Game Warden Field Notes
AUSTIN September 21, 2018 - The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
On Aug. 18, Presidio County game wardens used a rubber grey-banded king snake decoy to sack a couple of subjects violating reptile and amphibian hunting regulations. After dark, the wardens deployed the fake snake along a stretch of river road in the southeastern part of the county popular among reptile collectors. Several vehicles had driven by the decoy without reaction before one took the bait just before 11 p.m. The driver drove by the snake, hit the brakes and then reversed quickly while the passenger shined a flashlight out of the window. The wardens watched from bushes nearby as the driver jumped from the vehicle with a flashlight while the passenger attempted to capture the snake. The passenger realized the snake was a fake, and let his partner know, but was told to pick it up anyway. As the passenger picked up the decoy, the wardens came out of the brush and announced themselves. The snake hunters had a hunting license with a reptile and amphibian endorsement but were told they had violated several laws including: hunting with artificial light from a motor vehicle, hunting from a public roadway, no reflective safety vest, and stopping on a public roadway. Appropriate charges were filed and are pending.
One Thing Leads to Another
Game wardens have long memories and hoodlums tend to have a habit of repeating bad choices. While assisting the Sabine County Sheriff’s Office in a search for allegedly stolen sound equipment at the residence of an individual who had purportedly killed an alligator illegally a year earlier, a Sabine County game warden discovered pieces of an alligator hide. When questioned about the hide, the subject claimed he and a friend had found a dead gator floating in Toledo Bend Reservoir and kept some of the hide. The man was informed it is illegal to possess any alligator parts without proper documentation and a hide tag. After located more pieces of hide, the warden also looked inside a cooler and found a live baby alligator. The individual received several citations. The investigation is still ongoing.
Poor Night Vision
On Aug. 25, shortly after midnight, a Hidalgo County game warden came upon two men standing on a county road about 100 feet in front of their pickup truck. Their rifles were affixed to tripods and outfitted with night vision scopes; one with a suppressor attached. When confronted about hunting on a public roadway being illegal, one of the men explained that they were simply scanning for feral pigs and would have actually entered onto private property they had permission to hunt and then taken a shot if the opportunity had presented itself. He provided the game warden with the contact information of the person who granted permission. The following morning, the warden contacted the consenting party only to learn that the two men were not even near the correct property. Both men were issued citations for hunting from a public roadway, and educated about two more serious potential violations of hunting without landowner consent and criminal trespass with a firearm.
How Not to Hunt Doves
Each September at the start of dove hunting season, game wardens come across the same illegal practices and some cases that leave them shaking their heads. Here’s a few opening weekend follies:
Safe and Sound
On Sept. 2, game wardens were alerted that two 15-year-old females had gone missing after last seen on a jet ski on the bay at dusk. A length search involving several game wardens, U.S. Coast Guard, Lower Colorado River Authority and the Matagorda County Sheriff’s Department ended up locating the girls. A Coast Guard helicopter was able to pick them up off of the Jet Ski and drop them off with game wardens who reunited the girls back safely with their family.
On the evening of Sept. 3, an Upshur County game warden received a call from dispatch concerning a stranded individual on an island on Lake O’ the Pines. The individual had gone out earlier in the day, but had lost his way in the darkness. Wardens responded and could see a dim light across the lake upon arrival, but due to the shallow depth of the water in some places, a boat could not be used to reach the area where the light originated. The wardens commandeered a nearby canoe to retrieve the individual and bring him back to shore in the stump-filled, choppy waters. The individual was dehydrated and drained mentally and physically, but relieved and very appreciative.