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TPWD Game Warden Field Notes
The following are excerpts from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
It was a net loss — On Jan. 26, game wardens from Starr County and McMullen County stopped a Mexican commercial fishing vessel on Falcon Lake. Two subjects were apprehended and approximately 2,000 feet of gill net were seized. A 17-foot boat and motor were also seized. The same day, game wardens from Zapata County and Jim Hogg County apprehended a Mexican commercial fishing vessel on the same lake. Two subjects were arrested and approximately 2,000 feet of gill net were seized. An 18-foot boat and motor also were seized.
Easier than fishing — On Jan. 24, the Midland office received several calls complaining about a woman with a dip net at Beal Park taking trout. A Midland County game warden headed to the community lake but did not locate the woman. Several witnesses who had seen the woman wrote down the plate number to the vehicle she was driving, and the game warden located the woman at her house where he observed her beheading and gutting fish. The woman had 14 fish in her possession, had no fishing license and used the dip net to capture the fish. She claimed that she did not know it was against the law to use a net, even though several witnesses said they told her it was illegal. She received a citation for taking fish with illegal methods.
Oh, y’all have game laws here? — On Jan. 22, Tarrant and Wise County game wardens teamed-up to patrol southern Wise County for waterfowl hunters. After hearing numerous shotgun blasts coming from a sandpit located about a half-mile from a county road, the wardens entered the property on foot, initiating contact with the hunters. Upon completion of the contact, the wardens found numerous violations including possession of lead shot, exceeding the daily bag limit of redhead duck, and exceeding the daily bag limit of duck. The hunters were found with a total of 17 ducks, five of which were redheads. Appropriate citations and restitution are pending.
And they apply to out-of-state hunters, too? — On Jan. 20, a Calhoun County game warden teamed-up with a United States Fish and Wildlife Service special agent and arrested six Delaware hunters involved in multiple waterfowl hunting violations near the Guadalupe Delta. The arrest resulted in 32 citations for taking geese in closed season, over the limit in ducks, possession of toxic shot shells, and no non-resident hunting licenses or waterfowl stamps. Criminal cases will be filed in the federal court. Restitution will be filed with the State Attorney General's Office for the birds.
Honestly, we’re just bad shots — On Jan. 21, a Montgomery County game warden was working an area where he believed some hunters had been hunting roosting wood ducks. Sure enough, right at dusk the shots started. Dean apprehended two men for hunting after hours. The two men had two ducks. They said it was because they were not good shots, and they had probably killed most of the birds in the area on previous hunts. Cases are pending.
Just say “no parking” — A Lampasas County game warden located a vehicle parked alongside the roadway near the Lampasas River. Unable to locate the driver in the riverbed, the warden requested a deputy to stand-by while he attempted to find the driver, suspected of trespassing. The deputy happened to be a K9 officer and after the officers discussed the truck and location, both decided that the dog should make a trip around the vehicle. The K9 alerted on the vehicle, and Hill was able to locate the female driver trespassing on the adjacent property. After a search, 10 grams of methamphetamines, less than 2 ounces of marijuana, pipes, syringes, razor knives and other drug paraphernalia were found in the truck. The suspect was transported to Lampasas County Jail and second-degree felony charges are pending along with existing pending drug charges from Travis, Bell, and Bastrop counties.
Busy New Year’s — On Jan. 1, at approximately 2:00 p.m., game wardens from Clay, Montague and Wise counties were requested to assist the Montague County Sheriff and area fire departments in an attempt to evacuate the public from area residences that were potentially in the path of a large prairie fire. With wind gusts up to 50 mph, the fire quickly spread from Clay County into western Montague County. By the next day, the fire had destroyed approximately 51 homes, and numerous barns, livestock, game animals and birds. Approximately 65,000 acres were destroyed.
Wake-up call — On Jan. 1, an Angelina County game warden filed charges on two local men for Class A hunting without landowner consent. The first suspect was found passed out in the road ditch on a farm road with his girlfriend. When the first suspect was awakened, he advised that his buddy and the buddy’s girlfriend were stuck on a logging road. The buddy and his girlfriend were located, and they had two loaded shotguns with buckshot and a “plugged-in” spotlight.
That’s a mighty big varmint — An Ellis County game warden was ending an investigation in Jan. that included hunting without consent when three pregnant cows were found dead on the landowner’s property. Multiple interviews showed two subjects at the location the night the cows were found. The game warden interviewed both; they denied being on the property that night or killing the cows. The subjects did confess to hunting hog and varmints there the day after without permission. The game warden received warrants for both subjects; they were arrested and interviewed by sheriff’s office investigators about the cows. The subjects denied killing the cows until they were told a vet had removed the heads of the cows with the bullets in them to match the gun the warden had recovered for evidence. Both suspects confessed and wrote statements that they were varmint hunting when they saw eyes shine in their spotlights and realized too late that what they had shot were not varmints. Both subjects paid restitution over $2,000 to the landowner, and misdemeanor criminal mischief charges and hunt without landowners consent charges were filed.
Owl catches woman — On Dec. 13, an Irion County game warden received an urgent call from the sheriff’s office stating that they had received a 911 call from a woman requesting a game warden. The caller reported that she had stopped on the roadside to assist an injured owl, and the owl had attacked her and now had its talons impaled in her leg and would not turn loose. The game warden called the woman and instructed her to place a towel or cloth over the owl’s head, try to remain calm and quiet and maybe the owl would release its hold. When the game warden arrived, he found the woman and her five children in the vehicle, but the owl had left the area. The grateful woman stated that she had done as instructed, the owl released its hold, and she kicked it into the ditch. The warden then advised her to get prompt medical attention for her wounds. The woman stated she would and that she would never touch another wild animal.
Freezer burn — On Dec. 17, a Bowie County game warden received a call from the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission that they had information on an illegal deer from their state that had been brought to Texas. The warden and an Arkansas warden located the residence and made contact with the owner. The owner stated his son had killed deer in Texas but not Arkansas. The father showed the officers two bucks in the freezer. They were whole, un-skinned and frozen solid since Thanksgiving. The father stated his son had killed one and his 5-year-old granddaughter killed the other around 8 a.m. on Nov. 24. The Texas warden checked for a hunting license through Houston communications, and it showed the son had bought a license Nov. 24 at 10:17 a.m. The Texas warden had the man contact his son. The son arrived and admitted to killing both deer and not tagging them. The son also stated that he had bought the license after the deer were killed. Citations were issued. The wardens had a hard time getting the deer out of the freezer because they were frozen together and to the freezer itself. After an hour of pouring hot water and also trying a water hose running on the deer, they still would not move. The son tied a chain around the deer being seized and tried pulling them out of the freezer with his vehicle, but no luck. That's when the homeowner got on his tractor, and with the use of the front-end loader, chain, both officers, and his son lifted the frozen deer out and into the bed of warden's patrol vehicle.
Tip: don’t poach in front of the warden’s house — On Dec. 11, a Shelby County game warden met a small pickup on a state highway just south of the warden’s residence. There was nothing odd about the vehicle, but the warden continued to watch it in his rearview mirror. Shortly after it passed, the warden noticed the driver-side mirror appear to “light up.” The warden quickly turned around and caught up to the vehicle, which now had a light out each window, one of which was shining into the warden’s father-in-law’s pasture. A .30-06 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and three lights were found in the vehicle. The suspect quickly admitted that he had been traveling the highway to get to work in the early morning hours and had repeatedly seen deer there and wanted to shoot one. Case pending.
What caliber arrow was that? — On Dec. 8, a call was received from a deer processor stating that a deer that had been taken the previous night needed to be inspected. The processor stated that he thought that the deer could have been taken illegally. Grayson County game wardens inspected the deer. A large hole in the back of the deer’s head was observed. The wardens put a hold on the carcass and took the head to a local taxidermy shop where an autopsy was performed by an experienced wildlife surgeon. After several attempts, a large slug was removed from the deer’s head. Grayson County is an archery-only county, making this an illegal kill. Upon interviewing the suspect, he admitted to killing the deer with a 12-gauge slug. The deer scored 161 5/8 Boone & Crockett. Case pending.
Wardens to the rescue — On Nov. 24, a Delta County game warden and a Hopkins County game warden rescued three duck hunters on Cooper Lake when their boat capsized. One of the hunters was disabled and was being held with only his head out of the water by the other two hunters. All hunters were rescued, along with the hunter's wheelchair. It was a day of Thanksgiving for all.
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