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April 8, 2010

Game Warden Lt. Col. Craig Hunter Gets Lifetime Achievement Award

AUSTIN — Lt. Col. Craig Hunter, a 36-year law enforcement veteran, has been named recipient of the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award of the 100 Club of Central Texas.

Hunter, second-in-command of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Law Enforcement Division, which includes 532 game wardens and 127 non-commissioned personnel, received the award April 9 at the 100 Club’s 27th annual awards banquet at the Texas Disposal System Exotic Game Ranch near Buda.

The 100 Club’s mission is to lead community efforts in providing financial assistance and support for the families of first responders seriously injured or killed in the line of duty, and to provide resources to enhance the safety and welfare of first responders.

Currently overseeing all law enforcement field operations for the department, Hunter had been in charge of the Internal Affairs Unit and Executive Protection Team until his promotion to lieutenant colonel in 2006. He joined the department as a game warden in 1984 and steadily moved up in rank.

Prior to beginning his state service, Hunter served as a patrol officer with the Temple Police Department from 1974-1979 and with the Irving Police Department from 1979-1980. After a short stint with the Lampasas County Sheriff’s Office, Hunter went to work as an investigator with the Bell County Sheriff’s Office until 1983.

While getting on-the-job experience as a peace officer, Hunter furthered his education in the classroom. In 1976, he got an associate degree in law enforcement from Temple Junior College. Three years later he went back to school, earning a bachelor of science in criminal justice from Texas A&M Central Texas. In 1981, he received a master’s degree in criminal justice.

As a city, county and state officer, Hunter has been involved in hundreds of criminal investigations ranging from homicides and narcotics cases to state and federal game law violations.

One of the first Texas game wardens to use a decoy deer to catch illegal night hunters, Hunter made more than 100 cases in Montgomery County on the first night of the operation and had a 100 per cent conviction rate. Later, he was the lead investigator in an 18-month case in which a Dallas businessman was indicted on three felony counts for claiming a trophy set of antlers taken from a buck in Kansas were from a Texas-harvested deer.

Along with his state law enforcement commission, Hunter also holds a commission as an agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Hunter had opportunity to use his dual commission during a complicated undercover operation ranging from Houston to Boston after which 18 persons were arrested for illegally killing bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, antelope and white-tail deer in Alaska, Alabama, Colorado, Texas and Wyoming.

In 2005, Hunter headed a team of 111 Texas game wardens sent to New Orleans to assist with search and rescue efforts following the devastating Hurricane Katrina. During the operation, the Texans were credited with more than 5,000 rescues.

Hunter and his wife Bernadette have a son, Craig Jr., who is a freshman at Texas A&M and a member of the Corps of Cadets.


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