January’s Most Interesting Texas Game Warden Stories
Every month, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department sends out a rundown of some of the more interesting, and sometimes bizarre stories from game wardens across the state. Here's the latest from January.
Keep the Beard
A Sutton County game warden was checking a deer camp during the special white-tailed deer late season when he discovered a Rio Grande turkey beard in the same cooler as an axis deer that had been killed. When asked the whereabouts of the rest of the turkey, one hunter said that it had been hit by a car on the county road and all they took was the beard. After asking if they could show the warden where the turkey was hit, the other hunter in camp said it was in the back pasture. The story quickly fell apart from there and one hunter finally admitted to shooting the turkey the previous day and taking only the beard when he realized the season had closed two weeks prior. The hunter showed the warden where he had shot and dumped the turkey carcass. Cases and civil restitution are pending.
Jet Ski to the Rescue
A Denton County game warden was notified by the Denton County Sheriff’s Office of a capsized kayaker on Lake Lewisville. The kayaker was about 300 yards offshore being pushed further away by wind and current. The Lewisville Fire Department and Little Elm Public Safety boats were called in to rescue the boater but the warden took immediate action and was able to use a Jet Ski to reach the victim. The victim was transported to Denton Regional Hospital for treatment of hypothermia.
Improvised Exit Strategy
Lamar County game wardens responded to a vehicle accident where a truck jumped the guardrail on Hwy. 271 and plummeted more than 50 feet into the Red River. The wardens were able to execute a successful water rescue by tying a rope to the vehicle door and pulling it open with their boat, freeing the motorist. Paris Fire Department and two citizens aided in the rescue. The victim was air lifted to Dallas with lower leg and back injuries plus hypothermia.
OGT Tip Leads to Gator Snatcher
A Harris County game warden received an Operation Game Thief tip regarding a man catching and keeping a five foot alligator off the Surfside Jetty in Freeport. After tracking down the suspected gator snatcher and conducting several interviews, the warden recovered the carcass of a five foot alligator from a dumpster as well as a full confession from the fisherman. Charges have been filed and are pending in Brazoria County.
Swooping in for the Bust
An Operation Game Thief call in Harris County alerted game wardens of an individual selling a falcon on Craigslist. After several phone conversations, a warden arranged a meeting and purchased the Cooper’s hawk for $200 as another game warden swooped in for the bust. Charges have been filed for the illegal possession and sale of the hawk and a separate investigation of the suspect’s quail raising operation is still underway.
View from the Kitchen Window
Comal County game wardens got an Operation Game Thief call about an individual shooting white-tailed deer near Canyon Lake from a kitchen window at night. During questioning, game wardens started to find discrepancies with the individual’s story. When asked how an artificial light affixed to a deer feeder near their home had gotten broken, the subject’s wife said that a deer "bowed up" and broke the light; indicating an instinctive defensive reaction by the animal to having been shot. In addition, before their visit the wardens conducted a quick scan of the subject’s Facebook page and found an image posted of a 9-point buck. However, during a check of the subject’s hunting license, the wardens noted the date of the Facebook post did not match up with what was noted on his harvest log. The suspects eventually confessed to killing the deer with a .22 caliber rifle, through a cut in the kitchen window screen, underneath a feeder with an artificial light. They had also killed a doe under the feeder. The antlers from the 9-point buck were seized, as well as the meat from the buck and doe. Cases and restitution are pending.
Caught on a Snag
A Williamson County game warden patrolling the Granger Spillway was informed by a fisherman in the parking lot that a subject was snagging catfish. The warden eased up on the fisherman and while observing from a distance watched him snag a channel catfish and put it on a stringer. The warden made contact with the individual, who confessed to snagging three channel catfish, but stated he didn't know it was illegal. The warden educated the man on legal fishing means and methods after an inspection revealed hook marks in the bodies of the fish. Snagging charges and civil restitution were filed for each fish. The fish were donated to a needy family.
Over-Bagged, Untagged and Snagged
Wardens in Travis and Bastrop counties concluded an investigation pertaining to numerous alleged white-tailed deer violations. During the course of the investigation the wardens discovered that four individuals had harvested more than 10 deer from both counties in violation of antler restrictions. Three of the four individuals had previous hunting violations and all cooperated with the investigation. With more than 30 violations uncovered, wardens issued 12 citations and five warnings for hunting antlerless white-tailed deer without a permit, not tagging/improperly tagging white-tailed deer, harvest log violations, taking buck white-tailed deer having an antler spread less than the required 13 inches, exceeding the bag limit for buck white-tailed deer greater than 13 inches, and possession of white-tailed deer without proof of sex. In addition, eight deer were seized and civil restitution assessed. The already processed meat was donated. Cases are pending.
A Cameron County game warden was called to the scene of an accident where a vehicle had struck a white-tailed deer and the deer needed to be dispatched. By the time the warden arrived on the scene, the deer was gone and the person who struck the deer advised that someone in a white truck who lived down the street had taken the animal. The warden made contact with the person who had taken the deer from the scene and was informed that the meat and the antlers were at a house in a neighboring town. The warden found two deer legs and a set of 8-point antlers at that location and another leg was seized from the man who had taken the deer. That individual was issued a citation for illegal take and possession of white-tailed deer.
Game wardens were made aware of a ranch in Jim Wells County that had been baited heavily for dove. After entering the ranch and inspecting the hunters for violations, it was obvious that they were hunting in areas that had been baited with a milo/corn mixture. In total, 101 dove were seized and 16 citations were issued. Cases and restitution are pending.
You Got Hosed
A Tyler County game warden received some information that an individual had posted images of a white-tailed buck on Snapchat. The warden knew where the subject lived and upon arrival did not observe anyone at the house and received no answer at the door. However, he noticed a long water hose stretched across the yard that was still running. The warden followed the running water hose to the back of several tool sheds where he caught glimpses of two individuals attempting to run and hide. He instructed both to stop and after a brief conversation with the subjects -- including questions about the blood on their clothing -- they led the warden to the buck hidden in a nearby brush pile. One of the subjects admitted to taking the deer with a .22 rifle in a closed season in his yard. Charges were filed and the case is pending.