Field Notes from Texas Game Wardens
Being a Texas Game Warden is serious business, but as in any law enforcement job, some of the on-the-job stories border on the hilarious and inane. Here is a compilation of recent game warden field notes.
It’s Your Own Fault
As a Hudspeth County game warden patrolled an area of the Rio Grande River, he encountered some waterfowl hunters. After talking with the hunters for a few minutes, the warden discovered that one of the individuals did not have a valid hunting license. The hunter admitted to taking several birds. When the warden asked him why he didn’t have a license, the hunter tried to blame an El Paso sporting goods store for not issuing him a proper license. When the warden questioned the other hunters, he found they all had the correct licenses, state stamps and federal duck stamps, all of which were issued by the same El Paso sporting goods store. The warden found an illegally taken coot and three cormorants in the unlicensed hunter’s possession. The warden issued citations for the violations and civil restitution is pending.
A Little Too Late
A Henderson County game warden received a call from a pump technician who was checking well sites about a man dragging a deer off private property to a nearby wooded area. When the hunter noticed the pump technician, he ran to a nearby house and jumped into a truck and sped off. The warden arrived at the house and talked to a woman who lived there. She said her husband just left for town to buy tractor parts. When the man returned to his house a few minutes later, he denied hunting or being on the private property. However, he then said he shot a buck on his property, but the buck jumped the fence to the private property, so he simply went to retrieve it. After the warden questioned him some more, the man confessed to shooting the deer on the private property. He said he got scared when he saw the pump technician, so he left the scene quickly to buy a hunting license in case a game warden showed up. Cases and civil restitution are pending.
That’s a Lot of Illegally Taken Deer
When two Matagorda County game wardens entered a deer hunting camp to check for deer hunting compliance, they noticed a deer hanging from the bucket of a tractor. The three individuals in the camp, all from out of state, admitted to taking several deer, even though none of them had hunting licenses. Further inspection of the camp revealed eight more quartered whitetail deer in three coolers and six buck heads that all measured less than the required 13-inch minimum inside spread. The hunters said they had already thrown three doe heads in the nearby woods, though the wardens only recovered one. The wardens charged the hunters with hunting without a valid non-resident hunting license, taking illegal whitetail buck (six counts) and possession of whitetail deer with proof of sex removed (two counts). The wardens transported all three hunters to meet with the local Justice of the Peace, who received a guilty plea from each hunter. The hunters were fined about $6,000 and owe an additional $8,000 in civil restitution. The wardens donated the seized deer to local charities.
A Fort Bend County game warden was patrolling a neighborhood still under development when he saw two trucks using their headlights to spotlight deer off the road. The warden let the trucks get close to his location, where a few deer were feeding next to him, and saw one occupant shoot at a deer with a crossbow. The warden then pulled both vehicles over and found two occupants in one truck, both with crossbows, and one occupant in the other truck, with his own crossbow. During the warden’s investigation, he found the suspects had tree stands and deer feeders in place along the road, all without the landowner’s consent. The warden filed six charged on the three suspects. No deer were harmed.
Running Toward the Law
After patrolling opening day of mule deer season for several hours, a Dawson County game warden was heading home through Lubbock County when he saw a vehicle driving in the wrong traffic lane. The vehicle was traveling head on in the direction of the warden, who swerved to avoid a head on collision with the vehicle. The warden stopped the vehicle and conducted field sobriety tests, which the driver failed. The warden learned the driver had 31 previous arrests and arrested him for driving while intoxicated.
Wouldn’t Pass Muster
While patrolling Llano County during the general season opening day, a game warden entered a camp with six out-of-state hunters who had 13 whitetail deer, three Rio Grande turkeys and four feral hogs in their possession. After inspecting the animals, tags and hunting licenses, the warden found that one of the hunters was hunting with a free Texas Resident Active Duty Military license. The warden, who is a veteran himself, noticed the individual’s military grooming standards were not up to par with what is usually required of active duty service members. After asking the individual to produce his state and military identification cards, the warden found the individual was actually a citizen of another state and was not active duty military. The warden seized two whitetail bucks and one doe from the individual and filed multiple citations against him. Civil restitution is pending.
Follow the Vultures
When two Willacy County game wardens spotted several turkey vultures in a ranch off a county road, they went to the scene and found a dump site of freshly killed feral hogs and javelinas. The wardens followed the tracks to a hunters’ campsite and found a list of hunters who had hunted that morning. The warden contacted the lease master and found the individual responsible for the dump site. The warden filed waste of game charges against the hunter and civil restitution is pending.