Game Warden Blotter

PLAYING POSSUM

A Bowie County game warden patrolling U.S. Army Corps of Engineers public hunting land noticed a truck parked on the side of the road and a man wearing hunter orange lying face down in the woods. Fearing the man might be injured, the warden stopped to render aid. The man didn’t respond when the warden called out, but once he got within 5 feet of him, the man sat up. The man stated he was hiding so people would not know where he was hunting. A quick check of the man’s criminal history revealed he was a felon and he was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

READING BETWEEN THE LINES

A Cochran County game warden responded to a trespassing complaint on opening weekend of mule deer season and discovered three New Mexico hunters who reportedly believed as long as the property didn’t have a “No Trespassing” sign it was legal to hunt there. They were also hunting deer with the five-day special non-resident license, valid only for small game, and none of them had completed a hunter education course. All three were charged with hunting without landowner’s consent. Cases pending.

DRIVE-BY QUAIL HUNTING

A Bailey County game warden received a complaint about alleged road hunters. During the search, the warden got a call that a vehicle matching the description had been stopped by a county sheriff’s deputy at a major highway intersection and was being detained. The warden interviewed the two subjects in the vehicle, who admitted to hunting quail from the roadway, which they claimed to believe was legal. Charges were filed for hunting from a public roadway and discharging a firearm from a public roadway, as well as possession of a small amount of marijuana. Cases and restitution pending.

TROPHY DEER SEIZED

Game wardens conducted an interview of a poaching suspect regarding a large white-tailed buck that had been seen regularly in northwestern Grayson County. The suspect lives less than a mile from where images of the huge deer had been captured on a game camera. Apparently, this individual was in possession of a set of antlers that closely resembled the famed buck, although he claimed to have killed the deer in southern Oklahoma. During the interview, the suspect initially denied any wrongdoing, insisting that he killed the deer on public hunting land in Marshall County, Oklahoma. Once the wardens executed a cell phone search warrant they had obtained before the interview, the suspect changed his story. He admitted to shooting the deer off a public road on property he did not have permission to hunt, did not have a hunting license and killed the big buck with a rifle in a county that allows use of archery equipment only. The deer, a 25 ½-inch wide, 19-point buck with a gross Boone & Crockett score in excess of 200, was seized. Numerous cases and civil restitution are pending. Investigations into additional offenses in Texas and Oklahoma are ongoing.

GAME CAMERA TRAIL

Texas game wardens were able to make a solid case against four individuals in Wilson County last season for hunting without landowner consent after the landowner provided photos of the subjects he captured on a game camera. With photos in hand, the game wardens checked a camp on an adjacent property and made contact with the same four subjects who appeared in the game camera images taken a couple of weeks earlier. After a short interview, the subjects admitted to hunting on the property and killing three hogs and a white-tailed buck. Several firearms were seized and all four individuals were arrested and transported to the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office. Cases are pending.

SHARPSHOOTING SKILLS SAVE BLUE HERON

A Llano County game warden had to resort to extreme measures in order to rescue an injured great blue heron stuck in a tree in the Kingsland area. Upon arrival, the warden quickly realized he faced a significant challenge as the heron was hanging from a limb by his right wing approximately 40 feet up in the air. Climbing up to the bird was ruled out after the warden determined the tree could not support his weight. Plan B was scratched after the Kingsland Fire Department explained they didn’t have a 40-foot ladder available. The warden then tried to dislodge the bird using several lengths of PVC pipe fashioned together, but that, too, was ineffective. That’s when he employed a last resort option. Using a .22 rifle and his sharpshooting skills, the warden shot the limb the heron was hanging from enough times that the limb broke, allowing the heron to fall through the tree where it was safely caught and transported to an awaiting wildlife rehabilitator.

IRRESTABLE REDHEADS

Responding to a call from a Williamson County landowner about excessive shooting taking place on a neighboring property the last day of duck season, wardens located three hunters and set up surveillance. The wardens observed one of the hunters carry two hands full of ducks to a parked vehicle and then drive to a house on the property. Upon gaining access to the property, wardens made contact with the individual and found he was over the daily bag limit on redheads by 13. He told wardens he knew he was wrong but they were flying and kept coming. The other two hunters showed up shortly thereafter and upon seeing the game wardens, one immediately confessed, “We are over the limit on redheads.” A total of 39 redheads were confiscated, 12 citations for daily bag limit and 39 cases of civil restitution were filed.

FACEBOOK HUNTERS FACE CITATIONS

Game wardens routinely check social media sites for game law violations and a series of suspicious photographs on Facebook recently caught their attention. The images were of several proud hunters posing with white-tailed bucks killed during the last two hunting seasons. A short investigation uncovered the identities of the individuals, and also revealed that many of them did not have a hunting license. Wardens questioned all individuals involved and concluded that many of the deer posted were taken illegally. In total, the racks off five white-tailed bucks and two rifles were seized, seven citations were issued and many warnings were given. Cases and restitution are pending.

DIGGING UP TROUBLE

Kerr County game wardens apprehended two individuals who were trespassing and digging up artifacts from a well-known Indian mound on private property. Wardens had been monitoring the mound for an extended period of time and with fresh activity at the site, it was just a matter of time before someone was caught. After several stakeouts, the wardens’ patience finally paid off when they observed a flashlight shining around the site and two individuals heard talking and laughing. The wardens closed in and watched as both individuals climbed into the hole and began sifting for arrowheads. Under the cover of darkness, both wardens were able to make their way up to the two individuals digging in the hole without being seen and caught them red-handed. Charges are pending.

CLUELESS QUAIL HUNTERS

Game wardens responded to a landowner call regarding hunters trespassing on his property in Hockley County. The two hunters had made an agreement with a hunting guide at a nearby town to take them on a quail hunt that day. Unfortunately, neither the guide nor the hunters knew who the landowner was and one hunter admitted to not even knowing the name of the guide. All three subjects were charged with hunting quail without landowner consent and placed into the Hockley County Jail. Cases and civil restitution are pending.

NET LOSER

A game warden received a complaint of individuals cast-netting game fish and trespassing on the Leon River. The warden responded to the area, made contact with the suspects, and identified the people involved. He issued citations to the suspects for no fishing license and confirmed one had a felony warrant out of Bell County. The warden placed that suspect under arrest and contacted the sheriff’s office to transport him to the Bell County jail.

INTERNATIONAL FISHING VIOLATION

The United States Coast Guard recently requested game warden assistance with Mexican fishing vessels caught in Texas waters in the Gulf of Mexico. The Coast Guard had pursued five boats operating in both U.S. federal and Texas waters. They caught one Mexican fishing vessel in federal waters and one in Texas waters. The first boat, which was caught in federal waters, contained one large cobia, numerous sharks, and a large amount of red snapper weighing more than 900 pounds combined. The second boat, which was caught in state waters, contained over 300 pounds of shark and 1,100 pounds of red snapper. The Coast Guard took custody of the first boat with the three undocumented aliens. Wardens took custody of the second boat, arrested the four undocumented aliens onboard and filed state charges. Unfortunately, over 2,300 pounds of fish were not able to be salvaged due to an increased health risk from the vessel. Wardens took the four subjects before a magistrate and received a guilty plea on all charges. The same four subjects admitted that the Coast Guard had caught and arrested them for the same charges just three months prior.

—TPWD

Updated 3/28/17

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