For Trousdale County game warden Brad Petty there’s no such thing as a “typical day.”
“Every day is different because you never know what you’re going to run into,” says Petty, 24, who has patrolled the county’s woods and waters since June 2018.
“A lot of what I do depends on the time of year,” says Petty, Trousdale’s lone warden whose area of operation includes a 20-mile stretch of the Cumberland River and parts of Old Hickory Lake, in addition to the county’s vast fields and forests.
“During deer season I get a lot of calls about trespassing and poaching; I have a spot-lighting case in court right now,” he says. “When turkey season opens I’ll get calls about the same issues with turkeys. In the spring and summer it’s mostly about people fishing without a license or expired boat registrations.”
In addition to his game warden duties, Petty assists local law enforcement personnel when needed on domestic violence situations, manhunts and missing persons searches.
Petty works in partnership with Macon County’s game warden.
“He helps me, and I help him,” Petty says.
Petty is on call 24 hours a day. When someone has a wildlife-related problem — a deer poacher, for example — they can phone the Trousdale County Sheriff’s Department and the call will be forwarded to Petty.
Petty set his sights on being a game warden as a kid growing up in the Hickman County community of Bon Aqua.
“I started hunting and fishing when I was about 10,” he says. “I met a game warden when I was 12, and I decided that’s what I wanted to do. I love the outdoors, and this is the perfect job.”
Petty graduated from UT-Martin with a degree in wildlife biology. He applied to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and was began a 12-week training program. Next came four months of field training, followed by twelve weeks at a law-enforcement academy.
Upon graduation he was issued a badge and assigned to Trousdale County, whose previous officer had transferred.
While attending UT-Martin, Petty met a pretty coed named Melissa. They dated throughout college and will be wed next month.
Does Melissa know what being the wife of a game warden entails: her husband responding to calls in the middle of the night, and often on duty on weekends and holidays?
“Yes,” Petty says with a laugh, “she’s been warned.”
He adds, more seriously:
“She understands that this is what I’ve always wanted to do, and she knows how much I love it. She totally supports me.”
For minor violations, Petty gives first offenders a second chance.
“If I catch someone hunting or fishing without a license, I write them a citation,” he says. “I tell them when they appear in court if they’ve got a license by then, the charge will be dismissed. Most of them comply.”
If they don’t, they’d better beware. Officer Petty takes his job seriously, and won’t be so forgiving the next time.