Game Warden Field Notes
The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
You Missed a Spot
Two San Augustine County game wardens apprehended two men for road hunting with a spotlight near Sam Rayburn Lake. When the wardens inspected the men’s truck, they saw the truck bed had been power washed clean, but the men missed a tiny spot of blood and hair. When the wardens pointed out this evidence, the men confessed they’d killed a deer a few days earlier. Both men face charges of hunting from a public road, possession of deer in closed season and unlawful carry of a handgun.
Won’t See You Later, Alligator
After a Shelby County game warden received a call about a five-foot alligator that had been shot on the Attoyac River, he contacted a gas company located near the river, hoping someone who worked there had seen something. An employee said he saw some people by the river a few days earlier and gave a description of the people and their vehicle, which the warden found a few days later at a local hunting lease. After running a vehicle check, the warden found the owner on Facebook, and the gas company employee positively identified him as one of the people he had seen near the river. The warden went to the suspect’s house, and the suspect confessed his friend shot the alligator with a .20-gauge shotgun. After calling his friend to come over and verify what happened, the cooperative shooter arrived at the house a little while later. The warden filed multiple cases, and civil restitution is pending.
A Shelby County game warden was on patrol when he heard a 911 call over dispatch about an assault with shots fired at a local marina campground. The caller said the shooter was threatening to kill her and would “shoot when he saw police cars” and was “going to die tonight.” The warden, two deputies and a constable responded to the scene, though they didn’t know the shooter’s exact location. Using night vision goggles, the warden and other officers searched and cleared the campground. When they saw the silhouette of a man walking quickly through the shadows, they told him to stop and took him into custody. The warden found a loaded.357 handgun nearby. The man was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
A Matagorda County game warden received information from a citizen about an individual who had illegally obtained and kept an alligator. Because the individual posted pictures of the alligator on social media, the wardens found him quite easily. The individual admitted to taking the alligator from a public roadway.
Port O’Connor Drowning
Two Matagorda County game wardens responded to a reported double drowning near the Port O’Connor Jetties. Three men were fishing just off the beach when their boat tipped over because of the choppy water. They fell out of the boat, and, unable to get back into the boat or hold on to it, two of the fishermen drowned in the rough waters. The third man called for help. A short time later, a group of fishermen on the beach spotted both bodies in the surf and pulled them to shore. A US Coast Guard helicopter that had responded to assist with the search lowered a rescue swimmer down to the beach. The swimmer and fishermen loaded both bodies into the game wardens’ patrol boat. The wardens then took the victims across Matagorda Bay to Palacios, where the Justice of the Peace met them at the dock. The bodies were turned over to a local funeral home, and the Sheriff’s deputies assisted the wardens with locating and notifying the next of kin for the two men from Victoria.
“Biting So Good”
As two Jefferson County game wardens patrolled Port Arthur, they came across two men fishing from the bank around 1 a.m. The individuals were fishing under lights and catching speckled trout. They said they trout were “biting so good” they couldn’t help themselves. The wardens found the men in possession of 18 undersized trout. Cases are pending against them.
Two Shot, Two Wounded
Two game wardens responded to a double homicide in which two victims were shot in a vehicle. They determined that at least one suspect had fled the scene, though they located him a short time later. The wardens then requested a K9 warden team to assist in evidence recovery. After reviewing the scene and all available evidence, the wardens determined four individuals, including the two who were shot, were involved. The other two were wounded and, after they were taken into custody, they were taken to the local hospital. The Starr County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers will handle further investigation.
The Feathers Gave Them Away
Two Bexar County game wardens received an Operation Game Thief call about illegal dove hunting on private property. When the wardens arrived at the property to talk to the suspect, they observed spent shotgun shells and dove feathers on the ground. The suspect admitted to shooting doves, one of which was a banded whitewing dove. After showing the wardens where he was keeping the doves, the wardens gave him a citation for hunting doves in closed season.
Well I Guess the Party’s Over
A Starr County game warden and a Zapata County warden got a call about a stranded boater on Falcon Lake. When the wardens arrived at Falcon Lake, they located the vessel and provided instructions to the boat operator and his passengers on how to get the boat running and guide it back to the boat ramp. Once back at the boat ramp, the wardens conducted a water safety inspection and consensual search, which revealed several empty beer cans and drug paraphernalia. The wardens issued multiple citations and notified the young passengers’ parents.
Just Leave Him Alone
A man contacted Comal County game wardens about a small alligator he had photographed in the Guadalupe River near Nichols Landing, a popular swimming area north of Canyon Lake. The man sent his pictures to the wardens but also posted them on social media. After seeing the pictures on social media, several media outlets called the game wardens about the alligator. The wardens said the alligator was in its natural habitat and should not pose any threat to the general public, though they are prepared to take the necessary steps if the alligator needs to be relocated.
I Think I’ll Just Leave My Car in the Water
A game warden assisted officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety in responding to a vehicle accident in which a woman drove into the water from a low water crossing bridge. The person who called in the accident said the woman had gotten out of the car after she drove it off the bridge and left the scene, walking south. As the warden headed to the woman’s last known location, he saw a woman fitting the witnesses’ description, walking along the road and carrying several items. The warden pulled up behind her and saw she was staggering and having a difficult time maintaining her balance. As his headlights lit up the area in front of the woman, she never turned around to see who had pulled up behind her. As the warden parked his vehicle and got out, he asked the woman to stop, and she slowly turned around. The warden asked where she was going, to which the woman replied she was going to her boss’s house. The warden then asked her to step to the side of the road and questioned her about where she came from. The woman said she had just gotten out of the hospital and was driving to the store to get a pack of cigarettes. The warden asked if she had taken any medications, and she said she had but not since leaving the hospital four hours earlier. As the warden spoke with the woman, he observed signs of intoxication. Her speech was slow, mumbled and at times incoherent. She seemed unaware of her surroundings and unable to balance on level ground. The warden turned the woman over to a DPS trooper who arrived on the scene. The woman was arrested for driving while intoxicated.
No Way Back
A Bowie County game warden responded to a call about a male and a female who had been dropped off at a remote campground two days earlier. When he arrived at the campground, the warden noticed neither person had food or water, and neither would say who dropped them off or when they were going to be picked up. The warden, after checking for active warrants for both people, arrested the male on an active warrant. The warden offered to give the female a ride to town while he transported her boyfriend to jail. As she gathered up her things, the warden asked to search her possessions for anything that might compromise officer safety during transport. She gave her consent, and the warden found a glass methamphetamine pipe with a burned substance in it. The female said she had forgotten the pipe was in her bag. Both the male and female said there was nothing else for the wardens to find because they had smoked it all. The warden, not finding any other drugs, arrested them both and transported them to the county jail.
Gone and Clearly Forgotten
A Cooke County game warden was checking hunters in a public hunting area when a hunter asked her about a vehicle he had seen in a nearby creek. The warden went to investigate and found a 2015 Ford truck stuck in a creek. It looked like it had been abandoned for a while and had the stereo missing. A computer check showed the vehicle was reported stolen out of another county. The warden notified the sheriff’s office in that county, and they recovered the vehicle. Since the truck seemed to have only been in the creek for about two weeks, further investigation might be conducted to find the suspect.
“Too Good for the Wardens to Catch”
A Henderson County game warden received an Operation Game Thief call about a person who had shot a deer at night and tossed it into the woods near his own residence. The warden contacted the individual who shot the deer, though he said he didn’t shoot any deer. His friends were just mad at him and making false claims, he said. The warden searched the area but was not able to find a deer or any evidence of hunting activity. However, the next day, the warden got another call from another person who overheard the suspect say he was “too good for the wardens to catch.” The warden requested the help of another warden and his K9, who quickly found a fresh deer carcass near the suspect’s house. Once the deer was brought back up to the patrol units, the suspect admitted to killing the deer a few days earlier. He lied because he was afraid he was going to get in trouble, he said.
Hunting Next to Bait
A Gregg County game warden and a Smith County warden contacted a group of individuals hunting dove along a barbed wire fence where hen scratch was placed for bait. Upon contact, the upset landowner argued that he intentionally fenced off the baited field from the rest of his property. When the game wardens informed him of his violations, he said he should not be cited for hunting over bait, but rather next to bait because his group stayed outside the barbed wire fence. The wardens seized multiple birds and the individuals were charged with hunting migratory birds over (next to) bait.
Thanks for the Courtesy Call
A Gregg County game warden received a “courtesy call” from a landowner who said he and his group would be dove hunting a particular field later that evening. If the wardens received calls or complaints from neighbors about hearing gunshots, they shouldn’t worry, the landowner said. However, a few days earlier, the warden had discovered fresh sunflower seeds on the same field the landowner said he would be hunting. The warden contacted the group and charged them with hunting migratory birds over bait and no hunter education and seized 47 doves.
You Look a Little Nervous
While in line to buy a beverage at a local convenience store, an Atascosa County game warden noticed the woman in line next to him bought a pipe commonly used for smoking methamphetamines. As the warden walked out of the store, he saw the woman get into her car, which he noticed had an expired registration. The warden performed a traffic stop a few blocks from the store and discovered that her driver’s license was suspended, so he arrested her for driving while license is suspended. The woman did not admit to having methamphetamines in the car or on her person. However, a female jailer found a bag of meth on the woman after searching her.
Toward the Smoke
When three game wardens saw faint smoke rising on the horizon in Borden County, they called a nearby landowner to warn him about what they were seeing. The landowner informed the wardens he hadn’t scheduled any burns that day, so the wardens drove toward the smoke. Upon arrival, they discovered a wildfire had started, and the winds were rapidly spreading the fire across a nearby ranch, burning closer and closer to oil well pumps and power lines. The wardens called county emergency officials, who were able to control the burn.