The Game Warden’s Son Tag

Mallards are hard to beat for grace and beauty. The drake’s dark-blue head shines iridescent green in the light, hence the nickname “greenhead.” Photo by Steven T. Callan

Greenheads and Muddy Sneakers

Mallards are hard to beat for grace and beauty. The drake’s dark-blue head shines iridescent green in the light, hence the nickname “greenhead.” Photo by Steven T. Callan

Mallards are hard to beat for grace and beauty. The drake’s dark-blue head shines iridescent green in the light, hence the nickname “greenhead.” All photos by author

“Dad, can I go with you?” I pleaded. “There’s no school tomorrow.” I enjoyed riding on patrol, weekends and sometimes after school—whenever I didn’t have baseball or basketball practice. Soon after moving to Northern California, I’d been given a copy of Francis Kortright’s classic, The Ducks, Geese and Swans of North America, and had become fascinated with waterfowl—so much so that at age fourteen I could identify just about every duck and goose in the Pacific Flyway.

—From The Game Warden’s Son

Author Steven T. Callan at the helm of the Fish and Game patrol boat Marlin, 1959.

A Trip to the Islands

Author Steven T. Callan at the helm of the Fish and Game patrol boat Marlin, 1959.

Taking my turn at the helm of the Fish and Game patrol boat Marlin, 1959. Photo by Wallace Callan

I first experienced California’s Channel Islands in 1959, as an excited eleven-year-old passenger aboard the Fish and Game patrol boat Marlin. My father, California Fish and Game Warden Wally Callan, was the Marlin’s rookie boarding officer, responsible for patrolling California’s offshore waters from the Mexican border to Point Conception.

An adult chuckwalla sunning itself at Joshua Tree National Park. Once exploited for the pet trade, native reptiles, like the chuckwalla, may no longer be sold in California.

Our Friends the Reptiles

An adult chuckwalla sunning itself at Joshua Tree National Park. Once exploited for the pet trade, native reptiles, like the chuckwalla, may no longer be sold in California.

An adult chuckwalla sunning itself at Joshua Tree National Park. Once exploited for the pet trade, native reptiles, like the chuckwalla, may no longer be sold in California. Photo by author

“I’m waiting,” taunted Darrell, his threatening mug now two inches from my face. My stomach churned and my heart pounded furiously as adrenaline coursed through my body. I had painted myself into a corner. The question crossed my mind: Was I willing to get beaten up trying to protect a lizard? While Darrell and Randy laughed at me, I remembered something my father had said. Never start a fight, but the best way to end one is to hit the other kid in the nose as hard as you can. . . .

—From The Game Warden’s Son

Elk in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, part of Redwood National and State Parks

Poaching in the Parks

Elk in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

A stately bull elk in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Photo by Kathy Callan

The recent killing of Hwange National Park’s beloved icon, Cecil the Lion, has brought to mind a number of outrageous poaching incidents that occurred right here in California—all of them inside national parks, state parks, or wildlife refuges.

Photo of spawning male Chinook salmon by Steven T. Callan

Splashing Salmon and Giant Sycamores

Spawning male Chinook salmon

Spawning male Chinook salmon. Photo by author.

I’m sometimes asked if I had any favorite places to work during my twenty-one years supervising the warden force in western Shasta County. Lower Battle Creek immediately comes to mind—especially the tree-lined section from the mouth, where Battle Creek flows into the Sacramento River, to the barrier weir at Coleman National Fish Hatchery.