Over 30 years ago, Lt. Terry Hodges, Department of Fish and Game, began interviewing California Fish and Game wardens who had stories to tell. He then wrote these remarkable warden adventure stories, along with his own stories from his own colorful career, and they were published for well over a quarter-century in the magazine, OUTDOOR CALIFORNIA.
Along the way, his stories were compiled and published in a series of four books, SABERTOOTH, TOUGH CUSTOMERS, SWORN TO PROTECT and PREDATORS. And now, the stories from these books are being republished in eBook form. To better serve eBook readers, the stories in each of the above books have been divided into two smaller books with new titles and cover images. These new eBooks now appear as a series called WARDEN FORCE.
The stories from Terry’s book, SABERTOOTH, which chronicle the career of the legendary old-time warden, Gene Mercer, known as “Ol’ Sabertooth,” do not yet appear on this website but will be along shortly.
Additionally, there are 32 Terry Hodges stories that have never been released in book form. These stories, in the near future, will be released as at least two more eBooks in the WARDEN FORCE series.
The following is the preface to the book, PREDATORS, written by Terry's first supervisor when he was a new warden:
There was a time when I supervised Terry Hodges, the author of this book. He was a new warden then, and he and I worked together in the Delta for four intense years.
I knew from the start that he would be a good one. Not only did he have the dedication, commitment and courage necessary to be good at his new profession, but he had a variety of skills and abilities that set him apart.
He was an accomplished small boat handler and an expert with canoes. He was a trick shot with a rifle and became first among the warden force to qualify as Grand Master in police combat pistol competition. He was a record-holding SCUBA diver and a private pilot, and at six-feet-one, over 200 pounds and hugely strong, he was a difficult package for the bad guys.
Yet what I most remember about Terry is his imagination and ingenuity, his inventiveness when facing challenging problems. To combat hard-to-find dove and waterfowl poachers in the Delta, Terry devised a way to use maps, magnetic compasses and plotting tools to triangulate on the sound of distant shooting, enabling us to quickly locate the culprits. It worked well.
He has a quick mind and is a master of the bluff, a tool he employed often. On one dark night in the mountains, using only his patrol vehicle and radios and aided by his wife, Cathy, he managed to bluff a veritable rat's nest of hoodlums into believing that they were surrounded by a score of wardens. He then arrested one deer poacher from their midst, seized one illegally killed doe and captured an armed and wanted felon. Not bad for a lone officer.
In short, Terry is a game warden, one of the best I have ever known. It came as no surprise to me when he began to write, for not only is he an excellent story-teller, but he has a wealth of stories to tell.
The compelling tales you are about to read are the real thing, true game warden adventures just as they happened, for Terry has walked the walk and talked the talk. Read his stories and he'll take you there, to California's wild places, in pursuit of real outlaws. Enjoy the ride.
~ Deputy Chief James Wictum
Retired California Department of Fish and Game