ATOKA COUNTY, Oklahoma - The longest-tenured game warden in the State of Oklahoma handed in his gun and badge on Wednesday as he retired after 45 years of service. 

Warden Arthur Joe Young began his service as a game warden in the early 1970s in Cleveland County before transferring closer to home in northern Pushmataha County. Young, also known as "Might Joe," earned a reputation for catching poachers all over southeast Oklahoma in the Kiamichi and Ouachita Mountains, according to the Oklahoma Game Warden Facebook page. 

Young later transferred to Atoka County where he was later named a new warden supervisor. Young then served as lieutenant and supervised seven game wardens in the southeast district. 

"Joe has been a mentor, father-figure, and friend to “his men”. We are sad to see him go, but we hope he enjoys his well-deserved retirement," the wardens wrote on Facebook.

Young's wife also wrote on her own Facebook page that Wednesday was a bittersweet day for their family.

Carolyn Young wrote that now, a new chapter of their lives begins. 

"You see I am retiring today from the Department of Wildlife too. For 45 years I have been an unpaid department employee. Today my job as Joe's messenger, secretary, and all around sounding board has come to an end," she wrote.