Thanks, Tales, and a cautionary thought from a (ex) MFWP Grunt

onpoint

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A life's journey that began (actually as a 7 year old with dreams) in 1985, ended 7/31/19. I called quits the career as an MFWP - past laboratory/wildlife - fisheries tech this past Wednesday. I was fortunate enough to have served (as best I could) the Montana hunting and fishing public, worked alongside some of the most dedicated fish and wildlife management professionals, in and on some the best habitat and public lands, and with some the the best resources in America.
I thank those hunters and anglers for that opportunity, I met thousands of both along the way - some on this forum. I particularly want to thank those who have made an effort to stay personally involved in the task of attempting to keep Montana's fish and wildlife management agency "honest". You people are the most important component of the North American Model.
The things I've done, the places I've been, and the critters I've handled were just a part of the good fortune I had the past 30 some years......
 

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onpoint

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I worked all across SW MT. A field tech for the Bighole Grayling Restoration Project, Wildlife Laboratory Tech, Madison/Gallatin Fisheries Tech, Gardiner Late Elk Hunt Grunt, Region 3 (SW MT) Wildlife Management Area Maintenance Crew Member, to name a few. All my positions were as a Technician. Few realize that beside biologists and wardens - there are technical assistance folks. We're the one's always out there in the field - even when the biologist types aren't out there - maybe attending meetings ad nauseum, crunching the data, or just thinking deep thoughts. ......For the record, I did work with some excellent biologists.... Us grunts are usually found out there sweating, freezing, getting chewed by horseflies, screamed at from fly fishing guides, taking care of Block Management, addressing bear issues, trapping wolves, all types of the maintenance activities, and/or checking hunters and anglers in the field. Just to name a few areas where Technicians DO, or at least contribute to, the job. If you see an electrofishing boat on the Madison River, chances are it's manned by three low paid tech-grunts, not a biologist in the boat.....
I surveyed almost a hundred alpine lakes, electrofished every single SW Montana river and many of the tribs for 28 years. Sunk a fully loaded shocking boat in the Gallatin. Helped a guy shot in the ass during the Gardiner late hunt. Wrote a few citations before I figured being a fish and game "ex officio" warden wasn't for me. Got in a hell of a lot of hot water for telling the higher ups I thought they were not doing their job(s). Permitted private fish ponds to multi-millionaires who paid tens of thousands of $$ (or more) for their little holes in the ground - but only $10 to MFWP for the permit. Tested positive for TB - the titer, I ain't sick - after handling more dead elk than most hunters ever see alive. Taught thousands of kids about aquatic critters and habitat. Jumped on the backs of adult cow and bull elk caught in drive nets and wrangled 'em to the ground. Got to work alongside and for some legends. Had a hell of a good as well as many mind numbingly frustrating time(s). Stared at a monitor entering literally millions of data points every winter for the last - well forever. Never again:D
Wouldn't change a thing.
 

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Hem

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Thanks Onpoint for your dedication.
About to head up to a lake near Dillon that claims to have Golden trout but hasn't been substantiated...maybe in a few hours.
 

onpoint

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Now that I'm again just another public land DIY sportsman, what I was pre FWP days and why I chose that path, I have just a word of caution. Take it or leave it.
Today, Montana sportsmen/women, MFWP, and everything else connected faces things never faced before.
Countless threads on here have addressed the woes in Montana. Many are spot on.
Montana's Fish And Wildlife Management Agency is at a crossroads. The bureaucracy has become heavy. The (to a large extent) rank and file morale is low. The hook and bullet crowd is increasingly becoming less representative in the work force. The non consumptive user influence is increasing as well as is the agency's focus on the same. And the public is to a large degree, checked out.
I hope the people on this forum who stay involved continue, and that more can be convinced that this is "dead ass serious". We stand to lose a lot - not sure it isn't already too late for some things taken for granted up til now....
In closing, there are still many good people at MFWP, but without the constituency showing up and directing the direction - all bets are off.
As one who lived it, I thank you all - and hope for you and your kids sake - you get/stay in the game. If you don't, we lose.
Tim
 

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onpoint

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Thank You Randy.
And I do appreciate all your efforts.
Hope to see at the same place again sometime - if I ever get up that way again that time of day..................
 

JLS

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Best of luck in your retirement Tim. Well earned, and your cautionary notes are spot on. Hit me up when you want to come over chukar hunting.
 

Oak

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Great thread, and thanks for your work. This thread is relevant to just about any wildlife agency in the west right now. I hope people heed your advice.
 

stillkickin

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Thanks Tim, a few of my close friends had similar experiences and insights here in MI. My hats off to all of you that kept us in fish and game!
 

bullbugle307

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Great thread, and thanks for your work. This thread is relevant to just about any wildlife agency in the west right now. I hope people heed your advice.
I do too. It seems for every tin foil hat anti GF person out there, there's at least half as many GF can absolutely do no wrong apologist types. I've worked with a lot of good people and a lot of bad people in the years I spent as a tech. I could tell stories that would make people cringe, but I don't, because I don't want to bring a storm down on the good people that largely outnumber the bad in the agency I worked for. I've also got a lot of insight into problems from retired career biologists who really know the problems that bureaucracy, special interests, and bad people in the agencies cause.

I generally have a ton of respect for people at the agencies, but it drives me nuts when people act like everything is just wonderful no matter what. Or that any kind of criticism is against everyone that works for an agency when it's not. And nothing bothers me more than the "this is the way we've always done things and nothing can ever change" attitude that is so pervasive with some in the public and at the agencies.
 

Hunting Wife

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Great posts. Congrats, and thanks for the years of service.

It’s a fine line to walk, keeping your head down just enough to keep yourself in the fight. Not sure many people coming into the field now really care enough to walk that line, let alone for 30+ years...
 

onpoint

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"Great posts. Congrats, and thanks for the years of service.
It’s a fine line to walk, keeping your head down just enough to keep yourself in the fight. Not sure many people coming into the field now really care enough to walk that line, let alone for 30+ years... "


Thanks.
My head was never down and I walked no fine lines. I worked for the resource and the public - not government bureaucrats.
This philosophy came with a price, however - in the form of lots of ignored data and communications presented to certain biologists, managers, and administration (including past directors), verbal and written nasty-grams from above, receipts for legal fees, and a bad boy reputation:cool:.
Wouldn't change a thing.
I did, however, win some significant battles. And - held my head high in the fact that I accomplished a few positive things regarding the resources and how they and the public were best served. It was no large feat. I was simply doing my job, something that caused heartburn for a few folks............
Downside? A few won battles but the bigger picture still suffers. That's where the people who paid my wages need to come in. But this is a broken record.................
For those of you on this forum who do the same type of work, as an outdoorsman who pays your wages, I hope you'll have left it all out there at the end. If that's not what you're doing now, grow a set and begin.
Or maybe think of a different line of work..............................

I look forward to some new freedoms when it comes to methods of addressing sportsmen's issues;).
After a little R&R..........
 

MTGomer

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Thanks for your hard work.
I think many decent people usually don’t last long in the public sector before leaving or conforming. Sounds like you fought the good fight until the end.
 

Nameless Range

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Wonderful thread. Thanks for all you've done. The web application that serves out the fish survey data for Montana's creeks, big and small, is an addiction of mine. Enjoy your next chapter.
 

Straight Arrow

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Thank-you for this thread describing pictorially and in writing an account of a professional career, dedicated to the Montana treasures so endearing to those of us on this forum. You have succinctly and graphically depicted a working life well spent, greatly admired, and sincerely appreciated. I hope to shake your hand and personally thank you. May your next accomplishment(s) be what brings you enjoyment and pleasure, as you reflect on the past life well led.
 

bowhuntmontana

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Thank you for your work. I worked as an FWP fisheries tech several years back while pursuing a ecology and wildlife management degree. Led survey crews into high mountain lakes in the AB Wilderness. Amazing job and I know what you mean by lower paid grunt. I made an education change a little later. Sitting at my desk with an MBA, I often wonder what life would have been like if I had continued down that path. I find myself staring at the mountains out my window all the time. Thanks again for your work.
 
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