CLARK COUNTY —
While many boys aspire to grow up to be “just like dad,” few end up literally walking the same path as Bo Spainhour has with his father, Mac Spainhour.
Bo, 26, accepted a job with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources in 2009, less then two years before Mac, 52, retired as conservation officer after more than 27 years of service in 2011.
“As of right now, other than marrying my wife, it has been the greatest decision I’ve ever made in my life,” Bo said.
Mac said when his son first told him he wanted to become a conservation officer, commonly called a CO, he initially had a few reservations.
“When he came up to me and told me he wanted to be a CO, I was kind of like, “Are you kidding?,” Mac said. “Dads are dads, and we all kind of think a lot alike. You want what is best for your kids. I was thinking he could do something else, he could make a little more money, or he could impact something, I don’t know.”
It wasn’t long after Bo shared his newfound ambition with his father, however, that Mac would give him his full support.
“I told him, ‘I’m not going to stand in your way,’” Mac said. “But, if you are going to do it, you have to give it your all.”
And that is exactly what Bo did.
READY FOR THE CALL
The year Bo entered the DNR recruit program, he was one of five CO sons vying for a position.
“The process of becoming a CO is very difficult, and I told him early on not to get his hopes too high,” Mac said.
While Bo was going through the training, Mac said he told his son to “Keep your mouth shut. Do as many push ups as you can. And, try to stay under the radar.”
By the end of the recruitment program, through sheer will to succeed, Bo was the only recruit with a parent in the agency left, and as far as staying under the radar, that was a little difficult for the son of an officer who was well known to the academy staff.
Bo later graduated from the various training academies and was placed in Marion County to work as a conservation officer.
“When he made it, we were obviously very, very proud,” Mac said.
As Bo was getting settled in Marion County, Mac was working in Clark County, but would soon prepare to retire from state service. When Mac left the agency, 820 was his radio call number, which he said is determined by the district a CO is assigned.
Mac said toward the end of his career with DNR, he was cleaning out his truck and giving Bo some of his work materials that he no longer needed and didn’t have to return to the state.
“All the stuff had 820 on it, and I said [to Bo], “Well, you are going to have to scratch this out someday and probably have to put on another number,” Mac said.
But Bo never scratched out the call number on the DNR items, as he was soon transferred to work in Clark County, and the new number he was assigned was the same number that had been his father’s for nearly 30 years.