|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2017-10-13                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than 11 months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Oct. 13, 2017
Game Warden Field Notes
The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
With That License? A Jackalope, Maybe
A Presidio County game warden was checking a hunting camp for game law compliance during the second day of pronghorn antelope season when he came upon an out-of-state hunter who had harvested a pronghorn. The hunter did possess a valid pronghorn permit. But, upon inspection of his hunting license, it was discovered that the hunter only purchased a Non-Resident Five Day Special Hunting License ($48). This license is valid for hunting small game, such as rabbits and squirrels, but not a pronghorn. A Non-Resident General Hunting License ($315) is required to hunt all big game animals in Texas. The hunter was cited for hunting without a valid license, received a warning for no hunter education certification, and the pronghorn was seized. The citation and civil restitution for the pronghorn are pending.
Next in Line, Please
On Oct. 1 at about 9 p.m., a Hunt County game warden received a call from a landowner about shots being fired from a county road near her home. The warden responded and soon located a truck with a spotlight being shined from the window. He stopped the vehicle and a brief investigation revealed the subjects inside were the ones shooting from the roadway. The warden seized three spotlights, two semi-automatic rifles and cartridge casings as evidence. As the warden was issuing citations to the group for hunting from a roadway, another vehicle pulled alongside. When the warden attempted to make contact with the occupants of the second vehicle, the driver shifted into reverse and began to flee. The warden was able to stop the fleeing vehicle a short distance away and an investigation turned up methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. A computer check revealed the male and female subjects inside the vehicle had both recently been released from prison. The couple were arrested on drug-related charges. The cases are pending.
No Tag, You're It
A game warden responded to an Operation Game Thief call from Houston dispatch about a possible deer tagging violation. An anonymous caller reported a hunter had harvested a spike white-tailed deer on a Managed Lands Deer Permit lease, and left without properly tagging the animal. The warden was able to locate the hunter at a friend's house where he was skinning the deer. After further investigation, the hunter admitted to not tagging the deer because he wanted to save the tag for a later time. Citations were issued and the case pending.
True Confessions
A game warden in Grimes County received a call from an individual who wanted to sit down and talk about multiple deer that he had taken illegally in recent years across multiple counties. During the interview, the individual admitted to three deer he had killed in Brazos County and multiple burglaries in several different counties. He also admitted to being a felon and was in possession of three different firearms during the time that the deer were taken. All cases linked to the burglary incidents have been turned over to the respective county investigators and charges of felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a stolen firearm are being pursued in Brazos and Grimes counties respectively. All cases are currently pending.
Passed Out
A Montgomery County game warden responding to a possible intoxicated driver call found the subject passed out behind the wheel with his truck in park, motor running, and his foot fully pressing the accelerator in the middle of the road. It was apparent that the driver had been that situation for some time as the vehicle's engine was overheating. The warden turned off the truck engine and began speaking with the driver. The driver kept falling back asleep after answering questions, leading the warden to conclude this was a potential medical emergency. The warden radioed for EMS, who determined the man was having a diabetic episode. The driver recovered quickly after being treated by the medics.
No Tailgating Allowed
Game wardens were patrolling the Sam Houston National Forest when they noticed a restricted area had the lock cut and gate swung open. Upon further investigation, they found several people camping in the restricted area preparing for opening day of bow season. Several citations were issued. While exiting the area the wardens noticed another vehicle in a restricted area. Upon contact with that driver, the wardens discovered the subject had outstanding warrants for his arrest and was in possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arrested and transported to Montgomery County jail. The case is pending.
No Fishing Means No Fishing
A Robertson County game warden responded to a trespassing call from a landowner reporting a subject on his property riding an ATV loaded with fishing gear. The landowner, who has ponds stocked with fish on the property, confronted the trespasser and told him to leave, but the individual refused. Upon arrival, the warden found the landowner but no trespasser. After learning the game warden had been called, the man reportedly gathered his fishing gear and fled the scene. The landowner stated that he wanted to pursue any charges. While the warden was talking with the landowner, local police radioed they had stopped a man riding an ATV illegally on a public roadway a short distance away. The warden responded to that scene and made contact with the subject. After a short interview, the man admitted to riding down a public road and entering into the landowner's property through an open gate that was clearly marked with a no trespassing sign. He claimed he was innocent because he had not yet fished on the property that day. After obtaining a non-consent affidavit and a written statement from the landowner, the subject was placed under arrest for criminal trespass and also charged with operating an ATV on a public roadway. The cases are pending.
High Water Rescues
During a late September flood event in South Texas that saw more than 12 inches of rainfall overnight, game wardens in Dimmit and LaSalle counties assisted with high water rescues and evacuations from ranches involving nearly 250 individuals. A majority of the individuals were oil field workers that had been surrounded by the high water and, in one instance, a crew of 46 workers were having to get on top of their vehicles. With the cooperation of the U.S. Border Patrol, Dimmit County Sheriff's Office, Dimmit County Commissioner's heavy equipment and surrounding fire departments, nearly 100 individuals were rescued/evacuated from the ranch. On the LaSalle County side of the ranch, another 60-plus individuals were also evacuated. Wardens also responded to another call on a ranch that bordered Dimmit and LaSalle counties and used three airboats to evacuate nearly 80 oil field workers.
Not One of Ours
Game wardens in Bell and Travis counties received calls from an individual inquiring if wardens were investigating a boating accident. Since there were no other officers in the area on duty that day, and no reported accidents, they assumed someone might be impersonating a game warden. The wardens tried unsuccessfully to make contact with the individual who made the inquiry, and after tracking him down discovered an acquaintance of his had made the call as a prank. The wardens were provided with the names of two people involved. They tracked one of the persons involved, and advised that his phone was used to impersonate a game warden and make the call. He claimed he was unaware of the incident until the following day. The wardens then tracked down the suspect who admitted making the frightening phone call, who admitted to impersonating a Texas game warden. The suspect also used the actual name of a state police officer. An arrest warrant was obtained for the suspect for a single felony count of impersonating a public servant. The case is pending.

[ Note: This item is more than 11 months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Editors: Images associated with this news release are available on the TPWD Web site (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/news_images/). ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Oct. 13, 2017
60-Year-Old Alligator Gar New Brazos River Record
AUSTIN - Texas Parks and Wildlife Department research biologists have confirmed the new alligator gar bow fishing water body record for the Brazos River is 60 years old, among the oldest fish aged and documented by the department.
Angler Isaac Avery of Longview caught the 197 pound, 7.39 foot alligator gar bow fishing in the Brazos River Sept. 9 - beating the previous record by more than 4 pounds.
After noticing a TPWD research tag left of the fish's dorsal fin, Avery called TPWD Inland Fisheries district biologist Michael Baird, who previously tagged the fish in March 2012. According to Baird, tags returned by anglers provide biologists with information on harvest, abundance, size structure and survival.
"I tagged this fish near Tawakoni Creek, a large Brazos River tributary just down from Waco, back in March 2012 while doing a mark-recapture study," Baird said. "It appears she hadn't moved much since we tagged her in 2012, and she grew approximately 65 mm (2.55 inches) since tagging."
Baird assisted the anglers with locating a scale big enough to weigh the fish at the Brazos Feed and Supply Store. After weighing the fish, taking measurements and collecting the otoliths (bony structures found in the alligator gar's inner ear), the data was sent to the Heart of the Hills Fisheries Science Center (HOHFSC), where researchers are conducting studies to learn more about key population characteristics of alligator gar. Researchers then used the otoliths to age the fish by counting growth rings similar to those on a tree.
"We aged the fish at 60, which indicates it hatched in 1957," said research biologist David Buckmeier. "I looked at the gauge data from Waco around that time and sure enough there was a huge flood from April to July in 1957. What we've seen is that fish over the age of 50 typically come from times when these huge flood pulses occurred, and those events likely create giant year classes of these fish."
According to Buckmeier, alligator gar typically do not spawn every year but prefer spawning habitat created by seasonal inundation of low-lying areas of vegetation - like the floods of 1957. Research on the Trinity River confirmed that the years of highest reproductive success of alligator gar coincided with years of good spring rains.
As big as this fish was, other Texas rivers and lakes hold trophy alligator gar that are even bigger. Angler Marty McClellan set the state bow-fishing record for alligator gar in 2001 with an 8 foot, 290 pound fish from the Trinity River - a record that still stands to this day. The world record, caught in Mississippi in 2011, measured 8 feet 5 inches and weighed 327 pounds. TPWD researchers examined otoliths from that fish and estimated its age at 95 years.
HOHFSC biologists are conducting several studies to learn more about Texas alligator gar populations with the goal of providing management recommendations for the sustainability of this species for present and future anglers. Past and ongoing research projects include sampling alligator gar populations in five river systems, tagging individual fish and recording their movements, and working with gar anglers to learn how they use the fishery.
Currently, Texas permits the harvest of one alligator gar per day with no minimum length limit. Bow fishing, rod and reel and jug lines are all legal methods for harvesting the limit of one fish per day.
For images of the record catch, visit the TPWD News Images online. To learn more about alligator gar, view range maps or explore previous news releases, magazine articles and YouTube videos, visit the TPWD news roundup.