Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

October 19, 2012

Texas Game Warden Field Notes

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 6:36 am
  • Val Verde County Game Wardens Mike Durand and Aaron Willoughby were kept busy over the weekend of Sept. 8-9 investigating reports of mountain lions roaming 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.

Wardens found no indications or evidence that a mountain lion is roaming and feeding on pets in Del Rio.

The wardens also ruled out the chupacabra.

  • That rash of mountain lion reports may well have been triggered by a Sept. 5 incident in which Val Verde County Game Warden Mike Durand responded to a call from the Del Rio Police Department concerning a mountain lion sitting on a hood of a car in downtown Del Rio.

The lion had been cornered in a building and the PD wanted to know if it was OK to shoot it.

Because of the lion’s location and behavior, it was dispatched by the Del Rio Police Department.

  • Van Zandt County Game Wardens Trent Herchman and Steve Stapleton were contacted July 18 by a local ranch owner concerning a unique photograph taken on his remote-sensing game camera.

The photo showed a female subject, who had a very distinct tattoo, holding a white-tailed deer fawn.

The photograph had been taken in May, on the same date and time the ranch had been burglarized and several firearms, miscellaneous hunting equipment and a Polaris Ranger ATV were stolen.

Unable to identify the subject in the photo, wardens conducted a press conference seeking public help in naming the female subject.

Wardens soon received several Operation Game Thief calls, all of which identified the woman in the photo, giving her name. The pair of wardens also received a tip concerning the suspect’s location in Smith County, and went to that location accompanied by Wood County Game Warden Derek Spitzer.

Wardens found the subject at the residence and questioned her. She confessed, and identified her accomplice.

The investigation led to a substantial amount of stolen items being recovered, including three guns and the Ranger ATV.

The case was turned over to the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office for prosecution, where burglary of a habitation, trespass and unlawful use of a motor vehicle were filed on all subjects.

  • Cooke County Game Warden Darla Barr was checking for dove hunters on the Corps of Engineers public hunting areas when a vehicle approached, stopped when it saw Warden Barr’s vehicle and started to turn around and leave.

This piqued Warden Barr’s curiosity, so she motioned for the vehicle, which held two occupants, to continue her way.

The driver advised that he really wasn’t dove hunting even though he had a fully loaded shotgun shoved down between the passenger seat and door.

A closer check of the gun found it to have been reported stolen out of Kaufman County in 2006.

The driver was cooperative in giving details on how he came into possession of the stolen firearm. The shotgun was recovered and the investigation continues.

The passenger, however, was cited for possessing drug paraphernalia.

Case pending.

  • Washington County Game Warden Eddie Hines recently received information on a possible hunting violation from a local cyber crimes unit.

Warden Hines interviewed an individual who had posted a photo on his Facebook page of six cattle egrets – birds protected by state and federal law – that had been taken during a dove hunt on Labor Day.

The individual had stated on his Facebook page that only three doves had been killed because the egrets got in the way.

The subject gave a statement including how he and three other individuals had shot the cattle egrets, information on the other three hunters and the location of the violation, which occurred in Austin County.

With assistance from Austin County Game Warden Sonny Alaniz, statements were obtained from the other three subjects.

Citations and restitution pending on all four subjects.

  • Game Warden Phillip Wood in July received an Operation Game Thief call concerning a butchered deer that had fallen into the road from a cooler located on top of a Jeep.

The caller stated that the deer had been quartered, and that he would remain with the deer until the warden arrived.

Also, the caller had followed the suspects’ vehicle and had noted the license plate number and gave a very good description of the suspects.

Warden Wood was able to trace the plate to a residence nearby.

After a short interview with the driver of the jeep, Warden Wood left the scene and contacted Warden Tim Walker to help with the investigation.

Wardens Wood and Walker conducted a thorough investigation, spending several days tracking down individuals who also been involved in illegally taking the deer.

The case was recently disposed of in county court with the shooter (driver of the Jeep) being filed on for hunting from a vehicle and waste of game.

The other four individuals were filed on in JP court.

The shooter received two years probation, 40 hours of community service and his hunting privileges are suspended for two years. He also faces civil restitution charges.

The other four received maximum fines in JP court.

The court awarded TPWD the firearm used in commission of the offense.

  • Waller County Game Warden Kevin Glass and Harris County Game Warden Mark Bane were patrolling Waller County. Just before sunset on Sept. 7 when they heard  multiple shots coming from a wooded area.

The wardens made their way through the trees and observed three dove hunters having a great hunt.

However, the hunters were not retrieving the doves they downed that fell into the woods. If they had, they would have found two very hot and sweaty Texas Game Wardens.

After approximately 30 minutes, one of the hunters announced to his friends, “I am done. I have 23.”

The wardens looked at each other to verify what the hunter had just yelled to his friend. The daily bag limit of doves is 15.

Then the hunter yelled out 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 were within the daily bag limit).

Warden Glass walked the hunter who was over his limit back to the hunter’s truck to retrieve his license. At the truck, Warden Glass observed dove feathers that appeared to be from the morning, and stated, “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 15-dove limit that morning.

Citations were issued for exceeding daily bag limit and fail to retrieve game.

  • While patrolling on opening day of dove season, Cherokee County Game Wardens Eric Collins and Brian Bearden heard shots, attempted to locate the hunters and found an ATV parked in a nearby pasture.

Wardens observed grains of milo on the back of the ATV, and also found the grain spread across mowed portions of the pasture.

When the five hunters finally emerged from the brush, they admitted to baiting the area two weeks earlier and hunting it that day.

Wardens issued citations for hunting dove over bait.

As the wardens were leaving, the little son of one of the hunters came up to the wardens’ truck and knocked on the door to tell the wardens that they all had been hiding in the barn.

Kids never lie.

Cases pending.

  • Palo Pinto County Game Wardens Matt Waggoner and David Pellizzari were patrolling for dove hunters on Sept. 2 when they came across a group of people sitting just inside a gate.

As the wardens drove up, they observed one subject immediately put his gun down next to his buddy and put his hands in his pockets.

After a search of the area and all the people, the wardens found five packages of synthetic marijuana, two empty containers with marijuana residue, and three marijuana pipes.

Wardens Pellizzari and Waggoner also found two unplugged shotguns, three subjects without hunter education and one subject without a hunting license.

The subject observed putting his gun down next to his buddy turned out to be a convicted felon and was arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

Multiple citations were issued to the other violators. All cases pending.

  • Hill County Warden Douglas Volcik received a complaint Sept. 2 from a local hunting guide indicating a couple of hunters were refusing to leave the field and  demanding to have their money returned to them because they felt that they didn’t have the opportunity to limit out while dove hunting.

Warden Volcik and McLennan County Warden Michael Serbanic responded, escorted the subjects from the hunting area and issued citations for criminal trespass.

  • Bell County Game Warden Brandt Bernstein checked more than 100 dove hunters opening morning, writing 23 citations to hunters in a single field.

Warden Bernstein asked the owner of the property if this was a commercial day-lease hunting operation.

The owner stated that to show his appreciation to people with whom he does business, he let them hunt there, and at the end of the day he gave away a shotgun.

Because of the landowner’s demeanor and known previous TPWD violations, Warden Bernstein asked several of the hunters in the field what they paid to hunt.

They stated they were paying $65 per day.

Warden Bernstein finished making his round in the field and filed on the owner of the property for not having the required hunting lease license.

  • Hutchinson/Carson County Game Warden Lance Lindley on Sept. 2 assisted Carson County deputies unpin a farmer who was wedged between a round hay baler door and the baler’s tire.

The farmer was changing a broken belt on the baler when a hydraulic hose broke allowing the baler door to slam down on him and wedge him between it and the tire.

Warden Lindley and the deputies hooked onto the door with a chain and patrol truck and slowly raised the door, unpinning the farmer who was taken to an Amarillo hospital by EMS staff.

  • Bandera County Game Warden Mark McQueary reports a toxicology test on one of two subjects who drowned last month in Medina Lake had a blood alcohol level of .38, more than four times the .08 BAC Texas law sets as intoxicated.

Wardens had assisted in responding to the drowning and utilized the side-scan sonar to locate the subjects.

  • Over Labor Day weekend, Caldwell County Game Warden Joann Garza-Mayberry led an operation on the San Marcos River with Caldwell County constables, constable deputies, sheriff’s office deputies and DPS troopers.

The group made arrests and wrote 122 citations that included minor in possession of alcohol, consumption of alcohol by a minor, possession of drug paraphernalia, littering, insufficient number of personal flotation devices, failure to identify and public intoxication.

While patrolling the San Marcos River by kayak during the operation, Warden Joann Garza-Mayberry received a call from the sheriff’s office regarding an unconscious subject on the river.

The caller reported the male was intoxicated, lost consciousness, fell out of his tube and was under water for a while before bystanders lifted him out of the water.

The caller was unable to give an accurate location where EMS could access the victim.

Warden Mayberry was able to locate the individual based on landmarks the caller provided on the river.

Because of the steep pitch of the river bank where the subject was lying, he was inaccessible to medical staff.

Warden Mayberry waded to the victim, placed him on her kayak, transported him to a nearby bank and provided the sheriff’s office the location of an accessible path.

A sheriff’s office sergeant was able to access the location given by vehicle, and the two officers transported the male subject by truck to the waiting paramedics who took the man to an area hospital.

  • While patrolling for dove hunting compliance near Lake Alan Henry on Sept. 2, Game Wardens Drew Spencer and Trey Kram responded to an accident involving a boat/truck collision, with injuries, at a private boat ramp.

Seems a large ski boat, with occupants, was being backed down the ramp when it came off the hitch and rolled down the ramp at what one bystander estimated was about 50 miles an hour.

The loose boat slammed into the grill of a large truck offloading its boat.

The occupants of the unhitched boat were slammed around and suffered injuries.

  • Game Warden Kevin Mitchell responded to an OGT call the night of Aug. 24 regarding a subject cast netting undersized blue catfish on Lake Corpus Christi.

The caller indicated that the male violator was filleting the fish, placing the fillets into a box, and his wife would hide the box in their vehicle.

Upon arrival at the scene, Warden Mitchell noticed the cast net and man and woman as described by the caller.

The male subject denied having any fish other than the four legal blue cats in a bucket.

Warden Mitchell asked for and received consent to search the subject’s vehicle in which he found 88 fillets in a shoe box.

Cases pending.

  • Washington County Game Warden Eddie Hines received a tip in mid-August concerning a subject who had shot and killed an alligator out of season.

The subject made an attempt to have the reptile mounted by a taxidermist in Fannin County.

Warden Hines notified Fannin County Game Warden Randolph McGee about the illegal kill. Warden McGee located the individual’s residence and contacted Collin County Game Warden Josh Ross who visited the subject’s home and learned that the subject was no longer in possession of the alligator.

The subject stated that after learning that the kill was illegal, he went back to retrieve the alligator from his refrigerator and found the reptile was still alive.

The subject stated that he then took the alligator down to the creek and released it – well, he “released” it after he shot it in the head with a .22 caliber rifle.

Case pending.

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