TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — Oklahoma women have never been afraid to get their hands dirty.
Throughout our state's history, they've worked hard and cared for their families despite the worst that life and nature could throw at them and that tradition of toughness continues to this day.
On this biting-cold morning, Game Warden Marni Loftis is on her way to deal with a poaching case on the back side of Grand Lake.
It's lonely work, but investigations in remote areas are a big part of her job.
"A landowner heard a gunshot and he stepped out on his porch with a flashlight and some gentlemen had just shot a deer and as soon as they saw him they took off," said Loftis.
Another neighbor who'd spotted the dead deer in the pasture is helping her examine the scene. The poachers came back and hid the animal, but after being scared-off a second time, they left it to rot.
It's her job to drag the carcass 100-yards to her truck.
It had been there a while, but if you think this isn't a job for a woman, you're wrong. She does whatever is needed.
What the coyotes left of the buck will be taken to Tulsa to get X-rays, and that will determine if there are bullet fragments for evidence.
She says she wouldn't be happy doing anything else, so she laughs off the tense and messy parts of the job.
The work is far from glamorous. It also has its share of dangers.
At this time of year, almost everyone she encounters will be armed with a rifle or a shotgun.
She also works where her backup can be two to three hours away, but she gets the job done.
Marni credits her faith and what her dad taught her.
"Courage is basically being able to step forward when you are afraid. You just keep takin' another step and puttin' another foot in front of the other," she said.
While she sometimes gets into tight situations, she also meets a lot of interesting people, such as when she checks the guys down at the fishing docks.
Marni says there are enough nice people and tall tales balance things out.
"I'm talking about like good ol' fishin' stories, like one time I caught a 15-pound black bass stories," she said.
In some ways, this is kind of like a family business. Her grandfather was a Lake Ranger, and she grew up hunting and fishing.
She's out there making sure Oklahoma will always have deer to hunt and long stringers of crappies for fish fries.
As far as her poaching case goes, Loftis has some suspects in mind. She says she works hard to show people that they can give her confidential information about the bad guys.