Published Sat, Jan 5, 2013 4:19 pm Dateline
R.T. Stewart loves to tell stories, and he has some good ones.
But the Meigs County man had to hold his tongue for nearly 20 years because of his job.
Stewart was an undercover agent with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
He's 59 years old and retired now and no longer has to keep secret the fact that he concealed his identity in order to arrest people who broke Ohio hunting and fishing laws.
In fact, Stewart has a new book that relates his many adventures. It's called "Poachers Were My Prey: 18 Years As An Undercover Wildlife Officer."
"As an investigator that worked cases that involved lengthy undercover projects," explained Stewart.
Stewart worked with the Covert Wildlife Law Enforcement Unit.
"In 1990, the division of wildlife had never had an undercover operation before. Maybe a small one here or there, but in 1990-91, they were looking for an individual to do some undercover work and thought maybe that might be a way to catch some serious violators," said Stewart.
"We worked out a deal that they thought I would fit the need and I took the job with enthusiasm."
The undercover unit became full-time in 1995 and Stewart says it now has several operatives.
He declined to disclose a specific number.
Stewart's assignment was to infiltrate poaching rings and put the lawbreakers behind bars.
Stewart describes his work as an undercover agent this way: you're always pretending to be someone you're not.
"I had had some little experience with, actually I dealt with Athens County, Ohio prosecuting office, so I had a little experience in dabbling with undercover and I always thought that I had a gift of gab. And I had the background of being from the country, which I was, and I knew a lot of procedures and what these outlaws liked and disliked and I could fit the picture. I could walk the walk and talk the talk and fit in with them," said Stewart.