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Columns December 26, 2017  RSS feed

Game Warden Field Notes

The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.

Crossing the Line

On opening weekend of mule deer season, game wardens were patrolling an isolated stretch of backroad near the Texas/ New Mexico border in Cochran County when they observed suspicious activity in the distance; a red pickup truck had suddenly turned around on the two-lane highway to go southbound, and then came to a stop in the bar ditch. The wardens quickly turned into the nearest county road to observe. Using binoculars, the wardens detected a rifle sticking out the window of the truck. They quickly moved in and made contact with the occupants in the red truck, which was still in the ditch. The occupants, from New Mexico, admitted to shooting at feral hogs, but claimed that because they were in New Mexico, the Texas wardens were out of their jurisdiction. Asked how they had determined their location, the individuals pointed to the yellow centerline in the highway, believing that was the state line separating Texas from New Mexico. Charges for hunting on a public roadway, in Texas, and discharging a firearm on a Texas public roadway are pending.


Harris County game wardens monitoring a development property for illegal hunting activity encountered two individuals emerging from the woods riding a UTV. It was readily apparent to the wardens that the suspects had been hunting, as both carried rifles and blood was visible on their clothes and the utility vehicle. During initial questioning, wardens determined neither suspect had written consent to hunt on the property, and both claimed the blood stains were from a feral hog they had shot earlier. As is common during law enforcement interrogations, the duo was questioned separately to establish consistency in their story. While pressing one of the subjects to clarify the time of day the hog was killed, the individual opened his cell phone to display a text message string with the other suspect. While thumbing through texts looking for the time of day his buddy had notified him about the kill, he unfortunately scrolled upon a photo of a large 8-point buck his friend had sent at the time he claimed the “hog” had been killed. At that point, both confessed to poaching the deer, and taking it home for processing without tagging or logging it on the shooter’s license. The deer head and meat were seized at a nearby home. Multiple citations were issued and civil restitution is pending.

Just Doin’ My Job

A Webb County game warden was investigating a deer carcass that had been dumped on the side of an easement road. During his investigation, he came in contact with a landowner who said he had allowed some unidentified friends to come out onto his property some months prior. The landowner suspected these individuals could have returned to his ranch without his permission and might be responsible for the dumping of the deer carcass, as they had a history of poaching. The landowner refused to provide contact information on these so-called friends of his, and instead told the warden to “go do his job and figure it out.” Because of the landowner’s suspicious behavior and refusal to cooperate in the investigation, the warden now considered him to be a person of interest. While looking deeper into the landowner’s hunting activities, the warden discovered that the landowner had illegally harvested a 10-point buck in 2016, as had his mother, as neither possessed a valid hunting license. The warden subsequently seized both deer and issued both the landowner and his mother separate citations for hunting white-tailed deer without a license. Civil restitution on the deer is pending. As the landowner was being issued the citation he exclaimed, “When I told you to do your job, I didn’t mean for you to investigate us.” The warden then took the time to educate and explain to the landowner that no one is exempt from any game law. The dumped deer carcass is still under investigation.

CSI Don’t Lie

A Red River County game warden received DNA results stemming from a road hunting case during the 2016 deer season. The warden was on a stakeout of a popular road hunting location when he heard a shot fired less than 100 yards from his position. The warden made contact with two subjects, who informed him they had shot a coyote. The warden discovered blood, but no animal was retrieved. He collected blood and tissue samples from the scene and submitted them to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s forensic lab for testing. The test results came back positive for white-tailed deer. The cases are pending for hunting deer at night, hunting from a vehicle, and hunting deer with artificial light.

All in a Day’s Work

During the second weekend of deer season and the opening weekend for duck season, Trinity County game wardens had their hands full. Among nearly two dozen citations issued included game law violations on four illegal bucks, untagged/ improper l y tagged deer, and illegal possession of lead shot, no migratory game bird stamp, no hunter education, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Trinity County wardens also located a heavily baited area, an abandoned ATV, and a substantial number of violations in the Davy Crockett National Forest.

Impulse Purchase

Whether from a guilty conscience or simply feeling he may have pushed his luck, an East Texas man recently tried to avoid getting busted for hunting deer without a license by purchasing a permit after the fact. When game wardens got wind of a big buck with an impressive 19-inch antler spread possibly being harvested illegally near Gilmer, they started looking into it. It didn’t take long to find the hunter responsible, and wardens learned he harvested the trophy at 7:40 a.m. on Nov. 12. Problem was, according to dispatch, the guy didn’t purchase his license until three hours later. When wardens confronted the man later that evening, he confessed to hunting without a license. He was also found in possession of another deer he admitted to taking the previous week. Numerous charges and civil restitution are pending.

A Crappie Thing to Do

Game wardens were patrolling for duck hunters on Lake O’ the Pines opening weekend when they noticed a large group of bank fishermen nearby. When the wardens pulled up, they witnessed one of the subjects kick a fish back into the water. Further investigation resulted in several undersized crappie in their possession as well as crappie hidden in the woods behind the fishermen. Several charges are pending including no fishing license, possession of undersized crappie and failure to allow inspection.

Running a Head

During the Thanksgiving holiday, wardens in Jasper County responded to a call about trespassing where the landowner was able to capture an image of the suspect with his cell phone. The wardens recognized the individual as a Jasper resident and went to the violator’s house to confront him about the trespass claim. When they pulled into the driveway, the wardens noticed several men at the corner of the property. When the men noticed the wardens, two guys took off into the woods with the head of a buck. A brief pursuit ensued and both individuals were placed into custody. It was confirmed they had just taken the white-tailed buck, which also did not meet the 13-inch minimum antler width restrictions, without landowner permission. The cases are pending.

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