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Game Warden Field Notes
The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
- Shots fired, but at dove, not people: Dove season in Far West Texas started with an unusual twist. An excited hunter raced up to a game warden checking hunters on the Rio Grande, a little downriver from El Paso. The hunter explained that uniformed Mexican police had crossed the river with weapons drawn and were heading their way. The game warden and several U.S. Border Patrol officers intercepted the Mexican officers and learned they were responding to a shots fired call. Case closed.
- Nope, not normal agricultural practices: While on patrol near Alpine on Sept. 1, Brewster County game wardens discovered what appeared to be a baited dove hunting field. To get a clear definition of what would be considered normal agricultural planting practices in Brewster County, the wardens asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to assist with the investigation. A USFWS agent concluded that the agricultural planting practices used on this field were not normal for Brewster County and that the field was baited. The state game wardens, working with USFWS, began watching the field for possible dove hunting activity. On the evening of Sept. 2, the wardens noticed several vehicles parked near the field, and the wardens could also hear shots in the area. Entering the field, the wardens made contact with six hunters who had harvested 71 dove. The wardens seized the birds and issued citations for hunting dove over bait. Each case was referred to the USFWS for prosecution.
- Warden recovers drowning victim: Sept. 2, Newton County Game Warden Ellis Powell responded to a call on Toledo Bend about a body floating in a cove. Powell was able to get the body ashore and identify it as a 74-year-old man who had lived nearby. It appeared that he had fallen in the water and had been unable to get out due to the muddy shoreline.
- You need more than just numbers on your boat: On Sept. 3 Matagorda County Game Warden Aaron Koenig and Wharton County Game Warden Chris Bird were patrolling the Colorado River near Matagorda. During a water safety inspection, the two wardens recognized someone they had cited for fishing violations. The man also had been warned at the beginning of summer about his boat not being currently registered. The boat now displayed a current 2012 registration decal, but when Warden Koenig checked the assigned registration through communications it came back still as an out-of-date registration and in another owner’s name. Warden Bird then checked the decal serial number and found it belonged to a different vessel owned by the current operator. The operator was cited for unregistered vessel, failure to transfer ownership, and display of fictitious decal.
- It’s dove season, not deer season: On Sept. 3, Hardin County Game Warden Mike Boone received information that a Silsbee resident had killed a deer on the previous day. Warden Boone located the subject and after a short interview he confessed and gave the warden the deer.
- Warden hooks two for fishing with a net: On Sept. 4, Galveston County Game Warden Adam Clark filed on two individuals for using a gill net to take fish. The violators were in possession of numerous fish, including several speckled trout and red fish.
- Sir, yes sir! Big-time oops: While working a large group of dove hunters in Waller County on opening day, Harris County Game Warden Cullen Stakes noticed one individual leave the spot he was hunting and move into a thick, brushy area nearby. After a short search, Warden Stakes located the individual and determined that the hunter was using an unplugged shotgun. A criminal history check revealed that the violator, an Army National Guardsman, was wanted on an outstanding warrant for Military Desertion. Game Warden Stakes, aka Captain Cullen Stakes of the Army National Guard, arrested the individual and transported him to the Waller County Jail.
- Talk about an order to go: On Sept. 4, Harris County Game Wardens Jennifer Inkster and Tim Holland were patrolling the Kemah Channel when they were waved down by the owner of a local restaurant on the water. The owner said that a 76-foot catamaran boat had just yanked the entire dock away from his floating establishment, and some of his property had fallen in the water. The wardens located the vessel and performed a water safety check and field sobriety test on the operator. The operator was unable to explain why he pulled the dock from the restaurant and didn’t stop to talk with the owner. After failing a field sobriety test, the operator was arrested for boating while intoxicated and transported to the Harris County Jail.
- Magistrate has busy weekend in Starr County: Wardens Baker and Norris had a very productive opening weekend for special whitewing season in Starr County. Through the weekend, the wardens located hunters hunting over bait, in closed area, with unplugged shotguns, no hunter safety, killing protected species, and one field with about 15 hunters and not a license among them.
- Season’s closed year-round for marijuana: While patrolling for dove hunters, Starr County Game Warden Dennis Gazaway, Jr. observed a vehicle heading toward the Rio Grande from State Highway 83. As Dennis approached the vehicle, he observed two subjects exiting the brush with large bundles. Upon seeing Dennis, the subjects dropped the bundles and ran back into the brush. Dennis approached the vehicle and found three more bundles of what appeared to be marijuana. The marijuana, 466.6 pounds, and the vehicle were turned over to Starr County Sheriff’s Department. Starr County deputies and DPS assisted with the seizure.
- Only 114 birds over the limit: On Sept. 3, King/Knox County Game Warden Jim Daniels and Dickens/Kent County Game Warden Danny Kessel entered a camp in King County. The four out-of-state hunters were 114 dove over their possession limit.
- Just trying to give the kids a good hunt: On Sept. 3, Burnet County Game Wardens Ronnie Langford and Brent Whitus were checking dove hunters and checked a group of five young hunters. It was discovered that they were hunting over bait, one did not have a hunting license, they had an unplugged shotgun, no hunter education, and they had killed an Inca dove. The owner of the property admitted to putting out bait so the boys would have something to shoot at. Case pending.
- Bird dog turns stool pigeon: Llano County wardens Rick Snitkin and Kevin Webb filed on five dove hunters for hunting around a deer feeder baited with milo. The hunters’ retriever didn’t help their case when it parked itself directly under the tripod feeder each time it came back with a bird. One subject was arrested for Class B warrants.
- Killing six deer on the road nets indictments: Llano Game Warden Rick Snitkin presented three felony cases to a Llano County grand jury on two subjects who poached an eight-point buck and subsequently killed five other deer in one night on a county road. One other subject who allegedly stated he was going to do harm to Warden Snitkin and his family was true billed on a charge of retaliation.
- Spotlight case turns to felony: Red River County Wardens Benny Richards and Daniel Roraback were patrolling the east side of the Chapman Ranch in Bowie County on Sept. 3 when they began following a truck spotlighting. The wardens witnessed a subject in the vehicle shoot two times. The subject was determined to be a felon, so while Warden Richards was dealing with the arrested subject, Roraback found deer hair, blood, and feces in the back of the subject’s truck. After a short investigation, it was determined the subjects had shot a 5-point buck the previous night. The subject was transported to the Bowie County Jail. After leaving the jail, Wardens Hervey and Doug Williams teamed up with Roraback and Richards to locate the other occupant from incident who was the shooter of the deer. Upon arriving at the subject’s residence, it was determined he was also a felon and had outstanding felony warrants. Subjects were filed on for felon in possession of a firearm, hunting deer in closed season, taking an illegal buck, and no hunting license. Cases and civil restitution pending.
- Wrong way to mentor a new hunter: On Sept. 3 Game Wardens Deshanna Creager and Scott Kirkpatrick came across several dove hunters from the Metroplex. During the process of checking licenses and bag limits, they found bait in and around the area they were hunting. After a brief investigation, the father-in-law of one the hunters admitted to placing the bait to increase the likelihood his son-in-law would have a good hunt so he’d be more likely to take up the sport. Cases pending.
- Test ride ends tragically: On Sept. 3 McLennan County Game Warden Kurt Slaughter responded to a fatal boat accident on the Brazos River in Waco. The operator had been participating in a sanctioned racing event and was taking the boat for a test drive. Witnesses said the boat went airborne, and the operator was ejected at a speed of 120 mph-plus. The operator was transported to a local hospital but did not survive.
- Dove OK, but not the dope: On Sept. 1 Erath County Game Warden Zach Havens located a vehicle in a pasture. No one was around but a gun case and a box of shotgun shells lay on the tailgate. The warden returned after dark to find several hunters gathered around the truck cleaning dove. A check showed everyone to be in compliance with TPWD regulations. Then the warden asked about the empty gun case he had seen earlier and was told it belonged to someone who had not come in yet. The warden waited a few minutes and observed headlights coming across the pasture to his location. He checked these two additional dove hunters and found no hunting violations. The only problem is that one of the hunters had dope stashed in his game bag along with his birds. Case pending.
- Wardens seize three miles of gill net in Gulf: On Sept. 7, Game Warden Sgt. James Dunks along with TPWD mechanic Chris Heyse and two Coast Guard officials patrolled the Gulf of Mexico near the Mexico border aboard the patrol vessel Captain Williams. About 3 miles of gill net was removed just past the third sandbar near the mouth of the Rio Grande. The nets were running north to south, catching anything that attempted to get into shallow water. Hundreds of king mackerel and various species of sharks were tangled up in the nets.
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