+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+
|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2018-01-25                                    |
+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+
|  This page contains only plain text, no HTML formatting codes.          |
|  It is not designed for display in a browser but for copying            |
|  and editing in whatever software you use to lay out pages.             |
|  To copy the text into an editing program:                              |
|    --Display this page in your browser.                                 |
|    --Select all.                                                        |
|    --Copy.                                                              |
|    --Paste in a document in your editing program.                       |
|  If you have any suggestions for improving these pages, send            |
|  an e-mail to webtech@tpwd.state.tx.us and mention Plain Text Pages.    |
+-------------------------------------------------------------------------+

[ Note: This item is more than six 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 ]
Jan. 25, 2018
Denton County Man Admits to Poaching Record Whitetail Buck
AUSTIN - The second largest whitetail buck ever in Texas could be headed to the record books with an asterisk: poached. Earlier this week, a Denton County man pleaded no contest to illegally taking the trophy deer, which scored 278 points under the Boone & Crockett scoring system, last October near Pilot Point, Texas.
Travis D. Johnson of Aubrey, Texas, was sentenced in Denton County Criminal Court on Monday, Jan. 22, to two years of probation and 40 hours community service, plus court costs. He also faces in excess of $53,000 in civil restitution fines from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and is prohibited from purchasing a hunting license for the duration of his deferred adjudication period.
"What an ill-fated legacy for what could have been, and should have been, a remarkable testament to Texas whitetail deer," said Col. Grahame Jones, TPWD Law Enforcement Director. "It's tragic that in the pursuit of this magnificent specimen, Mr. Johnson chose to violate hunting's code of ethics and the game laws designed to protect our state's precious wildlife resources. It's something he'll have to live with."
Almost immediately after news of the huge buck broke on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, Texas game wardens became aware of rumors alleging Johnson may have harvested the buck after legal hunting hours the night before. Based on a photo being circulated online that showed Johnson posing with the field dressed deer during daylight hours, along with comments that he had taken it with a bow the previous evening, wardens had concerns about the care and disposition of the venison considering the warm temperatures. Hunters are required to keep the meat of harvested game in edible condition.
Denton County game warden Stormy McCuistion met with Johnson at his residence the afternoon of Oct. 8 to inspect the carcass, and was informed it had been discarded at a different location due to concerns about the meat possibly being infected. Johnson claimed to have wounded the buck on Sept. 30, but was unable to retrieve it. When he saw the deer on images captured by his game trail camera a few days later, it exhibited entry and exit wounds. Since then, Johnson explained he began pursuing the animal in earnest in hopes of putting an end to its suffering, going so far as to spend the night in his hunting stand to avoid spooking deer. He said he got his opportunity at about 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 and dispatched the buck with his bow.
After inspecting the deer carcass, game wardens then went to the area where Johnson claimed to have killed the big deer to confirm the details of his story. During a conversation with the landowner adjacent to the property where Johnson hunted, game wardens became suspicious about the timeline. The landowner recalled texting Johnson at about an hour past dark on Oct. 7 asking if he was okay since he noticed he had not returned to his vehicle. Johnson replied that he was safe, but made no mention of having successfully taken the big buck an hour earlier.
-30-

[ Note: This item is more than six months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Jan. 25, 2018
TPW Commission Recognizes TPWD Staff for Outstanding Achievement
AUSTIN-- Two Texas game wardens and the Kerr Wildlife Management Area (WMA) were recognized during Thursday's meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in Austin.
The awards were presented by partners recognizing the recipients, including the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB), the Association of Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts (ATSWCD), the Texas Game Warden Association, and the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA).
Kerr WMA Receives Friend of Conservation Award From Kerr SWCD and Texas State SWCB
The Kerr WMA was recognized Thursday as the recipient of the Friend of Conservation Award at the TPW Commission meeting.
Since the opening of the Kerr WMA, wildlife staff have shared their research and collaborated on several studies and projects with the Kerr County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).
The Kerr WMA develops and manages wildlife habitats, populations of wildlife species, provides research opportunities and public access to hunting. The wildlife management area and Kerr County SWCD have worked together on projects dating back to the mid-1950's.
The Texas Conservation Awards Program recognizes conservationists and the vital role they play in managing Texas' natural resources. The purpose of the program is to acknowledge, recognize, and honor individuals that dedicate their time and efforts to the conservation of natural resources.
Categories recognized through the Texas Conservation Awards Program are: Poster Contest and Junior and Senior Essay Contests, Conservation Farmer, Outstanding Soil and Water Conservation District, Conservation Rancher, Friend of Conservation, Conservation Teacher and Wildlife Conservationist.
Game Warden Gene Fernandez Named SEAFWA Officer of the Year
Dimmit County game warden Gene Fernandez was recognized Thursday as the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies' (SEAFWA) officer of the year for 2017.
Fernandez has been with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for ten years and constantly strives to learn and grow as a leader in his district.
This year alone, Fernandez has filed four hunt without landowner consent cases and completed 90 youth programs reaching a total of 2,000 local kids. He also offered 20 youth hunting opportunities to 36 kids under the age of 17. Additionally, Fernandez has provided 25 game warden recruiting programs in his area.
Fernandez has also taken a leadership role within his district and uses his skills to work with other divisions. During his time in Dimmit County, he has fostered beneficial relationships with wildlife staff and biologists.
As a leader in his community, Fernandez maintains relationships with landowners in his county which helps him enforce conservation law enforcement.
Game Warden Brad Meloni Named Texas Game Warden Association's Officer of the Year
The Texas Game Warden Association has awarded Kleberg County game warden Brad Meloni as the Game Warden of the Year. Meloni has been a game warden for 21 years spending the first 12 years of the career in the Rio Grande Valley.
Warden Meloni is also a member of the Game Warden Scout Team. The team is made up of 20 or so elite officers who work high-risk operations across the state. While performing these additional volunteer duties, Meloni has been integral in the arrest of numerous dangerous criminals and removed illegal narcotics from the streets.
Meloni volunteered to go to Dallas last year and partner with officers whose coworkers were tragically gunned down during an ambush. For his efforts, Meloni received the Director's Citation.
In addition to his other duties, Meloni is a member of the Game Warden Honor Guard. As a part of this team, he has traveled with other wardens across the state to attend and present colors at the funerals of fallen wardens.
-30-