After watching hunters, now he'll have a chance

April 14, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

by Richard T. Meagher / staff photographer

see the enlargement

Mark CrowderAfter watching hunters, now he'll have a chance

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - For 21 years Mark Crowder has watched enviously as other people did what he longed to do - roam the woods and mountains of Fulton County, Pa., hunting the deer and black bear that populate the region.

Not only did he not have time to hunt, Crowder had to keep an eye on thousands of hunters as a Pennsylvania Game Commission warden.

That all changed for Crowder, 47, on April 3 when he retired as a state wildlife conservation officer. He's not sure how he will spend the rest of his life, he said, except for one thing. "I'm taking a whole year of to do nothing but go deer and bear hunting," he said.


He'll have an edge because he knows where the game hides.

"I'm going to miss this work. It's a great job," he said. "The only problem is there's too much of it. I like steak too, but I can't eat it every day. When you work for the game commission you'd better not want to do anything but work and sleep."

It's worst during hunting season, when Fulton County's population of 12,500 doubles because of the masses of hunters coming in, he said.

"You get up at 6, do daylight patrol in the state forest and the game lands, come home for supper then go on night patrol until 2 a.m. looking for jack lighters," he said.

During an interview Crowder sat on the front porch of the cabin that served as his office before he retired. Smoke from his corncob pipe circled his head as he talked about his future. The cabin sits on a ridge overlooking Meadow Grounds Lake, which is surrounded by 9,000 acres of state game land - where Crowder will hunt deer, bear and squirrels.

"For the first time in my life I can make decisions to do what I want to do," he said. That will include messing around on his classic 1962 Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Crowder's territory as a warden was Fulton County's 430 square miles. Help came from nine deputy wardens that he hired and trained. "At one time I had 16 deputies," he said.

His duties besides law enforcement included administrative work and giving hunter education classes, he said.

It's also a game warden's duty to pick up road-killed deer.

"Last year we had more than 700, not including Interstate 70 or the (Pennsylvania) turnpike. We picked up 160 in September alone. The first year I started this job I picked up 125 all year."

He puts the deer carcasses in a pit or spreads them in the woods for bears to scavenge, he said.

Crowder is a certified firearms and karate trainer - skills he uses to train other wardens, deputies and police officers.

Crowder, a Johnstown, Pa., native, spent four years in the Marine Corps before he took the state's civil service test. He had not been to Fulton County until he was assigned here in 1978. "I'd say 90 percent of the people here are first class. The other 10 percent I arrested."

The Herald-Mail Articles