Riding Along with North Woods Law
By Shelley Wigglesworth
I was lucky enough to be invited to ride along with Game Warden Sergeant Tim Spahr and the field producers for North Woods Law. Here is my first hand account of that day.
State of Maine Game Wardens do much more than check to see if people have a valid fishing or hunting license. Wildlife law enforcement officers in the state of Maine are, first and foremost, always looking out for the safety of all who enjoy the outdoors. They are key participants in search and rescue operations and provide aid when accidents happen in the woods. While doing their best to protect all of the state’s natural resources, they also educate and provide resources to the public by appearing at events, seminars and workshops. Game wardens have other responsibilities as well, including the apprehension of exotic animals not permitted in the state by law, and the seizing of illegal cross breeds, such as wolf-dogs being kept as pets. They rescue orphaned and injured wild animals and take them to rehabilitation centers or certified wildlife rehabilitators. They humanely put down animals who are mortally wounded and are suffering.
They investigate illegal trash and chemical dumping. They address trespassing issues, and occasionally bust people for possession of drugs or for drinking alcohol while driving off-road recreational vehicles. They work with state biologists to keep vital statistics on the health of bear, moose, deer, fox, coyotes and other wild animal populations. Animal Planet’s television show North Woods Law has cast wildlife police in a new and positive light, igniting a renewed interest in what game wardens do and leading to a better understanding of the dynamics of people and wildlife sharing the great outdoors.
After four successful years, the show is filming its final season in 2016. Last November, at the peak of hunting season, I was lucky enough to be invited to ride along with Game Warden Sergeant Tim Spahr and the Engel Entertainment field producers for North Woods Law. Here is my first hand account of that day.
On an unseasonably warm and sunny November morning, Sergeant Tim Spahr and his Team 1 Film Crew, consisting of field producer Jameson Posey, associate producer Jared Given and director of photography Ronnie Hernandez, arrived to pick me up for my ride along. After donning a bullet proof vest similar to the ones worn by the other crew members, I joined Given and Posey in a non-descript SUV chock-full of electronic equipment, recording devices and survival gear, along with a cooler of water and some granola and beef jerky. We set off trailing Spahr and Hernandez, who were ahead of us in the game warden’s truck.
Communication between the vehicles is immediate and constant via walkie talkies. After four seasons of filming together, Spahr and the crew had developed a solid and comfortable rapport. The film crew affectionately refers to Spahr as “Sarge.” The ongoing series of banter, jokes and comebacks, I was told, is crucial to staving off monotony and keeping each other on their toes. Days can swing from boring to action-packed in an instant, and it is important to be alert.