Warden Honored for Commitment, Service

Canadian County game warden Joey Rushing is the newest recipient of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Game Warden of the Year and Shikar Safari Club International’s Officer of the Year awards.

Rushing, who was selected for the award by his peers and presented with the honors at the November meeting of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, was hired as a game warden in 2009.

“Joey Rushing is an outstanding example of the kind of young people who have decided to dedicate themselves to wildlife law enforcement in Oklahoma,” said Robert Fleenor, law enforcement chief for the Wildlife Department. “He is a very focused young man with many talents.

Rushing grew up fishing and hunting and took interest in the role that game wardens play through a relationship with former Wildlife Department Game Warden Capt. Jack Witt. Witt taught him the sport of noodling, and Rushing decided to pursue his interest in wildlife law enforcement through a wildlife and fisheries ecology degree from Oklahoma State University.

I’ve had a blast,” said Rushing about his tenure so far as a game warden for the Wildlife Department. “I’ve only been doing this about three years, and I love every minute of it.”

Since coming on board in 2009, Rushing has worked closely with other Wildlife Department employees and has been active in a number of Wildlife Department projects and programs. One of his favorites is the Department’s Aquatic Resource Education Program, which introduces youth and adults to the sport of fishing in Oklahoma.

Rushing has served in Caddo and Oklahoma counties and is currently stationed in Canadian County, where he has a strong working knowledge of the surrounding area, sportsmen and landowners in the region. He has encountered numerous interesting cases, including one in which he was bitten by a Caiman – an exotic species similar to an alligator. He also has been active in investigations of illegal online wildlife sales.

“Joey has been using his considerable computer skills to uncover and prosecute a large number of illegal commercialization of wildlife cases,” Fleenor said. “He is already known in only three short years of service as an excellent investigator with formidable interrogation abilities. Joey has also shown to be an excellent ambassador for the Wildlife Department, presenting numerous educational programs throughout the central region of Oklahoma.”

Rushing lives in Yukon with his wife, Heather, and his daughter, Tatum. Rushing dedicates his new honor to them for the sacrifices they have made for him to serve the sportsmen of the state as a game warden.

Shikar-Safari Club International was started more than 55 years ago and is limited to 200 members worldwide. While it is a social organization, its sole purpose is hunting and conservation and issues that affect hunters and conservation. The club has a foundation that puts almost $1 million into wildlife and conservation every year, including more than 30 scholarships a year for children of wildlife professionals majoring in wildlife fields. The scholarships are designed to perpetuate an interest in wildlife careers and conservation.