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Game Warden Field Notes
The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
- Dove Caught Your Tongue?
A Waller County game warden and a Harris County game warden were patrolling Waller County when, just before sunset, the wardens heard multiple shots coming from a wooded area. They made their way through the trees and observed three dove hunters having a great hunt, but not retrieving the doves that fell into the woods. If they had, they would have found the two game wardens. After the wardens hid in the brush for about 30 minutes, one of the hunters announced to his friends, “I am done. I have 23.” The wardens looked at one another to make sure they both heard the same thing when the hunter yelled again, “I am done. I have 23 doves.” The wardens took his word for it and announced their presence, separated the hunters, and discovered one with 20 doves, not 23. The other two hunters were within the daily bag limit. One of the wardens walked the hunter who was over his limit back to the hunter’s truck to retrieve his license. At the truck, the warden observed dove feathers that appeared to be from earlier in the day. The warden made a statement to the hunter, “This morning’s hunt was good, wasn’t it?” The hunter promptly agreed that it was really good and then realized what he had done, and said, “Oh, no.” He admitted that he had also shot a limit in the morning. Citations were issued for exceeding daily bag limit and failure to retrieve game.
- A Picture Says One Thousand Words
A Washington County game warden received information about a possible hunting violation from a local cyber crimes unit. The warden interviewed an individual that had posted a photo on his Facebook page of six cattle egrets that had been killed during a dove hunt on Labor Day. On the subject’s Facebook page, it was noted that only three doves had been killed because the egrets got in the way. The subject gave a statement stating he and three other individuals had shot the egrets. The warden obtained information on the other three hunters and the location of the violation, which occurred in Austin County. With assistance from an Austin County game warden, statements were obtained from the other three hunters. Citations and restitution pending on all four subjects.
- Illegal Attraction
Armed only with a tip about a website from an informant claiming an outfitter might be baiting a dove field, Hopkins and Titus County wardens pieced together an investigation that led to several citations. After locating the hunting operator online, the wardens called to book a hunt. Imagine the outfitter’s surprise when his new customers showed up in game warden gear. The operator admitted to spreading three yards of wheat seed down the middle of a 300-acre pasture with a tractor and frontend loader. Citations were issued for baiting and placing bait to attract.
- Smile, You’re on Candid Camera
Two Van Zandt County game wardens were contacted by a local ranch owner concerning a unique picture that was taken on his game camera. The photo showed a woman, with a very distinct tattoo, holding a baby white-tailed deer fawn. The time stamp on the photo said that this woman was on the ranch property in May on the same date and time the ranch was burglarized and several firearms, hunting equipment and a Polaris Ranger were stolen. The wardens then conducted a press conference seeking help from the public in naming the woman in the photograph. The wardens soon received multiple Operation Game Thief calls that matched the woman in the photo with her name and the warden’s received a tip to her current location in Smith County. The wardens, accompanied by a Wood County game warden, went to the location and found her. After being interviewed, the woman confessed to stealing from the ranch and identified her accomplice. The investigation led to a substantial amount of stolen items being recovered, including three guns and the missing vehicle. The case was turned over to the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office, where burglary of a habitation, trespass and unlawful use of a motor vehicle were filed on all subjects.
- The Chupacabra Is Innocent Until Proven Guilty
Two Val Verde County game wardens investigated mountain lion sighting reports that were called in from the outskirts of Del Rio. The first investigation was for a horse that allegedly had been attacked and the second involved a herd of goats. No indications or evidence was found that a mountain lion is roaming and feeding on pets in Del Rio. The wardens also ruled out a Chupacabra.
- I Want Chicken, I Want Liver, Meow Mix, Meow Mix, Please Deliver
Two Val Verde County game wardens responded to a call from a landowner who said there was a bear trying to break in to her storage building. Apparently, the bear was hungry, as it was trying to get to a bag of cat food inside. When the bear ignored the homeowner’s yells, she ran back into her house and retrieved her shotgun. A shot was fired in to the air and the bear ran off. The wardens provided the homeowner with information to try and prevent another encounter.
- It’s Raining Bird Shot
Two Taylor County game wardens received a call from a landowner claiming bird shot was falling on their house and even struck their horse. The wardens went to the residence of the landowner and while getting a statement from him, bird shot fell on the wardens. They located the shooters and had a very serious talk.
- It Was My Girlfriend’s Fault
A Milam County game warden and Bell County game warden were patrolling Milam County on opening day of dove season when they located a group of hunters right before sunset. The wardens waited to see if the hunters would continue shooting after sunset, and after waiting in the brush for a while, the wardens made contact with them. While among the hunters, the wardens found three men and two shot guns, one a 12-guage, the other a 20-gauge, and spent shells everywhere. The problem with this is that only one man admitted to hunting. One warden asked one of the non-hunters why he had so many shells in the back of his truck. The man said his girlfriend was shooting beer cans. When the warden asked where she was shooting from and to see the cans, the man said she was shooting from 15 yards away and had missed every time. The warden called his bluff and the man later admitted to hunting and citations were issued.
- Sooner or Later
A Gonzales County game warden responded to a call regarding a missing boater on Lake Wood several hours after dark. The warden remembered seeing the boater pass by on the Guadalupe River during the middle of the afternoon, so he launched a boat into the river with a deputy sheriff and assisted with the search and rescue. About an hour later, the warden and the deputy found a stranded boater about 10 miles upriver from the Lake Wood dam. He was mosquito bitten, but otherwise unhurt. The boater said he had plowed over a shallow gravel bar and his boat sucked up rocks in the intake and started talking on water and the engine compartment became awash. The man also ruined his cell phone during the ordeal, so calling for help was impossible, but he was close to a dock so he secured his boat and climbed onto the dock to wait for help. As the warden approached the dock, the man said, "I knew you’d come get me sooner or later."
- Trophy Duck
Two Refugio County game wardens were checking teal hunters in the northern part of the county when they came across one hunter in particular. The hunter produced his bag and told one of the game wardens that he had bagged the biggest teal duck he had ever seen. The warden advised the hunter that the reason the duck was so big was because it was a mottled duck. The hunter was filed for lack of hunter education course.
- Just Tags Don’t Cut It Now
Two Refugio County game wardens finished checking dove hunters and headed over to Bayside to see how the fishermen were doing. Two subjects, who were pulling their boat out of Copano Bay, advised the wardens that they had one gar. One subject did all the talking while the other seemed in a hurry to get things loaded up. One of the wardens asked the fast-moving subject if he had a wedding to get to. The subject said no, so he asked if they had caught any other fish. The subject stated they had a redfish that was almost 28 inches. When the warden checked the ice chest, they saw a 26-inch redfish. The warden asked the subject what he was measuring with and if they had any other fish. The subjects admitted to having two more redfish, one at 29-inches and the other at 30-inches. The fast-moving subject advised the game warden that they would go ahead and tag their fish. The warden advised both subjects that tags would be filled out after both subjects signed their citations.
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