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Dick Lang tells stories from 'Behind the Badge'

BY: Rikki Cason | December 16, 2012

When a person spends their entire career in a job they love, interesting and unique stories are bound to come up throughout the years. Stories are just too good not to share with others.

For Town of Royalton resident Dick Lang, the stories he had from his 34 years as game warden in Niagara County were just that, too good not to share.

After his retirement in 2003 he began to write down his stories and throw them in a drawer.

While meeting with other department of environmental conservation officers in the area, they would all tell unusual stories that happened to them during their careers.

“The stories are so unbelievable,” said Lang.

This prompted Lang to put his stores in print and write “Behind the Badge: My Life as a Game Warden.”

The book features a variety of stories and Lang’s opinion on wildlife and wildlife laws. Stories include when he found a human skeleton in the trunk of a car and when they had to put a mountain lion in their vehicle and it sat on their laps during the drive.

There is also the story from Lang’s first year on the job in 1969, when he watched as a fellow game warden gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a deer that was chased into the canal. The deer lived.

Lang also tells the story of how he was the first warden in New York state to have a hunting while intoxicated case.

While he was a game warden, his wife Gretchen also was an important part of the job. She and their children would often nurse to health and raise young wildlife that Lang found while on the job and had to bring home for help. At the time, their home acted as a call center for complaints and Gretchen would answer the phone and monitor complaints.

Lang was born in Buffalo and grew up in Orchard Park. When he took the exam to become a game warden in 1969, Niagara County was where there was an opening.

Lang was a wrestling coach at Royalton-Heartland High School and at Newfane High School for many years. He was also Supervisor for the Town of Royalton for two terms.

Gretchen said the book is very “guy friendly,” it also has pictures and a larger font. She said it is the type of book people can pick up, read a chapter and put down … if they are able to.

“Many say, once they start reading it they can’t wait to see what the next chapter is about,” said Gretchen.

“Behind the Badge: My Life as a Game Warden” also features 21 sketches from Vic Thibault, a Newfane art teacher and Olcott Beach resident. Carol Miller, a retired microbiologist from Lockport, edited the book. Her husband Mike Miller also helped with the layout and design.

It is available at the Niagara County History Center, Crafts and Creations, the Book Shoppe in Medina, Johnson’s County Store, Scapelliti’s and on Amazon and for Kindle.

The book can also be purchased through Lang by calling 433-7748.

Lang will also have a book signing at the Book Shoppe from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22. A book signing will also take place from 2 to 3 p.m. Jan. 10 at the History Center.

Since retirement Lang has compiled 124 stories from his days as a game warden, enough for a second book, which he plans of writing soon.

“I think it’s a very interesting book,” said Lang. “This was a fantastic job to have. It was the best job in New York state, as far as I am concerned.”

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