Interview with a Delaware Game Warden

Corporal Joshua Hudson, Game Warden with the Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police

Let’s start with some background information. For example, what is your name, age, job title, employer, work location and any other biographical details you’d like to share?

My Name is Joshua Hudson. I am currently a Corporal with Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police. I am assigned to Sussex County.

I will have been working full time with the department for 5 years in September 2017 and was a seasonal employee for 4 years prior to that.

I have recently helped in restarting the K-9 team for the department and have been a K-9 Officer for a little over a year.

What initially inspired you to pursue a career as a game warden?

I grew up in Sussex County Delaware hunting, fishing, boating and just always being outside. I started hunting at the age of 8 with my grandfather and fell in love with it.

I graduated from Indian River High School in Dagsboro Deleware in 2007, and then decided to go to college at Salisbury University in Maryland.

When going into college, I decided that I wanted to pursue a pathway that would allow me to work outside and not be confined to a desk. During my sophomore year of college, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do an internship with F&W NRP [Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police] and fell in love with the work that the officers did.

Oh wow – I could see an internship like that being a real turning point. What was the degree program you were in?

I majored in Environmental Health Science with a minor in Biology.

This was a very science-related degree, which could prove difficult at times, but it allowed me a variety of opportunities when I graduated in 2011.

When you got on with the F&W NRP, did your job expectations match the reality of the work you ended up doing?

After being hired and allowed to do my internship with the department in 2008, I was actually very surprised at how much I liked the job of being a seasonal Game Warden/Marine Police officer.

The job expectations were far better than what I had imagined and only peaked my interest more in possibly one day becoming a full time officer.

I’ve been hearing about the outreach and educational programs that your department provides to the community. Can you tell me a little about that?

I believe that outreach and public events are critical to the success of our department. Being able to show the public the impact that our department has on the fish, wildlife, and people of Delaware speaks for itself.

I also feel that Delaware has some of the best educational programs to get both young and old, male and female, individuals into the woods and out on the water, all while giving them the education they need to succeed and be safe in whatever endeavors they decide to undertake.

I understand you have a K-9 partner named Rosco. What is Rosco’s primary purpose?

Corporal Joshua Hudson's K-9, Rosco

Yes, K-9 Rosco has been with me since he was 9 weeks old. K-9 Rosco’s main uses are man tracking, wildlife detection, and evidence/article recovery.

Having a K-9 is something that I always wanted to do since working with the department’s first K-9 named Warden. I knew it would bring added responsibility and extra paperwork but having that extra set of eyes always looking over me, and having that extra tool – not just for the department and me – but for all Delaware Police agencies; it’s definitely a benefit.

That’s pretty amazing – getting to work outside and having a dog by your side seems like a cool way to earn your living… Your department is responsible for a wide-range of duties, are there certain duties that you specialize in handling?

Having a K-9 does require me to be able to respond at a moment’s notice to a variety of different calls/complaints and is one of the main duties that I specialize in.

The group of Officers in Sussex County and throughout the state are a great group of individuals and have a wealth of knowledge that we all use to help each other out when needed and make sure all complaints are answered and addressed as quickly and professionally as possible.

What’s the most astonishing experience you’ve had during your career?

During my field training, shortly after the academy while patrolling with now Chief Aydelotte, we were underway on a duck boat on a river located in the middle of the state.

The weather that day was extremely cold and the wind was blowing pretty hard. We had been checking duck hunters on and off all morning and were getting ready to turn around and call it a day.

Chief Aydelotte knew of a few more blinds just up river, which we were going to check before heading back. Just before getting to the blinds, we came around the corner and found two hunters clinging to a capsized boat. There was no one else around for miles. We were able to rescue both individuals and get them safely to an ambulance for evaluation.

Sounds like those guys owe you their lives… Of course, one of your department’s major functions in enforcing state laws. How often does this function put you in harm’s way?

Being in harm’s way is something that we face daily but is also part of the job. Every person we come in contact with usually has some type of weapon whether it be a fisherman with a filet knife or a deer hunter with his weapon of choice.

Most people we deal with would never think about harming us but as someone who enforces the law of the state we have to always watch fellow officers’ backs – and our own.

What are the biggest challenges facing game wardens in Delaware?

In recent years, Delaware has become a highly desired place for individuals to move to and start calling home, and with this comes some new challenges for us.

People who are new to the area don’t understand why there are individuals on the marsh in the middle of winter shooting ducks or why they can’t walk their dogs in an area that is closed for deer season. Addressing these issues can sometime be challenging because often times the complaints are originated from people who know very little about the long-standing traditions of our area.

As I related to earlier, I believe one of the biggest ways to confront these challenges is to get out in the community and do both public presentations and outreach events. I will often times try to attend home owner’s association meetings and answer any and all questions.

Is there a lot of camaraderie among the team members there at F&W NRP?

In Sussex County I work with a great group of guys, most of which I talk to daily. We are always there for each other both while working and off.

Each officer may excel in a specific area more than another but together we always work as a team and complete whatever the task may be to the highest of our ability.

Being able to bounce ideas and questions off each other helps each of us excel.

In what ways does being a game warden influence other aspects of your life?

As with any law enforcement career, you never completely turn it off, you are always watching your back, looking for violations both while working and off. I believe it shows you how much to treasure and love your family as well. In this line of work, you see the best and often times the worst of people. It teaches you to always give your family the best you can and treasure the things you do have.

We’re all lucky to have people out there like you and your fellow officers, that’s for sure … Do you consider game wardens to be community leaders? If so, how can they most effectively guide the public?

Yes, as with all public servants I believe game wardens are no different in their part as a community leader. I believe as with any law enforcement profession, the best way to guide the public is to be a good example to them both on and off duty. Show them how to be respectful to others, talk to them with sense and compassion and try to find a solution for them when they have called upon you for your services.

Do you have any words of wisdom to give those thinking of becoming future game wardens?

The biggest thing I would say to anyone aspiring to be a game warden is to keep their nose clean and stay out of trouble. I would tell them to read the hunting and fishing guides as much as possible and become as familiar as they can with them.

I would tell them to get involved in the community as much as possible and to take some type of college education related to either law enforcement or science. Also if available, I would have them look at any type of seasonal program that may be available through their state’s Game Warden Department and get involved with that so they can get the real life hands-on experience.