Tales from Texas trails
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: May 24, 2016

This post is from Texas Parks and Wildlife, but it is chalk full of real-life calls game wardens get. Remember to give these guys and gals an extra pat on the back. They truly put up with some weird stuff.

Game Warden Field Notes

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

Blocking the Roadway

While patrolling a state highway a Crockett County game warden saw a large well-pulling truck blocking the roadway. One of its axles broke in two as the truck tried to merge onto the highway. The warden provided traffic control for public safety and contacted the Texas Department of Transportation for additional traffic control assistance, since it would be a while before the truck could be moved. The warden and other law enforcement officials eventually cleared the roadway.

Game Wardens Are Hawk Rescuers, Too

A Val Verde County game warden responded to a call from the local sheriff’s office about an injured hawk a traveler on a nearby state highway had seen on the side of the road. Working with the sheriff’s office, regional TPWD biologists, a Kinney County game warden and the caller, the warden and other law enforcement officials successfully transported the hawk to a raptor rehabilitator in Uvalde County. The hawk is on its way to a full recovery.

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

A Nolan County game warden was patrolling the Lake Trammel area after dark when he noticed vehicle headlights shining around an upcoming turn in the road. The vehicle appeared to be stationary. As the warden rounded the turn, he saw a truck backed up to a speed limit sign and a man standing in the truck bed attempting to remove the sign. While the warden interviewed the man and the driver, both individuals said the speed limit sign was the only one they had tried to take that night. However, the warden found several more road signs covered by a mat in the bed of the truck. The men admitted to taking the signs. The warden issued citations to both individuals and had them spend the next hour returning the signs to their original locations. Cases against the men are pending.

Muddy Tracks Lead the Way

A Gonzales County game warden responded to a call about a poaching incident on a county road in an area notorious for road hunting. The complainant supplied the warden with a description of the vehicle, a license plate number and a description of the suspects. The complainant, who had confronted the suspects for trespassing and shooting in his backyard, also warned the warden the suspects were drinking and armed. The game warden responded to the landowner’s property but found no evidence of an incident. Due to heavy rain, the warden suspended the search for evidence and instead followed muddy tracks in the road, which led him to the suspects. The suspects admitted to having shot at wild pigs running across the road and searching for the wounded animals on the landowner’s property. The next day, the warden met the men, who were all from North Carolina, at the Justice of the Peace office in Gonzales County. The suspects paid more than $1,700 in fines.

DPS Detains Drunk Driver

A Gonzales County game warden was checking fishermen on the Guadalupe River when he got a call for assistance from the local sheriff’s office about a possible intoxicated driver on a nearby road. The warden spotted the vehicle in question and followed it. Noticing the driver weaving from side to side and crossing the highway’s centerline, the warden stopped the vehicle and observed signs of intoxication in the driver. He detained the suspect on a charge of driving while intoxicated. The responding DPS trooper arrested the suspect, who provided a blood alcohol sample of three times the legal limit.

Working the Devils River

Two Val Verde County game wardens patrolled a rural part of the Devils River by kayak. Because of the river’s location, it can be difficult to get the kayak and other equipment to the put-in point and then get it all out at the take-out point. Despite the logistical challenges, the game wardens were able to safely patrol the river, checking 12 kayakers and river users, with high voluntary water safety compliance.

Turkeys Are Not Toys

An Atascosa County game warden received a tip about a person keeping a wild Rio Grande turkey in captivity on his property. The warden responded to the location and found the turkey tied by its leg in a makeshift coop. The suspect admitted to chasing the turkey down and capturing it. The warden cited the suspect, seized the turkey and released it in suitable habitat along the Atascosa River.

The Devil’s in the (Expired) Details

After an Atascosa County game warden noticed a vehicle with an expired registration pulling into a Wal-Mart parking lot, he pulled the vehicle over and made contact with the driver. Upon running her license information, the warden found the female driver had an active felony arrest warrant for violation of probation for cocaine possession. The warden impounded the female’s vehicle and transported her to the Atascosa County jail.

Flee on Foot

Two game wardens were checking a fisherman at a local lake in Lubbock when they discovered the man did not have a fishing license. Upon further investigation, the wardens learned the man, who had several felony arrest warrants, had given them a false name. When the wardens confronted him about the warrants, the man tried to flee on foot, though he did not get far before the wardens caught up to him and arrested him. Several charges, including failure to identify as a fugitive, resisting arrest and evading arrest, are pending against the fisherman.

Restricted Air Space

A game warden received a call from an Archer County landowner about a helicopter illegally hunting over his property. The warden visited a nearby property, where he found the helicopter, pilot and crew. The warden interviewed the pilot and crew, who said they had flown over the landowner’s property to film feral hogs for a television show. After consulting the landowner and a game warden captain, the warden determined the crew was in violation for managing wildlife by aircraft, a Class A misdemeanor, without landowner consent. “Managing” wildlife includes photographing wildlife. The warden arrested four crewmembers for managing wildlife by aircraft without landowner authorization. The cases are pending.

Buy and Bust

A Gonzales County game warden and a Guadalupe County game warden teamed up with a special operations sergeant to set up a buy/bust operation in Gonzales County. The investigation was a response to an Operation Game Thief call the wardens received a few weeks prior about an individual selling wild-caught raccoons over the Internet. The wardens’ investigation revealed the suspect did not possess a current furbearing animal propagator’s permit. The wardens successfully caught the suspect in the illegal act of selling several live, wild raccoons. Cases are pending against the seller.

Can’t Outrun the Game Wardens

Two Calhoun County game wardens were patrolling Keller Bay for commercial oystering compliance when they saw a boat crew harvesting oysters in closed waters. Once the crew spotted the wardens, they attempted to elude them, but they didn’t get far. The wardens arrested two individuals for oystering in closed waters, which is a state jail felony. The cases against the individuals are pending.

Scary Catch

Two Aransas County game wardens assisted the Aransas County Sheriff’s Department and the Corpus Christi Police Department bomb squad in responding to a potential bomb threat on the water. A commercial oyster boat had accidentally scooped up several old U.S. military mortar rounds. The crew was afraid the mortar rounds could still be active and called the CCPD bomb squad to inspect the rounds and take possession of them. The wardens assisted because of their knowledge of the bay system and the dynamics of oyster boats.

Working the River

Five game wardens patrolled a 26-mile stretch of the Rio Grande River by kayak on a two-day trip. Their goal was to gauge resource law compliance on a stretch of river that is usually very difficult to access and navigate by conventional methods. The wardens also gathered intelligence on possible river-crossing areas, trails and commercial and recreational fishing gear used along the river. The wardens seized several illegal drop lines and jug lines along the way.

Game Wardens Respond to Possible Overdose

An Atascosa County game warden responded to a call about a possible overdose at a local hotel. The warden and a local police officer were first on scene. They saw a man outside a hotel room frantically waving his arms to signal them to come over. The warden and officer assessed the situation while EMS took a female heroin-overdose patient to the hospital. While inspecting the room, the warden found hidden heroin and drug paraphernalia that the male suspect admitted to using. The warden booked the male into the Atascosa County Jail for public intoxication – heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Searching for Sunken “Treasure”

A Taylor County game warden discovered a submerged vehicle in a local lake using side-scan sonar. Divers attempted to recover the vehicle but had to stop their recovery efforts because of 35 mph winds. When recovery efforts resumed, a wrecker service fished it out of the water. The vehicle had been reported stolen out of Abilene. The investigation is ongoing.