Game Warden Field Notes
The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
The Dog Fetched Them Up
Dogs are known for bringing home unwanted objects. Sometimes they do eat your homework. But, when a Texarkana man recently told game wardens the mallard ducks they discovered hanging in his warehouse came from a retrieving dog field trials competition in Arkansas, eyebrows raised. In this case, the wardens were able to verify there had been such a contest that uses farm-raised ducks, and the mallards showed no evidence of having been shot. The wardens then explained to the man that a wildlife resource document is still required to possess the birds. They issued the appropriate citations and warnings, and the cases are pending.
Drop a Pin, We’ll Find You
Cell phone technology can be a tremendous asset for first responders, particularly when attempting search and rescue in remote areas. On Sept. 29, game wardens responded to a rescue call on the Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area after a caller informed them he had been out scouting for ducks when his truck became stuck in rising water, which was now entering the cab of his vehicle. The victim was rescued shortly after “dropping a pin” from his phone that helped game wardens quickly reach his location. Once the wrecker service got the man’s vehicle to the high ground, the wardens requested to see his Annual Public Hunting Lands permit, which is required to enter the WMA. He was not able to produce a license, nor did he register at the gate upon entering the property. An odor of marijuana was also detected coming from his vehicle during the contact. A small amount of marijuana was located along with 108 grams of Xanax. The violator was arrested and placed in the Freestone County Jail.
After posting Snapchat video clips of themselves skinning a white-tailed doe they had harvested in Angelina County out of season and at night, two young women remained unfazed when game wardens came knocking on their door. Perhaps they thought the visit might boost their story likes? The subjects readily admitted to riding around and shooting a doe and a fawn the previous night, and the doe carcass was found in the front yard wasting away with only the backstraps removed. The shooter claimed she didn’t know how to finish field dressing the deer, so she didn’t mess with it. Based on the Snapchat video, she was reasonably well-versed in lifting the backstraps. During questioning about the incident, the shooter laughed as she told the wardens she had almost missed the shot. She wasn’t laughing after realizing the amount of trouble they were in. Cases are pending.
Following a Fishy Smell
A Montgomery County game warden was checking bank fisherman along the San Jacinto River when he discovered two men fishing without valid fishing licenses. One of the violators claimed to have a fishing license in his car, so the warden followed him to his vehicle where he observed a cooler in the rear compartment. Inside the cooler was a skinned out catfish that the violator claimed to have bought from two guys upriver. The warden had the violator take him to the spot where he had made the purchase, and issued citations to two individuals who admitted to selling the fish. The two individuals who sold the catfish also had outstanding misdemeanor warrants. They were arrested and booked into the Montgomery County Jail.
Sacking up Bull Reds
Just before dark Sept. 28, a Matagorda County game warden was notified by a fisherman there were four individuals at the Matagorda jetties catching bull redfish and transporting them in trash bags to their SUV. The warden made contact with the occupants of the SUV as they were pulling off the beach. Upon inspection of the cooler in the back of the vehicle, seven oversized red drums were found, with the smallest measuring 35 inches and the longest measuring 44 inches. None of the fish were tagged. After a brief interview, all four individuals admitted to fishing and catching the red drum. Only three individuals had fishing licenses. Citations for possession of oversized untagged red drum and no fishing license were issued, and civil restitution was filed.
Rolling Down the River
On Sept. 24 at about 10:30 p.m., a Fayette County game warden received a call from the sheriff’s office concerning a woman who had not returned from a kayak trip on the Colorado River. She was able to reach her husband using her cell phone and told him she had passed up her exit point, and her phone battery was almost dead. The warden, accompanied by a local fireman, launched an airboat on the river and was able to locate the woman a little after 1:00 a.m. approximately ten miles past the boat ramp. She was safely transported back and reunited with her husband.
Free Fishing in Parks Doesn’t Mean Illegal Fishing
Pedernales Falls State Park Police Officers contacted five male subjects near the river recently that matched the description of potential violators reported to have been fishing illegally inside the state park. They were identified and interviewed by park police officers. The officers found non-game and game fish in a trash bag in the trunk of the subjects’ car. Nets and other fishing equipment were also discovered. The subjects admitted to catching the fish illegally with cast nets. The officers filed multiple cases along with civil restitution.
On Sept. 26, a La Salle County game warden discovered a group of dove hunters hunting a large field with lots of doves. Instead of checking the group that morning, the warden decided to wait and check the group that evening at their hunting camp. That evening at camp, the warden was hearing many of the hunters say they did not hunt in the morning. Knowing the area was empty that morning, the warden began searching for extra birds. Six hunters had double limits but argued they had hunted the previous day at other ranches and were within their possession limits. The warden asked each individual for hunt details from the prior day and promised the hunters that he would look into all the details.
The information included a hunt at a ranch in Uvalde County. The warden reached out to his game warden colleagues in Uvalde County familiar with the area, and they reported back that hunting activity was deficient., casting doubt on the hunters’ claims. Upon contact with the hunters again, and after sharing the details of the investigation, all the hunters confessed to killing a limit of doves in both the morning and the evening on the same day. Citations were issued for over the threshold of mourning dove to each hunter.