Suspicious Rooftop Deer, Drive-By Poachers, 'Bragging' on Social Media: Game Warden Stories
January 12, 2018
Wildlife officers face a myriad of incidents in the field — these Texas Game Warden stories range from the serious to the ridiculous.
Regularly, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department posts "Game Warden Field Notes," an online roundup of recent law enforcement stories directly from reports in the field.
The following items are re-published here with permission.
Up on the Rooftop Mule Deer Paws
'Twas the season for deer hunting Dec. 10 in Crosby County, just not for mule deer; whitetails were still fair game, but mule deer season ended a week earlier. So, when a game warden received a text message with an image of an SUV being driven through Crosby County with a deer trussed to its roof like a Christmas tree, it was the "branches" that caught his attention.
One physical trait muleys possess that differentiates them from their cervid cousin, the whitetail, is a distinctive branched antler. After a quick run of the vehicle's license plate, the warden contacted the registered owner on his cell phone, and asked if he was driving down the highway with a dead deer strapped to his roof. The man acknowledged, and claimed it was a whitetail he had harvested in Floyd County.
When pressed, however, the man could not offer details on exactly where in Floyd County he hunted. The warden told him to text a photo so he could verify the deer was a whitetail, and at that point the man confessed. He had shot the mule deer earlier that morning. The warden later met with the man, gained a verbal and written statement, and seized both the deer and rifle used in the crime. Criminal charges for the out-of-season mule deer and for having illegally tagged it as a white-tailed deer are pending in Floyd County, and civil restitution for the mule deer are pending.
In Self Defense
Some hunters believe commercial scent attractants to be effective at luring in white-tailed deer, particularly during the rut. A Smith County man argued recently that these products work too good, and caused him to have to shoot two undersized bucks in self-defense.
After a logging crew reported finding two buck heads on top of a shed hidden in the woods, a Smith County game warden began asking around. Upon hearing the law was investigating, a subject called the warden and confessed, but claimed there were extenuating circumstances. The subject stated he was hunting in a ground blind and decided to spray a commercial scent attractant out the window.
Moments later, a 5-point buck with a 9 inch inside spread appeared. He claimed the buck took several steps toward him, and then charged at his ground blind. The subject said he shot the buck at 30 feet away in self-defense. After dragging the buck to his blind, the man claimed he left the area to get his truck, and later returned to collect the deer and his hunting gear.
While exiting his blind with his gear, the subject said a 6-point buck with a 6 inch spread came charging at him and he was forced to shoot in self-defense again, this time from 36 feet away. The subject stated he put the deer heads on the shed with the intention of turning himself in, but never got around to it. Multiple charges are pending.
Deer stands offer hunters a unique elevated view of the landscape, and enhance their ability to go undetected while observing nature. You never know what you might see.
Case in point: in the late afternoon Dec. 9, a Frio County game warden got a call from dispatch advising that a hunter in his deer stand had just witnessed a white van stop, discharge a firearm from a public road and load a deer in the back of the vehicle.
Poaching articles on G&F
The warden responded to the location and made contact with a white van.
The subjects admitted to shooting a deer from the public road, as evidenced by a freshly killed doe in the back of their van. They were transported to the Frio County Jail. The cases are pending.
Shared and Not Liked
Scofflaws are not bashful about posting their exploits to social media, and game wardens regularly scan the "bragging boards" for clues into illegal game and fish activities. In December, game wardens gathered intelligence from a Facebook post of a man with two white-tailed bucks he claimed to have harvested at the same time near Lubbock.
Wardens identified the individual in the post and questioned him about his feat. The man admitted to taking the two bucks in a one buck limit county.
Over the limit and tagging violations were filed along with civil restitution. The cases are pending. In an unrelated case, a Trinity County warden found a social media post of an untagged 8-point buck, and began investigating the individual who claimed to have shot it. As it turned out, the young man did not possess a hunting license. Multiple citations and civil restitution are pending.