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Game Warden Field Notes

The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.

Don’t Believe Everything on the Internet

On opening weekend of the early September teal season, a game warden received a call about duck hunters possibly taking big ducks. The warden made his way to the public hunting area where the acts were reported to have taken place and observed a vehicle parked in the designated parking area. After a short while, two hunters came up, and the warden made contact. After checking licenses, permits, and shotguns for compliance, the warden asked the hunters if they had taken any teal. Each subject admitted they had. Upon inspection of their “teal,” the warden advised the hunters had actually taken cormorants, a federally-protected species. The hunters stated they had no idea. They had researched it on the Internet and assumed it was a cinnamon teal. Also, one of the hunters did not have hunter education. Cases are pending.

Tracked to the ‘facts

In early September, a Comal County game warden received a game camera image of two people trespassing on property near Canyon Lake. The warden proceeded to the location and observed signs of footprints and fresh digging at the site, which was known for having Native American artifacts. The warden followed tracks from the property across a creek bed and through several other properties to a residence where the footprints ended next to some tire tracks. On the property were pieces of flint that had recently been washed with a water hose. A suspect from this property address was contacted and confessed to being on the complainant’s property with a friend. When asked about the “No Trespassing” signs he replied they had done nothing wrong as they were only looking around and had picked up a few rocks. Charges are pending.

Why it’s Called Road Hunting, Duh!

On opening weekend of dove season, a Presidio County game warden was patrolling for hunting activity on Highway 170 when he observed a suspicious vehicle parked on the side of the road. As he got closer to the vehicle, he noticed two hunters tucked along the fence-line facing toward the highway. The warden informed the hunters that they were hunting the roadway, to which one of the hunters stated that he owned land in the area and stated a game warden said it was alright to hunt at least 30 feet away from the road. The same hunter went on to tell the warden it has been 21 years since he has seen a game warden. Citations were issued to the hunters for hunting on the public roadway. The case is pending.

Based on the Evidence

Williamson County game wardens were checking dove hunters on the east side of I-35 in Georgetown opening weekend when they came upon three men; one put his shotgun on the ground when he saw the wardens approaching, and pretended to be an observer. The wardens checked for compliance with hunting regulations, and while two of the three handed over their hunting licenses, the third hunter stated he wasn’t hunting. The warden asked why they had three shotguns? One hunter claimed to be using both to hunt. Wardens separated the parties and began interviewing the hunters. The one hunter claiming not to hunt was asked to show his hands. His hands contained blood from the doves that were harvested, and the warden told the man he was also going to check his hands for gunpowder residue. The hunter immediately confessed to hunting with a 20-gauge he borrowed from his friend. After a record check, the wardens discovered he was a convicted felon, explaining why he denied hunting. Wardens arrested the hunter for unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and issued citations.

See Something, Say Something

On Sept. 1, an Aransas County game warden received an Operation Game Thief crime stopper hotline tip from a 12-year-old boy stating a lady fishing nearby was keeping undersized redfish. He said that he could tell it was not a hard head and it was too small to keep if it was a red. When the avid fisherman went to see what the lady caught, he told her the redfish was too small. She stated she was keeping the fish anyway and put it on her stringer. The boy was very upset and asked his mother for her phone so that he could call the game warden. Upon arrival, the boy flagged down the warden and pointed toward the lady fishing. The warden made contact with the lady, who was in possession of an 11-inch red drum. Citations and restitution are pending. The resource was donated to the complainant.

Sweetened Field Leaves Sour Taste

Tarrant County game wardens were patrolling for early morning dove hunters in the western part of the county opening weekend when they heard shots fired and located a group of hunters on an oil pad site. As the wardens approached, the hunters exclaimed excitedly they were waiting on one individual to shoot his last dove. Everyone else had limited out earlier. The hunter was able to harvest his last dove within minutes of the wardens arriving. Slightly surprised the hunters had limited out so early, the wardens began checking hunting licenses and counting dove. Upon further inspection, the wardens noticed wheat seed had been strewn all over the oil field pad, and two individuals did not have current hunting licenses. They pulled the landowner aside and asked why the area was baited, and if the hunters were aware of it. The landowner claimed his brother had most likely baited the area and the hunters were unaware of it. The wardens discovered the brother, who was also a landowner, was in a different field with more individuals dove hunting. That field was baited with wheat seed as well. The landowners and every hunter were interviewed separately, and the wardens concluded the landowners had placed the bait and the hunters were unaware they were hunting over bait. They also learned over 30 hunters had hunted the baited areas on opening day harvesting over 400 birds. After further investigation of the fields, and much discussion, the wardens decided to write warnings for hunting over bait to the hunters. Citations were issued to the landowners for placing bait to attract dove. All the dove from both days, which totaled over 500, were seized and donated. The cases and civil restitution are pending.

Know Your Snakes

In Texas, the timber rattler is listed as a threatened species. This means people cannot kill, transport, have in their possession or sell timber rattlesnakes. On Sept. 1, game wardens were alerted about a man killing timber rattlers and posting them on Facebook. They were able to track down the individual, who admitted to killing the rattlesnake. Citations were issued.

No Excuses

On Sept. 10, a Camp County game warden received a call about a dead deer found at a residence near Lake Bob Sandlin in a gated housing community. The doe was found to have a small hole behind its shoulder that appeared as though it could have been made with a .22 caliber. After speaking with the caller and questioning other residents of the community, the warden learned there had been some gunshots from a house about a half mile from where the deer was found. The warden went to that residence and made contact with a 62-year-old man who appeared to be intoxicated. The subject admitted to shooting two does from his porch with his crossbow using field points and stated he didn’t know why he’d shot them. The shots heard were made by the subject’s wife dispatching the second doe laying in a deep ditch 100 yards from the residence. Cases including the taking of white-tailed deer during closed season, no hunting license, use of illegal archery equipment, and civil restitution are pending. The second doe was donated to a needy family in town.

Set Them Free

On Sept. 11, a Texas game warden received a phone call from a citizen advising one of his neighbors was trapping white-winged doves and had them in a cage in his backyard. The warden responded to the residence and located eight white-winged doves in a cage. He then made contact with the homeowner and determined was in possession of the white-winged doves illegally. The warden released the birds and seized an illegal trap. Cases are pending.