|Game Warden Field Notes
AUSTIN, August 21, 2017 - The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Pocketing the Evidence
A Sabine County game warden was staking out an area known for illegal night hunting activity late one night when he got a call from a county sheriff’s deputy about a possible road hunter he was detaining following a traffic stop. The deputy advised he observed a rifle and a spotlight inside the vehicle, but the driver denied being involved in any night hunting activity. The warden proceeded to the deputy’s location a short distance away and upon questioning the driver, obtained a full confession of spotlighting for hogs from a public road. Once the warden found evidence of the illegal activities – an empty rifle cartridge casing in the subject’s pocket — he was able to make cases for hunting from a public road, hunting in closed season and discharging a firearm from a public road. The cases are pending.
The Jail is This Way
In the early morning hours of July 16, a game warden was waiting at a red light in Fort Stockton when a vehicle in the cross traffic came to a stop in front of his patrol unit. As the subject got out of his vehicle and began to approach, the warden ordered him to return to his car and get out of the roadway. The subject ignored the instructions and indicated he “just wanted directions.” The warden noticed multiple signs of possible intoxication, administered field sobriety tests, which the individual failed, and subsequently made an arrest. Additional tests at the Pecos County Jail indicated the subject had a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit and was charged with DWI.
Caught and Released
A game warden on patrol in Bexar County at Calaveras Lake was driving by the fish cleaning station on the lake and stopped to talk to a man cleaning a large red drum. The warden introduced himself and asked the angler what he had caught the large fish on, and he replied shrimp. After talking for a few minutes the warden asked for the man’s fishing license. He said he didn’t have it on him, so the warden then asked for his driver’s license so he could look it up that way. After using the app on his phone and calling dispatch, the warden confirmed that the man’s fishing license had expired and, therefore, he had caught the fish without a legal fishing license. The man received a citation for fishing without a valid fishing license and his fish was seized since it was caught illegally. The warden donated the 34-inch drum to a licensed fisherman at Calaveras. Citations and civil restitution are pending.
Signed, Sealed and Delivered
A Van Zandt County game warden and a Smith County game warden wrapped up an investigation dating back to last hunting season regarding a group of trespassers and illegally taken deer. Acting on a tip, the game wardens made cases against five individuals who were caught trespassing and running hog dogs on a piece of property outside of Fruitvale in Van Zandt County. The primary suspect in the case gave a false name to the rancher and had put his own lock on the gate in order to gain illegal access to the property. After an extensive investigation, the wardens revealed that the primary suspect also had a feeder and hunting equipment on the adjacent property. The suspect had also illegally harvested multiple deer and was caught multiple times on camera trespassing with firearms. Multiple cases were filed for trespassing, untagged white-tailed deer, illegal means and methods, and other charges. The cases are pending.
Don’t Mess With Texas
A Hunt County game warden was patrolling Cedar Creek by kayak when he discovered four large trash bags of household garbage floating in the creek. He took on the unpleasant task of tearing into the bags in an attempt to collect any evidence as to who threw the garbage over a nearby bridge. With evidence in hand, the warden paid a visit to a home less than a mile away and was able to get a full confession from an 18 year old living there.
Wheeling and Dealing on the Lake
As game wardens patrolling Lake Tawakoni and conducting water safety inspections approached a boat, they observed a female onboard hide something in her swim suit top. Upon questioning, she revealed a small pipe from her swim suit. Further questioning from the wardens produced a small container that was wedged between the seat and the side of the boat. The container contained three marijuana buds. At this point, the wardens boarded the suspect boat and conducted a search. They located three bundles of cash in a compartment near the steering wheel totaling $5,453, and a soft sided cooler containing a large amount of marijuana. The owner and operator of the boat was arrested. The female passenger was issued a citation and released. Cases are pending.
A Freestone County game warden received an Operation Game Thief crime-stopper tip in July regarding a deer that was shot at night. He responded to the location and found one dead doe in the bed of a pick-up truck. Additionally, another quartered deer was found in a cooler under the suspect’s porch. After interviewing the suspect, along with others, and consulting with the district attorney, three Class A misdemeanor warrants and a third degree felony warrant were obtained and executed. Charges include hunting deer at night, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and waste of game. Civil restitution is pending.
They Call Him the Wanderer
Game wardens in Harris County received a call about an elderly man stuck in the middle of Addicks Reservoir with night approaching. The man was located after an extensive search; he had no water and was having dizzy spells when he attempted to walk. The game wardens safely extracted him. The next morning game wardens received another call about the same individual, but now he was now lost in Barker Reservoir. The 72-year-old, who has a medical history, had spent about four hours walking around Barker Reservoir searching for his lost ATV. The game wardens were able to locate the individual again after following his tracks and hearing pistol shots. The game wardens had to cut their way through the brush to getthe individual much-needed medical attention. The individual was later released by EMS, after which he received a heartfelt, but stern talking to from the game wardens about wandering off.
Falling Tide and Failing Kayakers
As they entered the jetties at Matagorda, game wardens on their way back in from patrolling the Gulf of Mexico noticed an overturned kayak floating in the middle of the river channel being pulled out by the tide. Once closer, the wardens could see a woman struggling to hang on to the kayak, desperately trying to swim back to shore. Luckily, the kayaker was wearing a life jacket and the wardens assisted her back to the bank and later went back to recover the swamped kayak. About 20 minutes later the same circumstance took place, but this time with a tandem kayak with a man and woman who were also struggling to hang on to their overturned kayak, but were wearing their life jackets. Wardens assisted the two kayakers back to the river bank and brought their kayak back to them afterwards.
Not All Snapper are the Same
Game wardens boarded a sportfishing boat near Matagorda where they found three fisherman in possession of 17 undersized juvenile red snapper. The subjects commented that they had a great day and caught tons of “mingo” snapper (mangrove) offshore. Game wardens educated the three men that the snapper in their cooler were in fact juvenile red snapper and not “mingo” snapper. Wardes clarified the differences of the several snapper species found in the Gulf of Mexico to the three men, showing them photos of lane, vermillion, and mangrove snapper. Cases for possession of undersized and over the daily bag limit of red snapper are pending.
Saved by Cell Phone
Live Oak County game wardens responded to a call about two stranded kayakers on Choke Canyon Lake. The call stated they had launched from the Calliham boat ramp just before dusk. Wardens put in at the boat ramp and began their search, but while they were searching, the stranded kayakers called in stating they had actually launched from the South Shore boat ramp but had drifted a long way. They also stated their kayaks had sunk and they were currently in life jackets drifting in the lake. Wardens navigated to the South Shore boat ramp and, using night vision, continued their search in the direction the high winds would have likely blown the kayakers. About 800 yards from the boat ramp, one of the wardens noticed a faint glow in his night vision. Remembering the kayakers had an active cell phone with them, wardens maneuvered toward the glow and discovered the two kayakers. One of the kayakers was cramping, in extreme pain, and having a difficult time keeping himself upright and over the waves. The wardens pulled the kayakers onto the boat and safely delivered them to the ramp where EMS treated them for mild hypothermia and dehydration.
No Blue Light Special
In the early hours of the morning, a San Patricio County game warden worked his way quietly into Corpus Christi Bay and was able to catch three early night bait shrimpers. One of the captains said it wasn’t fair because “there was no blue light to show you were there.”
Stranded Inshore “Paddlists” Call for Help
Aransas County game wardens responded to a call from the Aransas County Sheriff’s Office concerning a stranded person in a kayak on Copano Bay. The individual was located drifting toward an unoccupied side of the bay, having lost one of his paddles and broken the other. The ill-equipped paddler also did not have an adequate anchor for his inflatable kayak, but at least he had his cell phone, which enabled him to call for help. A couple days later, game wardens responded to a similar kayaker in distress call on St. Charles Bay. One individual returned to the launch location, but a second paddler could not make it back. The exhausted kayaker was located and returned to his truck approximately four miles away. Although he didn’t have the strength to paddle into the winds, at least his cell phone worked.