Game Warden Field Notes
The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Too Many to Count
Two Val Verde County game wardens were checking hunting camps when they discovered a hunting party had taken too many deer. To keep up with the growing list of violations, the game wardens resorted to drawing up a chart on paper. In total, the wardens filed three charges for untagged deer, four charges for hunting with another individual’s license, one charge for hunting without a license, one charge for incorrect deer processing, one charge for being over the limit on antlered deer and one charge for no proof of hunter’s education. The wardens also filed 18 warnings for harvest log violations. The wardens seized and donated five deer, and restitution is pending.
A Grayson County game warden got a call about a boat circling Lake Texoma with no operator. Witnesses reported seeing the boat come out of a cove at a high rate of speed earlier that day. A search of the area and a subsequent investigation revealed the operator, who was not wearing a kill switch or a life vest, had been thrown out of the boat. The TPWD Dive Team and other wardens continued searching for the victim until they found him days later. The dive team recovered the body from 40 feet of water, just north of the original target search area.
No Luck Pulling Stuck Trucks
A Van Zandt County game warden got a call from a landowner who said his ranch truck was stolen from his hunting camp. The warden was en route to the landowner’s location when the landowner called him back to say he had found his truck stuck on an easement by the Sabine River, close to another deer camp. When the warden arrived on scene, he found three individuals with two trucks stuck on the easement. After interviewing each person, the warden determined not only had the individuals stolen the landowner’s truck to pull out their own stuck truck, they had also shot a small whitetail buck the night before on the neighboring ranch, on which they did not have consent to hunt. The individuals confessed they shot the deer at night.
When two Bowie County game wardens got a call about a shoplifter, one warden recognized the name of the suspect from an aggravated assault case the day before. The suspect left the shoplifting scene on foot, leaving his friends and vehicle behind. When the wardens arrived on scene, they found the suspect walking down a nearby road. He appeared highly intoxicated and had marijuana in his possession. The wardens turned the suspect over to Bowie County.
Up in Flames
As two Bowie County game wardens were leaving the Bowie County jail, they got a call about a vehicle that had run off Interstate 30 and caught fire. Upon arriving on the scene, the wardens found the vehicle fully engulfed in flames, with the driver nowhere to be found. After the fire was contained, the officers discovered the remains of the driver inside the vehicle.
Even Off Duty Game Wardens Never Quit
While a Titus County game warden was vacationing with his family at a ranch in Morris County, a vehicle drove onto the ranch. The two men in the vehicle asked for permission to retrieve their hog dogs from the property, as well as the hog the dogs had cornered. The warden recognized the driver as a local poacher, but the driver didn’t recognize the warden without his uniform. The warden identified himself and asked to see their hunting licenses, which the hunters provided. The warden informed the men trespassing or hunting were not allowed on the ranch and requested they leave immediately. About 15 minutes later, as the warden and his family were leaving the ranch, he drove up on the hunters’ vehicle, which was blocking the ranch’s private roadway. No one was in the vehicle, but the two hunters came out of the nearby woods about 10 minutes later. Before instructing them to leave the property or face arrest, the warden informed both men he was going to file charges on them for criminal trespass, advising them he would contact them later. The hunters left the ranch, parking about a quarter mile away. The warden found three hog dogs, one of which was bleeding from a puncture wound possibly caused by a wild hog. The warden led the dogs off the ranch to the hunters. When the warden asked the driver if he had all his dogs, the driver turned his back to the warden without answering, got in his truck and drove off. After conducting a computer check, the warden found the driver had been convicted three times for driving with an invalid license. Charges for criminal trespass and driving while license invalid are pending.
Eighth Time’s the Charm
A Smith County man accepted a plea deal of 45 years in confinement as a result of a traffic stop conducted by a Smith County game warden in June 2015. During the stop, the man showed signs of impairment. The warden called a DPS Trooper to assist with the investigation, which revealed the man had a blood alcohol level over the legal limit. This conviction is the man’s eighth for driving while intoxicated.
Recently, a rice farmer pled guilty before a U.S. Magistrate Judge to illegally killing 65 brown-headed cowbirds and four red-tailed hawks. After finding large numbers of dead and dying birds on or near his property, two Brazoria County game wardens and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife special agent opened an investigation into the farmer’s activities, which led to charges against him. They discovered the farmer had spread a restricted use pesticide and rice mixture in his fields with the intent to kill birds. Upon entering a guilty plea, the judge ordered the man to pay a fine and serve two years’ probation.
Game, Set, Match
After receiving a call from a landowner about night hunting activity and witnessing it themselves, three game wardens set out to catch the hunters in the act one night. The wardens set up a decoy white-tailed deer in the area and watched as the hunters drove around in a UTV, spotlighting the landowner’s ranch and neighboring properties, on which none of the hunters had consent to hunt. After a couple hours, the wardens saw an excited commotion break out among the hunters as they spotted the decoy. One of the hunters hastily steadied himself atop the UTV and fired two shots at the decoy. The wardens quickly made themselves known to the hunters, who complied with their commands. The wardens detained six individuals while one hunter exclaimed they were only hunting hogs. The wardens then arrested two of the six individuals, including the hunter who shot the decoy. The cases are pending.
Y’all Should Know Better
A game warden got a call from a Floyd County landowner, who said a group of waterfowl hunters were hunting on his property without his consent. The warden responded and apprehended four subjects, all of whom were guides for a local waterfowl hunting outfitter. Charges were filed at the request of the landowner, and the cases are pending.