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Columns January 16, 2018  RSS feed

Game Warden Field Notes

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

Can’t Fool Me Twice

Earlier this month a Navarro County landowner contacted game wardens regarding a second road hunting incident in as many weeks where someone shot a deer off his property from the road. Wardens had investigated the first incident, but were unsuccessful in locating enough evidence to identify a suspect. With backup from the Navarro County Sheriff’s Office, wardens were able to nab the individuals responsible after the second poaching incident. Once alerted by the landowner, officers immediately converged on the scene. Sheriff’s deputies made a traffic stop on a vehicle in the vicinity that did not match the description of the perpetrator, but did have a freshly killed deer in the bed. As it turns out, the subjects had switched vehicles after making the kill, and stashed their hunting gear before returning to pick up the deer. A full confession was obtained regarding both violations. Eight Class A misdemeanor charges, along with restitution, are pending. The rifles were located and seized.

Still Filling Last Year’s Tags

While inspecting a local meat processing plant, a Cherokee County game warden discovered a recently executed deer tag from last season’s license. After running the subject through the department’s database, it was determined the subject did not currently possess a valid hunting license, nor had he completed mandatory hunter education certification. A couple of days later, the warden met with the hunter at his residence and requested to see the subject’s hunting license. While looking over the expired hunting license, it was determined that he had also taken a buck a few days prior, which the warden asked to see. In addition to being tagged with an expired tag, the buck’s antlers did not meet the county antler restrictions. Citations were issued for taking deer with an expired hunting license, taking a buck deer that did not meet county antler restrictions, harvest log violations and no hunter education. The cases are pending.

Not a Duck Hunter Video Game

While patrolling Limestone County, a game warden heard several shots coming from a nearby tract of land. Upon further investigation, the warden located an individual who was using his .30-30 rifle to shoot at ducks as they flew past. The subject did not possess a hunting license. He was given a brief lesson on bullet trajectory and firearm safety, among other things. The cases are pending.

Caught Gaming the System

On Dec. 9, Trinity County game wardens found a van parked at the end of a county back road. The wardens noticed a hunter coming down a trail toward the van, and then disappear after spotting them. The wardens ran down the trail, but before they could reach the man, he emerged back onto the trail. The wardens made contact and asked the man why he ran into the woods out of sight. The hunter stated he was walking around a washout. While one warden checked the man’s guns and hunting license, the other warden started walking down the trail where the hunter had emerged. At that point, the hunter admitted to shooting a doe and hiding the meat in a backpack he ditched near the trail after seeing the wardens. The hunter produced an active military hunting license, although he was not currently nor had he ever served in the military. The hunter had also used a tag on another deer he had taken earlier in the season. Multiple cases were filed with civil restitution.

Cooper’s Hawk Down

A Facebook group notified game wardens about a protected Cooper’s hawk being killed. The concerned citizen sent in screen shots of a Facebook post where a suspect posed with a dead Cooper’s hawk and stated, “Killed my first hawk today. I found him in the pigeon coop eating this pigeon. I picked up the shovel and killed him! Normally we let them go but I’m tired of them killing my chickens and pigeons.” The actor then posed in several pictures holding the dead hawk. Wardens located the actor and the hawk. Citations and restitution are pending.

Additional Damages Incurred

On Dec. 9, a game warden got a call regarding a vehicle being towed down a county road with a mule deer buck in the bed of the pickup. Since the mule deer season in this region had been over for several weeks, the warden headed to the last known location seen by the reporting party. After arriving in the area, he located a truck behind a residence that appeared to have sustained significant front-end damage. While investigating the buck, the driver of the vehicle walked into the back yard, and was surprised to see a game warden standing at the back of his vehicle. After investigating further, it was determined the man had been involved in an accident with the deer earlier while driving on a nearby highway. The warden asked the man if he reported the accident and the driver informed him that he did not due to his license being suspended. The warden addressed the license issue, then cited the man for possession of an illegally taken resource.

Caught in the Act

On Dec. 8, a Williamson County game warden was patrolling U.S. Army Corps of Engineers public land near Lake Granger for illegal hunting. He noticed a truck driving by slowly and used his night vision goggles to follow the suspicious vehicle. The warden was about 100 yards away from the suspects’ truck when he heard what sounded like a gunshot. He slowly rolled up to the scene, parked his patrol truck 50 yards away and observed a man and a woman trying to remove a white-tailed buck deer from the fence. At that point the warden turned on his emergency lights and drove up to the scene. He identified himself and they put their hands up. Asked what they were doing, the man replied, “Shooting deer.” The couple confessed to shooting the deer, a 10 point buck. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office at Lake Granger was notified and they agreed to pursue charges for taking a wildlife resource without landowner consent. Both were charged and booked into the Williamson County Jail. Criminal and civil restitution charges are pending.

That’s Not a Party License

On Dec. 2, a Tom Green County game warden observed a group of individuals skinning a deer behind a residence. She contacted the hunters and asked who shot the deer. No one replied and the owner of the property came out and told her the hunter who shot the deer had left for work. The warden was invited inside to inspect the shooter’s hunting license log kept in the residence. A woman inside the home pulled out an envelope containing seven hunting licenses, cut a tag off of one, and told the warden it was the tag for the deer outside. When the warden inspected all the licenses and noticed eight tags had been removed from them without any of the required harvest logs being filled out, she pressed for answers. Finally, the property owner admitted to not only shooting the deer in question, but also all the other deer with tags missing from the various licenses. He stated he purchased the licenses for the other guys and used them to hunt. Citations for hunting under the license of another, improperly tagged deer and exceeding the annual bag limit were filed, along with civil restitution.

Good Cell Phone Coverage

On Thanksgiving night, Henderson County game wardens were on patrol when they heard a shot fired near their location around 10:30 p.m. Initially, no violators could be found, but they did locate a damaged cell phone in the road. A vehicle was soon observed stopping along the side of the road near the wardens’ location. The wardens made contact with the vehicle’s occupants, a man and a woman who initially denied shooting the buck from the road. When the wardens produced the cell phone and asked if it belonged to them, the couple eventually admitted to the crime. They had taken their gun home before returning to get the deer and the cell phone that was dropped by the female suspect, which ended up being run over and destroyed. The charges are pending.

Should’ve Passed the Buck

Game wardens responded to a call about a possible case on a subject exceeding his annual bag limit on buck white-tailed deer. For the season in Brazos County, hunters are allowed only one buck with an inside antler spread of 13 inches or greater. The wardens went to the subject’s residence and during the interview discovered he had harvested an 8-point buck earlier in the week, and a big 10-point buck that evening. Citation was issued for exceeding the bag limit on whitetailed deer and multiple tagging warnings were given. Civil restitution is pending.

Have We Met Before?

A Montgomery County game warden checked a man on Lake Conroe who was fishing without a fishing license. While issuing the citation, the warden discovered that the man also had two active TPWD arrest warrants. He was arrested and transported to the Montgomery County Jail.

Prison Property Poachers Pinched

It seems no property is off-limits to poachers, including prison grounds belonging to the Luther Unit of the Texas Department of Corrections. Game wardens acting on reports of night hunting by trespassers received earlier in the week initiated a stakeout and soon observed a vehicle shining a spotlight out of the passenger’s window. The wardens watched the vehicle for about 15 minutes and then initiated a stop. Five individuals were in the vehicle, along with two loaded rifles and two spotlights. The guns and the spotlights were seized and the driver and passenger were placed under arrest for hunting without landowner consent. The other three passengers were released without incident. The cases are pending.

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