Veteran Deer Manager Retires After Three Decades

Bruce Trindle has much to recall about his career as a big game research manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

What started out as a one-on-one interview turned into something like that of deer camp — longtime friends, colleagues coming in and out to say hello and to shoot the breeze about old, dug up memories.

By JENNY NGUYEN, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

After 35 years of working at the commission’s Norfolk district office, the guys never let Trindle forget that he’s still just a kid from California.

Bruce Trindle shows off a white sturgeon he caught while on a fishing trip in Oregon two years ago. Trindle recently retired from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Bruce Trindle shows off a white sturgeon he caught while on a fishing trip in Oregon two years ago. Trindle recently retired from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

He was only 27 when he started his career with the commission in 1978. Now at 62, the newly retired big game biologist is able to look back on a long and memorable career.

In short, Trindle’s duties within the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission included coordinating the wildlife disease program and assisting in research projects on big game species such as elk, bighorn sheep, and deer.

“The thing that I’m most proud of is the deer program that I’ve been associated with,” Trindle said. “I’m also proud that we got turkey started in this part of the state, and the otters. While I’ve been here, we’ve done a pretty good with wildlife disease work, too.”

In addition to turkey and otters, Trindle also had a hand in introducing Nebraska’s first group of bighorn sheep by Fort Robinson in western Nebraska in 1981.

To provide an example of the impact big game research has made, Trindle took out an old record book. Flipping through the yellowed pages, he stopped at 1978, the year he started with the agency.

In 1978, 1,600 deer permits were authorized in the commission’s Elkhorn Unit with only 600 bucks taken that year. Fast forward to 2012. Trindle revealed that 7,200 permits were authorized, with 3,284 bucks and 4,633 does killed in the Elkhorn Unit alone.

For deer hunters, check stations are commonplace. In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree in wildlife management and a master’s degree in wildlife physiology from Colorado State, Trindle also earned a degree in information systems while he was at San Diego State in California.

With his knowledge in computer programming, Trindle was among the pioneers in digitizing the state’s deer check station system by writing and setting up the program to tally information.

“It was kind of fun because we still had people who worked for the agency who had no faith in computers. You would walk by their door and catch them with a pencil, adding up our figures to see if they were correct,” Trindle said with a laugh.

Some of Trindle’s most memorable moments at the commission were having to drag a giant beaver out of a power generating dam; encountering a “wild” bull during a grouse route; prying an eagle’s talons out of a man’s leg, and having lunch at Louis Pasteur’s house in Paris. Trindle had been asked to travel to Paris and Argentina to present his knowledge on wildlife diseases, such as brainworm and chronic wasting disease.

As much as fellow biologists like to joke about Trindle’s California, surfer-boy roots, each and every one has always spoken highly of Trindle’s work at the commission.

Looking back on all the memories he’s made, Trindle said, “I’ve had the pleasure of working with many nice people at this office. Out of the whole state, it’s probably the easiest place to work for as long as I did.”

In his retirement, he and his wife Kate plan to travel the world. Their first stop is a trip to Peru this May.