|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2005-03-21                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than 12 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [KE]
March 21, 2005
Man Wins Contest With Alleged Illegally-Taken Buck
WOOD COUNTY, Texas -- Billy Ray Herring, 65, of Quitman, could have ended up with three prize rifles, free mounts of his kill, and all the great press he could handle.
Instead, he owes the state $6,220 in civil restitution and faces felony charges
What happened? He killed a trophy buck, entered it into a bunch of state and local contests and is accused of going to buy his hunting license AFTER he took the buck.
Herring was charged March 11 with killing a deer without a license and with three second-degree felonies for tampering with government documents.
The charges stem from the fact that Herring is accused of buying the license to defraud those running the contests he entered. He signed certifications on the entry forms saying he took the animal using legal means and methods, including on the form to enter the Texas Big Game Awards, run by the Texas Wildlife Association and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. He also entered contests run by the Tyler Morning Telegraph and the Town of Mt. Pleasant that involved him signing similar agreements.
Herring had actually WON the newspaper contest for its North Texas division and received a new Remington 700, .7-magnum rifle, and a free mount.
Game Warden Ronny Ward, who investigated the case along with Game Warden Kurt Kelley, said it started with a phone call in February from a taxidermist in Wood County. The buck had scored anywhere between 157 and 165 B&C points.
Investigators learned through witness accounts that Herring showed the deer to folks around 7:30 a.m. on the day he hunted it, (Nov. 6, 2004). But when game wardens checked his hunting license, they found he bought it at 8:18 a.m. that day. He is accused of falsifying all his contest entry forms, writing on them he took the deer around 5 p.m.
Herring was being held under a total of $11,900 bond in the Wood County Correctional Facility. He made bond later that day. The case is scheduled to be heard by a Wood County Grand Jury this morning, March 21.

[ Note: This item is more than 12 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [KE]
March 21, 2005
Arrests Made in 'Operation Head Hunter' Deer Poaching Case
ABILENE, Texas -- Two men face multiple felony poaching charges after a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department undercover investigation that spanned two states and 1,100 miles and which involved antlered deer heads being sold via the Internet.
"Operation Head Hunter" began in October of 2003 and involved TPWD game wardens going 'hunting' with the suspects. During the last 15 months, the wardens built their cases against Jerry Neil Schmidt, 38, and Matthew Ross Cates, 33, both of Abilene.
The two are also accused of poaching a buck from Caprock Canyons State Park, home of the Texas State Bison Herd.
Both men were arraigned in Abilene on March 16.
Schmidt faces a total of seven felony charges and five Class A misdemeanors in Texas and one felony charge and three misdemeanors in New Mexico. His bond was set at $275,000. Schmidt had some past hunting violations with overdue civil restitution and had a suspended hunting license at the time of these current alleged violations. Schmidt is accused of violations in Shackleford, King, Motley, Briscoe, and Jones counties and at Caprock Canyon State Park. The charges include hunting from a public road, hunting at night, hunting without landowner consent and felon in possession of a firearm.
Cates faces five felony charges and five Class A misdemeanor charges. His bond was set at $74,000 and he made that bond March 16. Cates is accused of violations in King, Motley, Briscoe, and Jones counties and at Caprock Canyon State Park. The charges include hunting from a public road, hunting at night and hunting without landowner consent.
Col. Pete Flores, TPWD law enforcement director, said this should serve as a warning.
"The people of Texas have made the activities that these men are accused of illegal and do not tolerate this. Texas game wardens will always work hard to apprehend those who flagrantly disregard the law. Hopefully, this case will deter others that have the same idea," Flores said.

[ Note: This item is more than 12 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [LH]
March 21, 2005
Budweiser ShareLunkers Showing Up Statewide
ATHENS, Texas -- Anglers caught four Budweiser ShareLunkers from four widely separated lakes the weekend of March 11-13, bringing the season's total to 16.
The big bass came from lakes Alan Henry, Austin, Choke Canyon and Fork.
Mike Modisett of Lubbock caught lunker No. 13 of the current season from Lake Alan Henry on March 11. The 13.82-pound fish bit a bass minnow in 15 feet of water under a crappie house. It measured 25.75 inches long and 20 inches in girth. The fish was the tenth to be entered in the Budweiser ShareLunker program from Lake Alan Henry and the fifth to be caught from the lake this season.
Lake Fork contributed its fifth fish of the season as well on March 11 when Art Price of Crowley hooked a 13.25-pounder while fishing a black and blue jig with Zoom trailer in nine feet of water on the side of a point. The fish was 26 inches long and 21.5 inches in girth.
Far to the south of those lakes, Dwayne ("Duke") Kinley of Austin pulled a 13.07-pound largemouth from four feet of water in Lake Austin on March 12. Kinley was fishing a secondary point using a Brush Hog. The fish was 26.25 inches long and 20 inches around.
At about the same time Kinley caught his fish, George Shaw of San Antonio was battling a 13.26-pounder on Choke Canyon Reservoir. Shaw was fishing in 8-9 feet of water when the big bass bit a watermelon red Brush Hog. The fish was 24.75 inches long and 20.25 inches in girth. Shaw's fish is only the fourth to be entered into the Budweiser ShareLunker program from Choke Canyon.
Although the Kinley and Shaw fish appear to have spawned, ShareLunker program manager David Campbell said the fish are capable of spawning again at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Hatchery personnel began pairing males and females on March 14, according to Intensive Hatchery manager Juan Martinez.
Entries will be accepted into the ShareLunker program until April 30. Anglers legally catching a 13-pound or heavier largemouth bass in Texas waters, public or private, may donate or lend the fish to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for spawning. To enter a fish call David Campbell at (903) 681-0550 or page him at (888) 784-0600 and leave a phone number, including area code, where you can be reached. TPWD personnel will attempt to pick the fish up within 12 hours, day or night.
On the Net:
Current ShareLunker Entries: http://tpwd.texas.gov/fish/infish/hatchery/tffc/entries.phtml

[ Note: This item is more than 12 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [KE]
March 21, 2005
Flat-Out Fishing Events Coming Up
PORT ARANSAS, Texas -- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Anheuser-Busch, Coastal Conservation Association Texas and the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce will be sponsoring the first of two very special fishing events on Saturday, April 23 in Port Aransas to help anglers enjoy and succeed in fishing shallow water.
Some of Texas's most recognized shallow-water fishing experts and scientists will be providing information to all anglers to safely and successfully boat and fish the bay waters of Texas.
Seminars begin at 8 a.m. that day at the Port Aransas Civic Center. Cost is $20 per adult and $10 for each additional family member for the day-long event. Children younger than 17 accompanied by an adult are admitted free.
Topics include boat maintenance; fishing over seagrass flats, using Global Positioning Systems, water safety, sportfish life histories, drum fishing, sight casting, and photography. Speakers include Larry McKinney, Ph.D. and (Coastal Fisheries Division Director), Earl Nottingham (TPWD Magazine photographer), Lefty Ray Chapa (Licensed Kayak Fishing Guide), Capt. Pat Hunt (Pat Hunt Fishing Charters), Nolan Bell (Island Boat Works), Paul Choucair and Bill Karel (TPWD biologists).
Other presenters include John Glenn's Taxidermy, Texas Dept. of Agriculture " GO TEXAN program, Capt. Billy Trimble, Texas Sea Grant Program, and the Coastal Conservation Association Texas.
All proceeds from the event will go to the Parks & Wildlife Foundation of Texas to support the Crab Trap Cleanup program. Pre-register by sending cash, check or money order to the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce, 412 W. Cotter, Port Aransas, TX 78373 or register at the Civic Center on the day of the event. The event is restricted to the first 150 people who sign up. For more information contact the Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce at (800) 45COAST or TPWD at (361) 825-3356.
The second Flat-Out Fishing event is scheduled at the Texas A&M University-Galveston campus on Saturday, May 7. For more information about that event contact TPWD at (281) 534-0110.

[ Note: This item is more than 12 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
March 21, 2005
Master Naturalist Volunteer Hits Record 5,000 Hours
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Master Naturalist program began in San Antonio in 1997, with the goal of training citizen volunteers to implement conservation, management and natural resource education and outreach projects in their communities.
Almost eight years later, volunteer Thea Platz has exceeded 5,000 hours of service, a milestone for the program.
"Thea was a student in the first class of the pilot chapter of Texas Master Naturalists," said Pat Morton, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Conservation Outreach Program Leader. "She emerged as one of the program's most effective leaders, and is admired by many as a master trainer, administrator and cheerleader for the program."
Platz was the local chapter's first vice president and currently serves as president of the Alamo-Area Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist Program.
"She's a single parent and has always had a very strong interest in nature," said Anton Hajek, Alamo Area Chapter secretary.
Hajek was also a founding member and first president of the local Master Naturalist Chapter.
"It started with about 40 people in a sort of glorified garage," Hajek said. "We actually toasted with champagne that first night."
Platz racked up many hours just setting up policies and procedures for the initial program, something that turned out to be a two-year job, said Hajek.
"Originally it just had to be done, and somebody had to do it," Platz said. "And it was just fun; I can honestly say that I never did one single project because I wanted hours."
In addition to the many hours of "grunt work," which Platz said just seemed to pile up, she has spent a great deal of time working with San Antonio's youth-also part of her volunteer activities with the Master Naturalist Program.
"I had the opportunity to work with a man named Thomas Cleaver on an after-school youth program," Platz said. "These are inner-city kids he was working with and we helped him create a habitat right there at his center, so the kids could do their work right there."
Platz also helped organize a trip for the kids to Calaveras Lake, where they practiced their birding skills, camped overnight, climbed a rock-wall and kayaked.
Platz's record achievement of 5,685 volunteer hours through 2004 is valued at $97,725* by the Texas Master Naturalist Program. The value of volunteer service was calculated using $17.19 per hour. The hourly value is based on the average hourly earnings for private nonagricultural workers as determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (http://www.independentsector.org/).
After returning from a 3-day nature camp for fifth graders, Platz prepared to head out to a Master Naturalist meeting, then to Houston for more meetings.
"I enjoy what I do, so it's fun to me," Platz said. "As far as what most people consider 'down time,' I don't have much."
There are 30 chapters of the Texas Master Naturalist program, and it is sponsored statewide by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Cooperative Extension Service. The success in San Antonio has led to the inception of a National Master Naturalist program.
Through the 30 local chapters, program volunteers receive 40 hours of in-depth natural resource training by educators and specialists from universities, agencies, nature centers, museums and other organizations. In return, volunteers contribute at least 40 hours of service in community education, demonstration and habitat enhancement projects while pursuing a minimum of eight hours of advanced training in areas of special interest.
For more information about the Texas program, or to find out how to join, please contact Michelle Haggerty, Texas Master Naturalist Program Coordinator at (979) 458-2034 or mhaggerty@wfscgate.tamu.edu.

[ Note: This item is more than 12 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [KE]
March 21, 2005
Stay Tuned
Information from Texas Parks and Wildlife is available on radio and television, as well as the newsstand.
Passport to Texas, TPWD's radio series of weekday, 90-second stories is broadcast on more than 100 Texas stations. Airing the week March 21-25, a persistent plant, with roots from South America, is sprouting up in Texas waters. We'll get into the spirit of spring with one of the most recognizable birds of the season-blue birds. We'll meet a woman whose affection for blue birds brings happiness wherever she goes. Plus, the room and board is so nice at one state park, bluebirds keep coming back year after year.
For more information, visit the Web.
Video News
TPWD provides video news reports that run in newscasts on numerous Texas stations, as well as on cable and satellite outlets around the nation.
For more information, go to the Web.
"Texas Parks & Wildlife" is a weekly half-hour television series seen on PBS affiliates around the state. Airing March 20-27, like father, like son? Arthur McCall is a Texas game warden stationed in Pleasanton. His son Michael is a game warden in the Fort Worth area. Not only do these two share the same line of work, they even have the same hobby; painting what they see in the Texas outdoors. Also this week, learn about the long history of the Battleship TEXAS; propane is the campers' fuel of choice; kids and teachers create wildscapes at their school; and prairie chickens boom and strut.
For more information about this week's programs and where they can be viewed, visit the Web.
Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine is always available on newsstands throughout the state and by subscription for $19.95 a year. To subscribe, call (800) 937-9393 or order online.
On the Net:
Passport to Texas: http://www.passporttotexas.org/
TPWD Video News: http://tpwd.texas.gov/news/tv/vnr/thismonth/
TPWD on PBS: http://tpwd.texas.gov/tv
TPW Magazine: http://www.tpwmagazine.com/