Game Wardens: Memorial dedicated to the fallen

 

They are known by various names such as Conservation Officers, Game Wardens, Wildlife Enforcement Agent, and Fish Wardens just to name a few. Game Wardens are called upon to protect our wildlife by enforcing game laws. A job that can be dangerous. Oklahoma has lost two game wardens in their service to the sportsmen and the state.

 

Charles W. Estes - was killed in the line of duty in the Tulsa County Oklahoma area. On February 28, 1911, Estes told his wife he’d be back soon and rode off on his horse in search of poachers violating a law prohibiting hunting on Sunday.

memorial for the first Oklahoma game warden to lose his life in the line of dutyThe first Oklahoma game warden to lose his life in the line of duty was honored with a memorial dedicated June 3 at River Park in Tulsa.
 

In 1911, the Wildlife Department was very new and only a few wardens existed. One of those men, Charles W. Estes, was killed in the line of duty in the Tulsa County area. On February 28, 1911, Charlie Estes told his wife he’d be back soon and rode off on his horse in search of poachers violating a law prohibiting hunting on Sunday.

At the top of Turkey Mountain, Estes was shot to death by an unknown killer. His gun, holster and bullets were stolen. His sacrifice for the future good of Oklahoma’s wildlife and sportsmen was individually recognized June 3, 2001, with a memorial service dedicating a monument to his sacrifice at River Parks.

"It was a duck hunter he was investigating, but it wasn’t a duck hunter that shot him," said Carlos Gomez, Tulsa County Game Warden. "He was killed by someone with a high powered rifle. They suspected moonshiners and counterfeiters operating in the Turkey Mountain area."

The memorial, located at 5800 S. Riverside Drive, was made possible with the hard work of Estes’ great, great nephew, Bobby Tipton, Game Warden Gomez, River Park employees and benefactors. The dedication was attended by Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Commissioners John S. Zink, Vryl Keeter, and John Groendyke, retired and present Department employees, law enforcement officers from several state agencies, friends and family of the Estes family and Senator James Williamson.

Gomez said that enough donations were made on Estes’ behalf to place a concrete walkway leading from the jogging trail to the memorial site with boulders on either side to serve as bench seating. A large boulder that stands erect will display a bronze plaque in Estes’ honor with a light shinning down on the memorial from a cottonwood tree.
 


Melvin Lewis Garrison Jr. - drowned in the Deep Fork River arm of Lake Eufaula while on patrol. December 27, 1971
 

On Friday, June 24, 2005, the Oklahoma Game Warden Association and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation paid tribute to fallen Warden Melvin “Bucky” Garrison. Through the collective efforts of the OSGWA and ODWC as well as a donation from the Fort Gibson Lake Association and many others a monument was created in Garrisons’s honor. The memorial is located at the Fort Gibson Lake Association office at the intersection of US 69 and SH 51 in Wagoner, OK. The memorial reads:

 “We enjoy the bountiful wildlife and rich natural resources in Oklahoma because of the many officers who have dedicated their lives to wildlife law enforcement. Ranger Buck Garrison gave his life, the ultimate sacrifice, while attempting to arrest a ring of illegal commercial fish poachers in the Hoffman Bottom area of Lake Eufaula. May we never forget our loss and the words written on his tombstone: “Buck loved God, He loved his creation. Thus, he chose a Game Ranger’s life as his vocation.””

 

Johnny Ray Maisano, Sr. – died of complications from Lyme disease. August 26, 1990

Johnny was recognized for his work outdoors by having his named engraved into the National Police Officers Memorial in Washington D.C. A Krebs native Maisano began his career with the Wildlife Department in 1976 assigned to Cherokee County where he worked for three years before being transferred to Latimer County in 1978.

Maisano was also named the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Officer of the Year in 1986.

He was hospitalized several times over the next couple years from the effects of the disease. In spite of his continual sufferings from the disease he remained an active Game Warden until his death the morning of August 26, 1990.

Johnny's last activity was related to a part of his job and service as a Game Warden which he enjoyed the most. On August 25, 1990 Johnny took part in a fish fry at Robber's Cave State Park with the local Sportsman's Club from Wilburton. He loved being part of the community and this was one part of his job he enjoyed the most, being able to interact with sportsmen.