|Game Warden Field Notes
AUSTIN, February 18, 2018 - The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
It’s a Setup
A game warden took two local 10-year-old boys on a youth deer hunt in Scurry County. While the warden sat in the box blind with the young hunters, one of the boys asked what would happen if a poacher came here right now? The warden said he would arrest him, of course. Less than 30 minutes later, they were watching a spike buck from about 300 yards away when a pickup truck on an adjacent county road rolled up, a passenger got out and shot the deer. The driver and passenger both exited their truck and ran into the field where the boys were hunting, grabbed the deer, and began dragging it back to their vehicle. The warden watched in disbelief. True to his word, the warden called the father of one of the boys, who was already nearby, and asked him to come watch the boys so he could chase down the suspects. The warden raced to his patrol truck and initiated a short pursuit. Both individuals were apprehended, placed under arrest and transported to the Scurry County Jail. Charges of taking wildlife resources without landowner consent and civil restitution for the white-tailed deer are pending. The boys got to experience firsthand life as a game warden.
A Red River County game warden took on the odiferous challenge of trying to find out who was illegally dumping deer carcasses in his area. Acting on a reporting of four yearling deer carcasses and a hog that had been dumped along a county road, the warden collected evidence, including two beer cans and a feed tub with white feathers inside. A week later a similar call along the same road revealed yet another dumped deer. The warden went to the nearest house and spoke with the homeowners, who admitted their son legally killed a doe and it fell off the ATV on his way to dump it on another property. During the interview, the warden observed several deer hides in the yard. The homeowners stated their dogs had dragged the hides into the yard. After collecting the hides, which were consistent in size with the dumped yearling carcasses, the warden made a visit to a neighbor who denied any knowledge of the incident. The warden noticed feed tubs at their house, a pile of beer cans, and white chickens consistent with the evidence he found at the dump site. He retrieved the beer cans he recovered from the dump site and compared them to ones located at the house. He was able to match a specific lot number on the bottom of the can and an expiration date, meaning the two beer cans from the dump site were connected to this house. When confronted with this, the suspects admitted to illegally dumping the deer. The cases are pending.
Game wardens oftentimes find themselves settling hunting related disputes between neighboring landowners. Recently, a Cherokee County game warden got a call from a landowner concerning profane messages that were left along his property line allegedly blaming him for messing up his neighbor’s hunting activities. In an effort to de-escalate the situation, the warden made a visit to the neighbor and learned the cursing complainant was the boyfriend of the homeowner’s niece, who had access to the property for hunting, and had shot a deer or two during the season. While the homeowner attempted to contact the subject, the warden decided to look around the property. He discovered two illegal buck heads under a shed, neither of which met the county’s antler restriction, and also found a spoiled deer carcass in a nearby cooler. Eventually, the subject arrived at the residence and after some questioning by the warden, admitted to shooting the two bucks from behind the house, on the property line. The second buck was shot during the late muzzleloader-only season with a high-powered rifle. Multiple cases are pending for no hunting license, exceeding the bag limit on buck deer, antler restriction violations, waste of game, hunting in closed season, hunting by illegal means and methods, untagged deer and harvest log violations.
Lay Off the Horn
Under the Sportsman’s Rights Act, a person may not intentionally interfere with another person lawfully engaged in hunting, or intentionally harass, drive, or disturb any wildlife for the purpose of disrupting lawful hunting. Violation is a Class B misdemeanor. Game wardens recently responded to a possible hunter harassment call near the Harris and Waller County line. Contact was made with the hunters who showed video of a subject on an adjacent property setting off his vehicle alarm every time ducks would fly in, chasing the birds away. When interviewing the suspect, the warden asked why he was honking his horn and the suspect stated, while getting agitated, because he wanted to ruin their hunt. The case is pending.
A Costly Lesson Learned
Maverick County game wardens made contact with a ranch hand during a camp check and were informed there were five hunters still in the field. While waiting for the hunters to return to camp, the wardens discovered several plastic bags in a cooler containing 43 duck breasts and 10 dove breasts missing the required wing or head attached for bird identification purposes. The wardens made contact with the hunters and found them in possession of five dove and two ducks, along with a mix of lead and steel shotshells in their hunting bags and shotguns. The wardens examined the dove and found their crops to be full of corn. The hunters were asked by the wardens where they had harvested the dove and were told they had shot the birds under a deer feeder. The wardens advised the hunters of the issues they had with the game they had harvested. The hunters told the wardens they had hunted their entire lives and had no idea they couldn’t hunt dove at a deer feeder, and also stated they didn’t know they had to keep a wing or a head on a duck for identification purposes. Citations were issued to all five hunters. Forty three ducks and 15 dove were seized. The civil restitution and cases are pending.
Hey, you’re Blocking My Driveway
A game warden was heading home at the end of his shift when he observed a suspicious vehicle ahead of him stop in the roadway and obstruct the entrance to his driveway. The warden got out and made contact with the driver of the vehicle to investigate. The driver exhibited signs of intoxication and there was a strong odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle as well as open alcohol containers in plain view. The driver refused to submit to field sobriety testing and was placed under arrest. The subject was booked into the Dawson County Jail on a driving while intoxicated (3rd or more) charge, a third degree felony. The case is pending.
Dumpster Diving for Clues
A Lubbock area game warden received a tip from a message left on the Game Warden Facebook page concerning the dumping of geese in a Lubbock community dumpster. Upon investigation, the warden found four geese that had not been breasted out and had been dumped along with lots of other bags of trash. In the trash was a “to-go” bag from a local restaurant with a phone number on the receipt. It was a shot in the dark, but the warden called the phone number, which led to interviews with three different people before he was finally able to identify a possible suspect that lived on the street where the dumped birds were located. The warden tracked down the suspect and, after a brief interview, he admitted to dumping the birds. Ironically, the warden had checked the suspect with those same harvested geese while in the field three days prior. Charges for waste of game and civil restitution were filed and pending.
Water Weed Removal
A game warden and state park police officer were at the boat ramp in Falcon State Park after patrolling the lake for water safety violations when a young boy approached and stated he and his dad were fishing when they observed several suspicious-looking bundles floating in the water. He showed the officers a photo of one of the bundles and stated they had marked the location on their GPS in the boat. The two officers drove to the location by boat, where they recovered 17 large bundles of marijuana floating in the water. The marijuana weighed 705 pounds and valued at $564,208. It was later discovered that U.S. Border Patrol agents had an incident with marijuana smuggling the previous night in that same area, and it is believed that these bundles were related to that incident. While on patrol the following day, the two officers recovered two more bundles in the same area. That haul weighed over 82 pounds and valued at $66,080.