Game Warden Stories: Felony Deer Poaching, Illegal Fish, Bad Boys
June 29, 2017
There's no doubt the Texas Game Wardens, as well as any wildlife officers in any state, face a myriad of incidents when in the field — from the serious to the ridiculous.
One thing is for certain. Many times it involves stupid people doping stupid things.
Regularly, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department posts "Game Warden Notes," an online roundup of recent law enforcement stories compiled directly from reports in the field.
Here are some of those stories (reprinted with permission).
From the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Game Warden Field Notes, June 29
The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Big Buck, Big Fine
A nearly 4-year-old Lynn County mule deer poaching case recently came to resolution with an arrest of an individual from Post. The man had originally been charged with a state jail felony, three Class A misdemeanors, and two Class C misdemeanors for killing a mule deer at night from a public road that scored more than 200 points under the Boone & Crockett Club system. Although the subject was initially given a deferred sentence with probation on the felony case, in which the Class A citations were dismissed, his probation was revoked following a drug arrest and he was subsequently found guilty of the felony deer charge. He was sentenced to nine months in a state jail, and paid over $10,000 in civil restitution assessment for the value of the mule deer. However, because the man had never answered to the Class C misdemeanor charges, game wardens petitioned the court for two original charge warrants and two failure to appear warrants. Once those were served, the man pleaded guilty to all four charges and paid an additional $2,374 in fines and court costs.
Not Using Your Noodle
A Smith County game warden was patrolling from his truck around Lake Palestine when he noticed a group of fishermen pull up to a known catfish noodling spot. After watching the group for some time, the warden noticed an illegal fishing device was being used to snag fish. The warden confronted the group, seized the illegal device and issued multiple citations for violation of hand fishing laws, no fishing licenses and other water safety violations.
We All See
A Williamson County game warden received an OGT call about three men at a local creek with homemade spears, masks, and numerous fish in their possession, including undersized bass and catfish. When the OGT caller told them they should not keep the undersized fish, their response was "nobody sees," to which the complainant replied, "I see." The warden responded and met up with the complainant, who took him to the last known location. The three guys were already gone so the warden went to a nearby subdivision still under construction. In the very back, near the creek, he located four trucks hidden in the woods. After getting backup from a county sheriff's deputy, the warden apprehended the first subject when he came up the heavily wooded trail. Shortly thereafter, a second individual emerged to see where the first one had gone and was also apprehended. The deputy took custody of the two guys while the warden went down to the water's edge and apprehended four other adults and a minor. Three of the adults and the child were fishing legally and were allowed to leave. The other three matched the description of the guys the complainant saw, including a description of the fish they had in their possession. In all, they had two dozen fish that included bass as small as 6 inches in length. The minimum statewide length limit on largemouth bass is 14 inches. The three were issued multiple citations for taking game fish by illegal means and taking undersized game fish. Two of them also did not have a fishing license. Cases are pending.
A Williamson County warden investigated three juveniles who captured and abused an injured bird by tossing it in the air several times, striking it a couple of times with a football, then pouring gasoline on it and setting it on fire. One of the boys had posted the delinquent acts on social media and Cedar Park Police Department intercepted the videos before they were deleted. The warden determined the bird was a federally-protected migratory white-winged dove. He made contact with each of the three boys and their parents, obtained their stories and filed cases for taking white-winged dove by illegal means in closed season. All three boys had just received probation for burglary of a habitation. Cases are pending.
A Close Call
A Montgomery County game warden patrolling around Lake Conroe came into contact with a couple and found the man to be in possession of marijuana and methamphetamine. The subject proceeded to take off on foot with the warden in pursuit. The warden caught up to the man and, after a long struggle, placed him under arrest. At some point during the struggle the subject had taken out a pocket knife and opened the blade, but was unable to use it against the warden. He was booked on aggravated assault on a public servant, evading arrest with a prior conviction, and possession of a controlled substance. The woman was found to have a warrant for her arrest on a parole violation for a previous charge of possession of a controlled substance. While booking her, she was found to have a razor blade taped to the inside of her belt.
Boating Safety Pays Off
Bexar County game wardens were patrolling Calaveras Lake for water safety violations. The wardens checked a small boat that was in full water safety compliance, with the three children onboard all wearing life jackets. The wardens complimented the operator and left them to continue their day of fishing. Later that evening the wardens received a report of a boat accident. The boat the wardens had checked earlier had mechanical problems on the way back to shore due to high waves. A boat passing by offered assistance and inadvertently caused a wake that capsized the boat. All passengers were able to make it to the other boat and were taken to shore safely.
Game wardens recently wrapped up a lengthy Crosby County investigation into a hunting without landowner consent case that had been reported to the Operation Game Thief (OGT) hotline. Wardens located and interviewed the three men involved in the incident, and obtained confessions. Two of the subjects were charged with criminal trespassing and the third was charged with criminal trespassing-criminal responsibility of another. One of the three men also admitted to having killed a white-tailed buck while trespassing; his second white-tailed buck of the season in Crosby County. Crosby County is only a one buck county, therefore, wardens also filed an exceeding the bag limit charge, as well as a harvest log violation, on the man. Cases and civil restitution are pending.
You Can Run, but You Cannot Hide
A Tarrant County game warden was patrolling Eagle Mountain Lake by boat when he approached two bank fisherman in a small cove to check fishing licenses. After announcing his presence, the warden observed one suspect turned and walked back to his truck disregarding all verbal commands to stop. There was no place to bank the boat due to the steep bank, so the warden continued verbal commands for the suspect to come back to the boat. The suspect put his fishing pole and something else out of his pocket into his truck, then bent the front license plate upward so it could not be read. As the warden searched the bank for a place to tie up his boat, the suspect opened up his driver side door and reached all the way across the truck for something. The warden jumped off his boat and drew his weapon but instead of the suspect coming out of the truck, he jumped in and drove off. The warden was able to get a positive ID of the back license plate and several days later successfully executed an arrest warrant, but not before fighting off the suspect's dog with pepper spray followed by a short standoff at the front door. Charges include felony evading arrest, fishing without a fishing license, failure to allow inspection, failure to produce ID and driving while license is invalid.