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Dec. 12, 2008

Game warden Field Notes

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

Rodeo in Sonora: On Nov. 30, a Sutton County Game warden received a call about two buck deer attached at the antlers by a large entanglement of wire. One of the deer was alive and the other was dead after being gored by a third buck deer. The location of the call was in the town of Sonora and several spectators were at the scene when the game warden arrived. A plan was developed and the necessary equipment, two ropes and wire cutters, were obtained. With help from a Sonora police department officer, who managed to rope the head of the deer while the game warden roped the back feet, the deer was stretched out in true rodeo head and healer fashion and the wire was cut from the bucks’ heads. The surviving buck was last seen jumping a fence and leaving town at a high rate of speed.

Worth a thousand words: Also on Nov. 30, an Operation Game Thief call came into Houston Communications at 2:00 a.m. about shots being fired in Liberty County. A game warden went to investigate the call. The game warden slow-rolled down a dirt road near the area where the shots were reported, and saw two people entering a house. She pulled into the drive and saw a 10-point buck on the ground. Upon being questioned, one of the subjects stated that he had shot the deer at 5:30 that evening and that it had run away and he had been looking for it ever since. He said he found the deer a little while ago, and it was still alive and he shot it again. The game warden took the subject with her to follow the tire tracks from the riding lawnmower that was used to move the deer to where the deer was killed. While looking at the spot where the deer was killed, the game warden saw a game camera on the tree and took the memory chip out of it. She noticed a light pole above the corn feeder with a drop light at the top. She and the subject then followed the extension cord from the light, across the yard to where it went into a bedroom window. The warden put the subject’s camera chip into her camera and looked at the photos. One showed the deer standing there eating; in the next it was on the ground, and in the next the subject was standing over the deer with a gun. Each picture had the date and time stamped on it. Charges pending.

The desert has ears: In a remote store, in a remote part of southern Brewster County, a hunter bragged to a comrade about his deeds. This led to an Operation Game Thief call to by a concerned citizen. This led to a day’s worth of investigation that involved two game wardens. A total of five poachers were filed on for numerous violations including hunting mule deer without landowner consent (state jail felonies) and other Class A, B, and C misdemeanors. One hunter went to jail. Cases pending.

A bagful of poachers: On Nov. 29, a game warden responded to a trespassing complaint in northern Titus County. A gentleman was sitting in his deer stand waiting for a large deer he had seen when he heard a gunshot from another section of his property. The gentleman investigated and found a 19-year-old male trespassing and standing over the big deer he had been hunting. The 19-year-old had snuck into the ranch from an adjacent property and had already been warned about trespassing. While the gentleman was dealing with the poacher, three more trespassers drove up on an ATV to see what their poacher friend had shot. Just as the game warden arrived, he caught two more hunters coming off the edge of the property. One large 8-point buck was seized, three subjects were cited, and numerous trespassing citations were issued.

Live-baiting road hunters: Two Nueces County game wardens and a San Patricio County game warden ran a decoy operation that paid off, but not in the way they had planned. As the wardens were setting up, a vehicle approached that caused the wardens to take cover, leaving the gate open. The occupants of the vehicle noticed the gate open and were nice enough to stop and close the gate. The wardens set up their decoy, and the hours went by with no takers. As the wardens were taking down the set, the same vehicle came by, stopped at the gate and an occupant made the comment: Oh good, the gate is locked now, they must be gone. The vehicle moved a short distance down the road and shot a live doe in front of the wardens. Cases filed.

Shrimp on the rocks: Game wardens and a TPWD boat mate assisted the U.S. Coast Guard with a shrimp boat accident. During the early morning hours while the Gulf of Mexico was extremely rough, a gulf shrimp boat struck the jetties at South Padre Island. The shrimp boat was stuck on top of the rocks and leaking large amounts of diesel fuel. The Capt. Williams was used to assist with the recovery and the chemical spill. Approximately 18,000 gallons of diesel fuel was lost. The captain was transported to the hospital with minor injuries.

No, you can’t buy (or sell) it: On Nov. 25, a Garland law enforcement clerk received a call from someone inquiring about the legality of selling deer meat. The caller forwarded the clerk an Internet posting by a man attempting to sell a deer he had at a processor in Garland. The clerk quickly forwarded the e-mail to the district supervisor, who contacted a Dallas County game warden to investigate. The game warden arrived at the processor before the exchange took place and parked in the back of the building. The game warden then identified and filed on the seller for illegal sale of white-tailed deer meat. He then had the seller wait inside until the buyers arrived and observed the purchase of the meat. The game warden then filed on the buyer for illegal purchase of white-tailed deer meat. The deer meat was seized.

Probably not part of the curriculum: A Uvalde County game warden received a call from an off-duty San Antonio police officer who found a deer carcass with the head removed on a neighboring ranch where he was hunting. During the course of his investigation, the game warden interviewed a subject who was living and working on the ranch where the deer carcass was found. The subject admitted to killing the 8-point buck deer and getting rid of the carcass after removing the head because he did not need any more deer meat. The subject is a student at the local junior college majoring in Wildlife Science. Class A Waste of Game, harvest log and tagging violations were filed. The game warden also managed to file on a subject for driving in a protected freshwater area (driving in the river) on the Frio River.

Oops: On Nov. 17, a Wheeler County game warden filed on a Fairfield man for over bag limit on whitetail bucks. The case resulted from the game warden finding deer remains dumped on the side of a country road, in a box. The box just happened to have a sales tag with names attached to it.

License cheater nabbed: A Hays County game warden was sitting outside of a ranch watching a vehicle and waiting for the owner to return. Thirty minutes after sunset, a camera flash went off about 50 yards from the truck and then two men got in the truck and took off at a high rate of speed inside the ranch. When the hunters were located, the game warden found one of the hunters in possession of a free military super combo license. The only problem was he had been out of the military for three years. He had used an expired ID to get a free license two years in a row. An 8-point buck was seized and cases are pending.

Wrong state, wrong country, wrong ranch: A Presidio County game warden received a call that two illegal aliens with .30-30 rifles had been taken into custody by the U.S. Border Patrol in Big Bend Ranch State Park. After questioning the two suspects, he learned that this was their third hunting trip this year and that they had come on three hunting trips last year killing a total of three aoudads and two mule deer. Federal and state charges are pending.

Stores have ears, too: Nov. 12, while shopping in Lufkin off duty, a Nacogdoches County game warden overheard a store employee tell another that he killed an old buck on his farm with a .22-cal. mag. Shortly after the conversation was completed, the game warden approached the subject, identified himself, and notified an Angelina County game warden. After further investigation, the violator was filed on for taking white-tailed deer by illegal means.

Ice chest key to anglers’ rescue: On Nov. 15, Matagorda County Game wardens rescued two fishermen from the waters of East Matagorda Bay. The two men were caught in the open bay by a strong cool front that passed through the area that morning and their boat capsized after it took on water due to the strong winds. The two men were wearing life jackets, and were smart enough to grab and hang onto a large empty ice chest. One of the men managed to call for help on his cell phone. The game wardens responded, locating the men approximately one mile from their overturned boat. One game warden said that due to the rough bay conditions they might not have located them as soon as they did if it had not been for the ice chest they were clinging to. By the time they were picked up by the wardens, the men had been in the water for about 45 minutes and were already showing signs of hypothermia.

Once again, poaching in front of a game warden not a good idea: A Menard County game warden along with a Menard County sheriff’s deputy apprehended three subjects hunting deer from the roadway. The game warden and his wife went to visit a deputy and his wife. The game warden had been at the deputy’s house for about 15 minutes when the subjects drove by and shot at a group of deer in front of the deputy’s house. Both officers were standing in the front yard when the subjects drove by and shot. A pair of homemade brass knuckles and a .22 rifle were taken from the subjects. Citations were issued for hunting in closed season and discharge of a firearm from a public roadway.

Text messages lead to cases: On Nov. 16, while inspecting a deer camp on the Louisiana state line, Marion County game wardens checked a Louisiana resident who had been filed on the previous year. After a short interview, the hunter was found to have another Texas resident license even though he was still a Louisiana resident and had already killed one doe and taken it back to Louisiana for processing. The wardens also found fresh deer meat in a cooler they questioned the hunter about. A second hunter was still in the field, so the wardens asked if he could be contacted by cell phone. The first hunter gave one of the game wardens his cell phone to call the second hunter. The game warden noticed there were several new text messages from the second hunter. The warden texted back and forth with the hunter in the field, with the hunter inadvertently admitting to several offenses including taking the untagged deer found in the cooler. The second hunter arrived in camp and was recognized by the other game warden as a prior offender. He had a correct out-of-state license, but the two missing deer tags were found in the hunter’s wallet unused. A total of six deer had been illegally killed with two transported across state lines resulting in 20 cases being filed on three hunters. One hunter was arrested and transported to Marion County Jail.

AR 2008-12-12


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