After graduating from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s training academy four years ago, Tanner Romsdale was assigned to Wilson County and charged with enforcing hunting, fishing and boating regulations in the 550 square-mile area.
As he approaches his four-year anniversary, he says there have been no dull moments.
“It definitely keeps me busy,” says the personable Romsdale, a native of Lawrenceburg and graduate of UT-Martin. “I run into something new and different almost every day.”
One morning Romsdale received a frantic call from a Lebanon woman reporting a snake in her garage and pleading for help.
“From the way she sounded I was expecting some sort of big, dangerous snake,” Romsdale says, “but when I got there I found a harmless little 10-inch garter snake that had got stuck in a glue trap set for insects. I got it loose, carried it back into the woods and released it. I assured the lady she had nothing to worry about.”
Romsdale encountered a more serious incident when he caught two young men shooting a deer from a roadway.
“I found the shell casings, and when I lined them up with where the dead deer lay, the shots from the high-powered rifle were right toward a house about 150 yards away,” he says. “I told them they were fortunate they didn’t kill someone.”
The two were issued a citation, one of many Romsdale writes for such serious violations as road hunting. He also is called to investigate reports of trespassing and hunting without permission. (To contact Romsdale call the TWRA regional office, 615-781-6622 and the information will be relayed to him.)
In addition to patrolling the land, Romsdale is also assigned to Old Hickory Lake, the Wilson County section of the Cumberland River and other area waters. He says most water-related violations involve lack of mandatory safety equipment on boats, and improper boat registration.
“Sometimes the registration is expired and sometimes it’s in the wrong name,” he says. “For example, a lot of people don’t know what that when a boat changes hands the registration has to be changed too.”
Romsdale advises every boat owner to periodically review the current Tennessee Boating Guide, available for free at most outdoors outlets.
As for fishing violations, the majority involve not having a license.
“There’s a wide range of excuses,” Romsdale says. “They didn’t know they needed a license, they left it at home, they forgot to renew their old one … I explain that it’s their responsibly to know the regulations and abide by them.”
The same goes for creel limits and size limits.
“I don’t run into many creel limit violations,” Romsdale says, “but sometimes I’ll check someone who has some under-sized crappie, bass or hybrids. Sometimes they don’t know the regulations about size limits, and sometimes they know and still keep under-sized fish.”
When Romsdale was assigned to Wilson County he and wife Katelyn were newlyweds. Earlier this year son John arrived. With his being on call 7-24, finding time to spend with his family can be a challenge for Romsdale.
“My wife is understanding,” he says. “She knew this is what I wanted to do all my life, and she’s very supportive.”
Larry Woody is The Democrat’s outdoors writer. Email him at [email protected]