Game Warden Field Notes
AUSTIN, January 27, 2017 – The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Catch, Ticket and Release
A Val Verde County game warden responded to a call from a landowner concerning trespassers that were fishing on his private pond. The individuals had been warned several times previously that the pond was private and that fishing there was prohibited. The warden cited the individuals for fishing without consent of landowner. All fish were released back into the water.
Shooting Off the Roost
Game wardens in Trinity and Angelina counties investigated a tip about hunters roosting ducks after legal shooting hours along the Neches River, but by the time they arrived on the scene the shooting had stopped and they were unable to locate the suspects. Based on the tip, there were two groups hunting after hours; one on each side of the Neches River. Believing the suspects might attempt to repeat their actions the following evening, Trinity County game wardens set up surveillance on the Trinity County side of the Neches and an Angelina County game warden Wood set up on the Angelina County side of the river. Wardens waited and listened for shots and once the shooting began again well after legal hours wardens were able to pinpoint the suspects’ location on the Trinity County side. All three wardens converged and made contact with four individuals. Cases for hunting waterfowl after legal hours, possession of lead shot, and no hunter’s education were filed as well as civil restitution. It was determined that this was one of the groups hunting late the day before.
A Shelby County game warden received a call about duck hunters trespassing and hunting without landowner consent. Upon the warden’s arrival, the hunters quickly fled the area but left behind decoys on the water and a small vessel. Further inspection of the scene revealed empty lead shotshells, which are illegal for hunting waterfowl. The warden also found corn scattered around the area, indicating illegal baiting of waterfowl. A quick call to dispatch returned a registered owner and address for the vessel, which wasn’t far from the scene. The warden was able to quickly locate and make contact with the subjects. Charges and restitution are pending for trespassing, hunting over bait, hunting waterfowl with unplugged shotguns, and illegal use of lead shot.
Lost and Found
A Houston County game warden was contacted by the Houston County Sheriff’s Office one evening in regards to a lost hunter. The hunter had been out all day and failed to return to his hunting camp in the Davy Crockett National Forest. Since the temperature was below freezing, a Department of Public Safety helicopter was called to assist in the search. The helicopter located the subject at 2 a.m. and kept a spotlight on the subject while the game warden and another first responder walked in to make contact. The hunter had injured his ankle and was very cold, but otherwise OK. Paramedics were called to the scene to assess the hunter.
Failed to Mention
A Frio County game warden patrolling an area for illegal road hunting activity came upon a vehicle driving slowly and erratically. After observing the driver periodically position his vehicle broadside in the road and shine his headlights into ranch pastures, the warden made a traffic stop. The driver had a loaded rifle in the seat next to him and admitted to hunting from the road, but denied shooting anything. The warden issued a citation for hunting from a public roadway and cut him loose. A few hours later, the warden received a call from a ranch manager and advised that he had found a dead 10-point buck that appeared to have been shot from the same road where he had just issued a citation. The warden made contact with the road hunter and during the interview the driver admitted to shooting the buck the night before and had gone back out in hopes of shooting another buck. Charges and civil restitution pending.
Heads or Tails?
Game wardens conducting surveillance along a county road one night observed a pickup driving slowly and making several U-turns. The vehicle came to a stop on the side of the road about 100 yards from where the wardens were set up. Wardens then heard a shot fired, followed by sounds of a tailgate open and then close a few minutes later. After the vehicle pulled back onto the roadway and began speeding away from the scene, wardens initiated a traffic stop and made contact with the driver, who admitted to shooting the 8-point buck loaded in the truck bed. He claimed the passenger in the truck was his girlfriend and had not assisted him in any way. Another warden approached the girlfriend and asked if she held the antlers or legs while loading the buck? She indicated that she had held onto the antlers while they loaded the deer into the truck. The wardens educated the couple, ages 21 and 17, about the multiple violations they’d committed. Charges and civil restitution for the 8-point buck are pending for both hunters.
Following a Paper Trail
A Jack County game warden observed a deer hanging from a skinning rack at a residence and upon entering the property observed five hunters and nine additional deer on the ground nearby. A huge case of shuffling paper trails followed. Initially, it was determined that four of the deer had not been tagged. When the warden then asked to see hunting licenses which, coincidentally, all five said they had left inside the residence, the situation turned sideways. After a short while, one of the subjects exited the home with a completed tag for one of the deer and explained that he had filled it out in the field but forgot to attach it to the deer. The only problem was that the guy failed to allow the ink to dry before handing the tag to the warden. At that point the warden confronted the others inside of the home where they were scrambling to fill out tags and harvest logs. The warden collected all the paperwork and began to sort through it. During his investigation, the warden determined that of the five remaining deer, three were falsely tagged by a hunter who had lost his license and decided to use his brother’s tags instead. Two other hunters were attempting to use tags belonging to individuals that weren’t present and another hunter couldn’t explain why a buck tag was missing from her license because she had only harvested a doe earlier in the season. Her husband then confessed to harvesting an illegal buck on opening weekend and using her tag. He then admitted to harvesting a larger buck the following weekend and tagging it with his tag. The other individual not present was then contacted by phone and asked why he had left his hunting license behind. He stated that he no longer had a need for it and left it behind for the others to use. In total, 20 citations/warnings were issued in addition to numerous verbal warnings including: untagged deer, improperly tagged deer, failure to display hunting license, harvest log violation, illegal buck harvest, allowing another to hunt under a license, and hunting under the license of another. Cases are pending.
Game Cameras and Facebook; Part 1
A Comanche County game warden received a call in December from a man who said he found signs that someone was poaching on his property. The warden suggested he put up a game camera and shortly thereafter, the game warden received an email from the landowner showing a clear image captured by the game camera of a man holding a rifle. The landowner posted the image on Facebook asking for information and within an hour had the suspect’s name and address. That night the suspect called the warden and said that it was him in the picture. Case is pending for trespassing with a gun.
Game Cameras and Facebook; Part 2
A Jim Wells County game warden received a call from a landowner who had seen an image on a Facebook post of his neighbor posing with a white-tailed buck. The photo showed a blood trail from the deer to a fence and two rifles leaning against that fence. The landowner expressed concern that the neighboring hunters had killed the deer on his property. He also stated that this was an ongoing problem. While interviewing the hunters, they admitted to shooting the deer and stated that the deer had jumped the fence onto their property and taken a few steps before one of them shot it in the neck. They then stated that the buck turned around, jumped back over the fence and died immediately upon landing on the other side. Further investigation and trail camera footage showed that this was not the first time that the hunters had trespassed or harvested a deer on their neighbor’s property. Cases and restitution are pending.