Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

February 24, 2016

Game Warden Field Notes


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

Too Many to Count
Two Val Verde County game wardens were checking hunting camps when they discovered a hunting party had taken too many deer. To keep up with the growing list of violations, the game wardens resorted to drawing up a chart on paper. In total, the wardens filed three charges for untagged deer, four charges for hunting with another individual’s license, one charge for hunting without a license, one charge for incorrect deer processing, one charge for being over the limit on antlered deer and one charge for no proof of hunter’s education. The wardens also filed 18 warnings for harvest log violations. The wardens seized and donated five deer, and restitution is pending.

Man Overboard
A Grayson County game warden got a call about a boat circling Lake Texoma with no operator. Witnesses reported seeing the boat come out of a cove at a high rate of speed earlier that day. A search of the area and a subsequent investigation revealed the operator, who was not wearing a kill switch or a life vest, had been thrown out of the boat. The TPWD Dive Team and other wardens continued searching for the victim until they found him days later. The dive team recovered the body from 40 feet of water, just north of the original target search area.

No Luck Pulling Stuck Trucks
A Van Zandt County game warden got a call from a landowner who said his ranch truck was stolen from his hunting camp. The warden was en route to the landowner’s location when the landowner called him back to say he had found his truck stuck on an easement by the Sabine River, close to another deer camp. When the warden arrived on scene, he found three individuals with two trucks stuck on the easement. After interviewing each person, the warden determined not only had the individuals stolen the landowner’s truck to pull out their own stuck truck, they had also shot a small whitetail buck the night before on the neighboring ranch, on which they did not have consent to hunt. The individuals confessed they shot the deer at night.

Two-Timing Suspect
When two Bowie County game wardens got a call about a shoplifter, one warden recognized the name of the suspect from an aggravated assault case the day before. The suspect left the shoplifting scene on foot, leaving his friends and vehicle behind. When the wardens arrived on scene, they found the suspect walking down a nearby road. He appeared highly intoxicated and had marijuana in his possession. The wardens turned the suspect over to Bowie County.

Even Off Duty Game Wardens Never Quit
While a Titus County game warden was vacationing with his family at a ranch in Morris County, a vehicle drove onto the ranch. The two men in the vehicle asked for permission to retrieve their hog dogs from the property, as well as the hog the dogs had cornered. The warden recognized the driver as a local poacher, but the driver didn’t recognize the warden without his uniform. The warden identified himself and asked to see their hunting licenses, which the hunters provided. The warden informed the men trespassing or hunting were not allowed on the ranch and requested they leave immediately. About 15 minutes later, as the warden and his family were leaving the ranch, he drove up on the hunters’ vehicle, which was blocking the ranch’s private roadway. No one was in the vehicle, but the two hunters came out of the nearby woods about 10 minutes later. Before instructing them to leave the property or face arrest, the warden informed both men he was going to file charges on them for criminal trespass, advising them he would contact them later. The hunters left the ranch, parking about a quarter mile away. The warden found three hog dogs, one of which was bleeding from a puncture wound possibly caused by a wild hog. The warden led the dogs off the ranch to the hunters. When the warden asked the driver if he had all his dogs, the driver turned his back to the warden without answering, got in his truck and drove off. After conducting a computer check, the warden found the driver had been convicted three times for driving with an invalid license. Charges for criminal trespass and driving while license invalid are pending.

Eighth Time’s the Charm
A Smith County man accepted a plea deal of 45 years in confinement as a result of a traffic stop conducted by a Smith County game warden in June 2015. During the stop, the man showed signs of impairment. The warden called a DPS Trooper to assist with the investigation, which revealed the man had a blood alcohol level over the legal limit. This conviction is the man’s eighth for driving while intoxicated.

Case Closed
Recently, a rice farmer pled guilty before a U.S. Magistrate Judge to illegally killing 65 brown-headed cowbirds and four red-tailed hawks. After finding large numbers of dead and dying birds on or near his property, two Brazoria County game wardens and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife special agent opened an investigation into the farmer’s activities, which led to charges against him. They discovered the farmer had spread a restricted use pesticide and rice mixture in his fields with the intent to kill birds. Upon entering a guilty plea, the judge ordered the man to pay a fine and serve two years’ probation.

Game, Set, Match
After receiving a call from a landowner about night hunting activity and witnessing it themselves, three game wardens set out to catch the hunters in the act one night. The wardens set up a decoy white-tailed deer in the area and watched as the hunters drove around in a UTV, spotlighting the landowner’s ranch and neighboring properties, on which none of the hunters had consent to hunt. After a couple hours, the wardens saw an excited commotion break out among the hunters as they spotted the decoy. One of the hunters hastily steadied himself atop the UTV and fired two shots at the decoy. The wardens quickly made themselves known to the hunters, who complied with their commands. The wardens detained six individuals while one hunter exclaimed they were only hunting hogs. The wardens then arrested two of the six individuals, including the hunter who shot the decoy. The cases are pending.

Y’all Should Know Better
A game warden got a call from a Floyd County landowner, who said a group of waterfowl hunters were hunting on his property without his consent. The warden responded and apprehended four subjects, all of whom were guides for a local waterfowl hunting outfitter. Charges were filed at the request of the landowner, and the cases are pending.

September 29, 2015

Texas Game Wardens

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 10:42 am
Tags: ,


Destroy $6 Million Marijuana Farm on Cooper WMA

Public Hunters Discover Illegal Camp, 6,500 Pot Plants during Opening Weekend of Teal Season

AUSTIN – Public hunters pursuing feral hogs at Cooper Wildlife Management Area in northeast Texas over the weekend stumbled upon a sophisticated marijuana growing encampment having more than 6,500 mature plants with a street value estimated at more than $6 million.

Alerted by the public hunters, Texas game wardens led a multi-agency investigation of the well-established site tucked away in a remote swampy area of the 14,480-acre WMA about 70 miles northeast of Dallas. Wardens found a campsite with tents, farming tools, fertilizer, a generator and water pump irrigation equipment indicating the operation had been ongoing for some time.

“This was not someone playing around and experimenting,” said Texas Game Warden Captain Steve Stapleton. “The camp was at least a mile from any road in some harsh conditions. They picked this spot on purpose and spent day and night out there for some time. There was a lot of trash to clean up.”

An extensive search of the area from the air and on the ground by game wardens, Delta and Hopkins County Sheriff’s Offices, Texas Department of Criminal Justice tracking dogs and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers netted no arrests. Officials destroyed all the marijuana on site and seized the property and equipment.

“The destruction to the habitat and the damage these people did to the environment is probably the worst part,” said Texas Game Warden Chris Fried. “They cut mature hardwood trees, including a pin oak that was at least five foot in diameter, and cleared parts of a levee that will take many years to recover. The chemicals they sprayed, insecticides and pesticides that contaminated the soil and eventually run off into the streams will have lasting impacts.”

Fried said illegal marijuana growing operations are not unheard of in remote areas, both on public and private lands, but it is uncommon to catch the illegal farmers in the act.

“It’s something we keep our ears open to, but this is the first one I’ve seen on Cooper,” he said.

In all probability, the growers would have harvested their crops and left prior to the archery deer season opener in early October.

“They would’ve folded up shop by October 1 ahead of archery deer season opening, but obviously didn’t figure in the opening of teal and feral hog hunting season in mid-September,” Stapleton noted.

Instead, they got an early season wakeup as their efforts to grow marijuana crops valued at $6 million went up in smoke.

August 7, 2011

New Fishing and Hunting License (Texas) available 8/15/11

News Release
Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.state.tx.us

Aug. 2, 2011

Hunting, Fishing Licenses sold online Aug. 15

AUSTIN — Current year Texas hunting and fishing licenses (except year-to-date fishing licenses) expire Aug. 31, and new licenses for 2011-2012 will go on sale Monday, Aug. 15.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department issues about 2.1 million hunting and fishing licenses annually through the agency’s 28 field offices, more than 65 state parks and at over 1,500 retailers across Texas. For a $5 administrative transaction fee, licenses may also be purchased online through the TPWD Web site or by phone (800-895-4248). Call center hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday — Friday. The online transaction system is available 24/7. A transaction receipt may be printed at the time of purchase for online and a confirmation number is provided for phone orders, and the physical license is mailed separately. Confirmation numbers will verify that a license has been purchased, which is sufficient for dove hunting, but will not allow hunters to take fish or wildlife that require a tag.

Fishing License Exemptions

Recently the legislature created an exception for fishing licenses. In addition to allowing the public to fish at state parks without a license, resident fishers born prior to Jan. 1, 1931 are exempt from purchasing a state fishing license. These senior anglers are free to fish any state water body without purchasing the required annual license. Resident anglers 65 and older qualify for reduced price fishing and hunting licenses.

Dove Hunting Requirements

In addition to a hunting license, all wing shooters will need to purchase a game bird stamp. To hunt dove or teal in September, a Migratory Game Bird Stamp ($7) is required. Duck hunters also need to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp and receive HIP (Harvest Information Program) certification. HIP certification involves a brief survey of previous year’s hunting success and is conducted at the time licenses are purchased. Certification will be printed on the license. Lifetime license holders must also be HIP-certified and purchase the Federal Duck Stamp to hunt migratory birds. All other state stamp endorsements are included with a lifetime license.

There are other mandatory endorsements to consider at the time of purchase, too. An Upland Game Bird Stamp ($7) is required to hunt all non-migratory game birds, including turkey, quail, pheasant, chachalaca and lesser prairie chicken.

Of course, anyone who purchases the Super Combo license package, the best bang for the buck at $68, automatically gets these needed stamps. Sportsmen ages 65 and older qualify for a discounted Senior Super Combo for $32. Duck hunters will still need to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp.

Lifetime License Drawing

Hunters and anglers can also take care of their licensing requirements for life with the purchase of an $1,800 Lifetime Super Combo, or you can enter for a chance at winning a lifetime license through a special drawing. Entries for the Lifetime License Drawing cost $5 each and may be purchased wherever licenses are sold. There is no limit on the number of entries that may be purchased. Winners will be drawn on Dec. 30, 2011 and June 30, 2012. If you enter by Dec. 27, 2011, you will be eligible for both drawings.

Mandatory Hunter Education Certification

Hunter Education Certification is also required of any hunter born on or after Sept. 2, 1971 and who is at least 17 years old. For hunters who are unable to work in a hunter education course before hunting season for whatever reason, TPWD does offer a deferral option that allows people 17 years of age or older a one-time only extension to complete the state’s hunter education requirements. The individual must first purchase a hunting license and then may purchase the deferral option #166.

Hunters using the deferral must be accompanied by someone 17 years old or older also licensed to hunt in Texas. The accompanying individual must have completed hunter education or be exempt from the requirements (born before Sept. 2, 1971). The extension is good for one license year, by which time the person with the deferred option needs to complete a hunter education course.

This option is not available to those who have ever received a conviction or deferred adjudication for lack of hunter education certification. They still must take the course before going afield.

Big Time Texas Hunts

Also available through license agents and online are chances for TPWD’s Big Time Texas Hunts. The Big Time Texas Hunts program offers the opportunity to win one or more premium guided hunts with food and lodging provided, as well as taxidermy in some cases. The crown jewel of the program is the Texas Grand Slam hunt package, which includes four separate hunts for Texas’ most prized big game animals — the desert bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, mule deer and pronghorn antelope. There are several quality whitetail hunt packages available, as well as opportunities to pursue alligator, exotic big game, waterfowl and upland game birds.

Entries for the Big Time Texas Hunt drawings are $10 each and are available wherever hunting licenses are sold. They may also be purchased online at a discounted price of $9 each. There is no limit to the number of entries an individual may purchase, All proceeds from Big Time Texas Hunts benefit conservation, wildlife management and public hunting.

For information concerning the latest regulations and articles on hunting and fishing in Texas, check out the 2011-2012 Outdoor Annual available Sept. 1 in print and online. The online Annual also includes a format easily downloadable for use on smart phones for quick field reference.

November 22, 2010

As a kid did you hear: “Go outside and play?”

News Release
Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.state.tx.us 

Nov. 16, 2010

Texas Partnership for Children in Nature Calls For “Happier, Healthier, Smarter”
Statewide Conference Dec. 3-4 in Austin to Probe Problems, Solutions

AUSTIN — “Go outside and play.” How many times did today’s parents hear that
familiar phrase while growing up? Studies say kids today don’t hear it enough,
and that it’s time for a change.

Mobile devices and video games have all but replaced the days of playing “Kick
the Can” on neighborhood streets with friends, or just hanging out at a park all
day. In fact, kids today spend just four to seven minutes outside each day in
unstructured outdoor play (like climbing trees), yet more than seven hours each
day in front of an electronic screen.

“If we don’t address this issue today, then what we’re facing in the next
generation is that children will have a much shorter life span than their
parents,” said Dr. Kimberly Avila Edwards, a pediatrician at the Texas Center
for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity at Dell Children’s Medical
Center of Central Texas and chair of the Texas Pediatric Society obesity

Avila’s talking about the link between childhood obesity and sedentary indoor
lifestyles. She’s part of a growing chorus of expert voices from diverse
disciplines, all urging steps to reconnect kids and families with nature and the

The Texas Partnership for Children in Nature will host a conference to address
the problem Dec. 3-4 in Austin. The purpose is to present the partnership’s
strategic plan to educators, conservationists, health practitioners,
policymakers and others who care about the issue and can work to implement the
plan in their communities.

Conference speakers include Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
executive director; Joe Frost, Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin professor
emeritus; Kevin Coyle, National Wildlife Federation vice president of education;
Elizabeth Goodenough, Ph.D., creator of the PBS documentary Where Do the
Children Play?; and Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas vice
president and chief medical officer and former Texas Department of State Health
Services executive director.

“As the trend away from outdoor play and learning deepens, we are witnessing
sobering consequences for children’s health and well-being,” said TPWD’s Smith.
“Additionally, this youngest generation is missing out on critical experiences
that lay the foundation for future stewardship of our natural resources.”

The good news: experts say the problem is solvable. Unlike complex environmental
or economic problems, getting families and children back to nature is relatively
straightforward and inexpensive. “We can reverse this trend,” Smith said. “We
can restore our children’s well-being and their relationship with Texas’s rich
natural and cultural heritage.”

The partnership’s roots trace to fall 2009, when a bi-partisan group of Texas
legislators asked TPWD, the Texas Education Agency, Texas Department of State
Health Services and Texas Department of Agriculture to form a public-private
partnership and develop a strategic plan. Over 80 professionals answered the
call, including representatives from state and federal agencies, non-profits,
businesses, and health, education, natural resource and community organizations.

Their discoveries include some sobering statistics:

Children ages 8-to-18 spend an average of 7.5 hours a day, over 50 hours per
week, connected to a television, computer, video games and other electronic
A child is six times more likely to play a video game than ride a bike.
Texas is home to three of the five cities with the highest obesity rates in the
In the 2009-2010 Fitnessgram school year report, only a little over 8 percent of
12th grade girls and boys were deemed physically fit.
Today’s children may be the first generation at risk of having a shorter
lifespan than their parents.
Conversely, experts found children who play and learn in nature are:

Healthier. Active nature play improves physical conditioning and has a positive
effect on emotional well-being and child development. Outdoor play has been
linked to reduced risk of myopia and vitamin D deficiency.
Happier. Nature play increases self esteem and reduces stress. Children learn
self-discipline and are more cooperative with others. Children feel more
capable, confident and connected to nature.
Smarter. Nature play stimulates creativity and improves problem solving. Schools
using environmental themes report improved academic performance. And, children
who play in nature are more likely to become tomorrow’s conservation leaders.
Author Richard Louv coined the term “nature deficit disorder” to describe the
situation in his best-selling book “Last Child in the Woods” (Algonquin Books,
2005). While the term isn’t a medical diagnosis, it cites evidence of
psychological, physical and cognitive costs associated with the lack of outdoor

Experts have responded with practical solutions for parents and schools. For
example, the Texas Pediatric Society has developed a Childhood Obesity Toolkit
for health care providers that encourages limiting the time children spend on
TV, video games, and computers and promoting physical activity, including a
“healthy lifestyle prescription” that recommends an hour of outdoor play every

The National Wildlife Federation recently released a comprehensive report “Whole
Child: Developing Mind, Body and Spirit through Outdoor Play” that details how
the benefits of playing outside are essential to not only physical wellness, but
also mental health. The report notes family time can be a child’s best bet to
connect with nature.

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