For many years prior to 2016, the Maine Warden Service conducted so-called “covert operations”.
Basically, the directors’ investigators were allowed to go undercover, use a different name and cover story, infiltrate a nest of diehard poachers, and possibly bring them to justice. These covert investigations were used sparingly and targeted real bad men, repeat offenders whose poaching and drug trafficking activities were really wreaking havoc on Maine’s big game populations or fish resources.
Warden Bill Livezey was one of those undercover game wardens. According to the dust cover of his new book, “Let’s Go For a Ride,” Livezey worked undercover for 20 years of his 30-year career in conservation law enforcement.
I first met Livezey before he went undercover. He was a district game warden whose “beat” included an area where my friends and I did a lot of ice fishing and snow sledding. On a cold February day, Livezey located and brought back to camp the wife of a member of my group after she got lost while snowmobiling alone in the Endless Lake area. An impressive, squared-off rookie manager at the time, Livezey kind of slipped off my radar.
Then 20 years later, in 2016, in a flurry of unwanted publicity, Livezey was suddenly on the radar, his identity and secret operation in Aroostook County on full display. A chapter in his book, titled “Good Guys Versus Bad Guys,” dives in depth into those difficult and dangerous times for Livezey and his wife, Gail. It is, in fact, the first time that this maligned conservation officer, who risked his life to protect Maine’s wildlife resources, has had the opportunity to defend his reputation with his side of the story.
“Let’s Go For a Ride”, published by Downeast Books, chronicles Bill Livezey’s incredible 20-year career in undercover work as Bill Freed. Take my word for it, this really is one of those books you just can’t put down. Most of the 17 chapters take you with this undercover game warden as he deftly finds his way into the good graces of the most incredible nests of career misfits and hardcore poachers from all corners of Maine.
Like me, you might be surprised to learn what happens in the fall when the sun sets in some pockets of rural Maine.
“You can’t even flinch. You have to be cool. Calm. Collected. Everything is fine. It’s a simple misunderstanding. But that’s a lie. They are on you. They know. The knife again cuts through the air. More screams. More belligerence. Stable now. Do not hesitate. Count to 10. Raise your hands. Palms out. Non-threatening. You don’t know what they are talking about. It’s crazy. You are one of them.
“Another lie. You’re too involved. Unarmed. Alone. Outnumbered six to one. Don’t lose your temper. Now it’s a game of poker. The bet is your life.
Bill Livezey is retired. He and his wife Gail work with wayward young people. The tapestry of the retired director’s life, from a troubled and broken life in his youth to a career as a daring and selfless lawyer, is an object lesson in redemption, the power of faith and the human capacity to s rise above bad beginnings and find direction and purpose.
“Let’s Go For a Ride” is a special story in more ways than one. It is available through Amazon Books.
V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal, author, guide to Maine, and host of a weekly radio show, “Maine Outdoors,” heard at 7 p.m. Sundays on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. Contact him at [email protected]
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