Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

December 27, 2015

Texas Game Warden Field Notes -December 2015

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 10:00 am
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Game Warden Field Notes

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

Working on Our Way Home
As two Bowie County game wardens were on their way home just after midnight, they saw a man staggering down the street. The wardens watched the man walk up to a church door and try to open it, then sit down on the church’s front steps and begin to smoke what smelled like marijuana. When the man noticed the wardens walking toward him, he stood up and tried to throw away a bag of marijuana. He also tried to run, but was too intoxicated and didn’t get far before the wardens took him into custody without incident. They arrested him for public intoxication, possession of marijuana under two ounces and possession of drug paraphernalia.

How Hawkward
As a Van Zandt County game warden and a Fannin County game warden checked bow hunters in Van Zandt County, they got a call for assistance from the Sheriff’s Office. Upon arriving at the scene, the wardens found sheriff’s deputies had detained a man on warrants out of Van Zandt County. They also saw something interesting hidden in the man’s vehicle: a sharp shinned hawk in a bucket covered with blankets. When the wardens questioned the man about the hawk, he admitted to shooting it that morning with a 12 gauge shotgun. The man said he was on his way to dump the bird when he was pulled over. The wardens booked the man into the county jail on his outstanding warrants, with an additional charge of possessing a raptor.

That’s a Lot of Illegal Stuff for One Backpack
As several game wardens worked the Brushy Creek area of Hunt County, they noticed a suspicious vehicle moving slowly through a field. They followed it before initiating a traffic stop. The driver exited and appeared to toss something back into the vehicle. After detaining the driver, the wardens searched the vehicle and found a backpack with a handgun, jewelry, narcotics distribution supplies, drug paraphernalia, counterfeit money and about 10 grams of what appeared to be crystal meth inside. The wardens arrested the driver, and the case is pending.

Widespread Stealer
A Fannin County game warden received information from a landowner about the theft of several ATVs and other equipment from a nearby hunting lodge. The warden found the suspect and obtained a search warrant for his home, where he and other law enforcement officers found over $350,000 in stolen equipment, including trailers, tools, guns, a tractor and a semi-truck. The man living at the house gave investigators a full confession that cleared numerous theft cases from all over Northeast Texas. During this investigation, the warden gathered valuable information that will help him recover additional stolen property.

Friends Who Steal Together Get Arrested Together
A Grayson County game warden received a call from a Lake Texoma Corps of Engineers Ranger about three suspects catching striped bass with a cast net in the Red River below the Denison Dam. The warden responded to the scene while the ranger continued to monitor the fishermen. Upon arriving at the scene, the warden noticed one man with the cast net was catching the fish while the other two men, on the bank with fishing poles, were taking the fish from the net and putting them into a cooler or on a stringer. When the warden contacted the men, he found 39 striped bass in their possession. After inspecting the fish, the warden found that none of them had hook marks in their mouths. The warden arrested the men, who did not have any valid identification, for taking game fish by illegal means and for exceeding the daily bag limit.

Laid to Waste
After a man who found three deer and two raccoons dead on a county road posted a picture of the animals on Facebook, two Lamar County game wardens received several calls about it. The deer had their back straps and tenderloins removed. The wardens were able to locate three men who were involved in the poaching. As the wardens pulled up to their house, the men were cleaning the deer blood and hair out of the bed of their truck. After the wardens interviewed them, the three men confessed to killing the deer while “riding the back roads” the previous night. Class A waste of game cases are pending the District Attorney’s approval.

Drinking and Rolling
As a Bowie County game warden was conducting his daily patrols, he heard county dispatch advise of a one-vehicle rollover accident. The vehicle was on fire and a person was trapped inside. The warden responded to the scene, along with a police officer and a DPS trooper. The police officer used a fire extinguisher to put out flames coming from around the engine compartment while the warden and trooper broke a rear window and unlocked the rear passenger door. They were then able to open the door and get to the driver, who was lying on the roof of the vehicle with her feet up on the dashboard. The driver was confused and didn’t seem to realize her vehicle was on fire. The warden slid into the back of the vehicle and pulled the woman out of the car. The woman suffered minor injuries and refused treatment from EMS. After questioning, she was arrested for driving while intoxicated.

That’s My Gun!
Several archery hunters, who had experienced recent theft issues on their property, heard an ATV approaching their area. They stopped the ATV and requested the driver to dismount with raised hands. As he complied, one of the hunters, who is a retired FBI agent, observed a handgun in the suspect’s waistband. After disarming the suspect, the retired officer realized the weapon he had just retrieved from the suspect was his own, which had been stolen a month earlier. After the hunters called them to the scene, a Freestone County game warden and the Freestone County sheriff’s deputy recovered a stolen ATV, a generator, ATV ramps, a firearm and a number of hunting related items from the nearby woods.

Stole One Too Many Alligators
A landowner agent for the Honeywell plant in Orange contacted an Orange County game warden about a nuisance control permittee taking too many nuisance alligators from their facility. The warden’s investigation found 21 alligators, ranging from a hatchling to nearly nine feet long, taken illegally over two days. The nuisance control permittee pleaded guilty to four counts of taking illegal nuisance alligators. Nearly $5,000 in restitution is pending.

You’ll Want to Watch Out for Those Game Wardens
While a Montgomery County game warden was on his way to a possible deer poaching scene, a white SUV forced him to veer to the right, striking a mailbox with his passenger side mirror, to avoid a collision. After following the vehicle throughout the neighborhood, the warden saw the vehicle drive slowly past areas of the neighborhood where deer congregate. The vehicle pulled into the neighborhood’s swimming pool parking lot, where the warden contacted the driver for his suspicious actions. Immediately upon approaching the driver’s window, the warden smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle. After a consensual search, the warden found a small amount of marijuana inside the vehicle. The driver and his passenger admitted to smoking the marijuana and drinking beers while driving around the neighborhood. The warden arrested the driver for driving while intoxicated after he failed field sobriety tests. The warden arrested both men for possessing marijuana.

“Thump, thump, thump” from the Trunk
Two Comal County game wardens responded to a call for assistance from a Garden Ridge police officer who had stopped a vehicle for running a stop sign. During the traffic stop, the officer saw a .22 caliber rifle, a .40 caliber pistol and spent shell casings inside the vehicle. While interviewing the occupants in the backseat of the car, the officer heard several thumps coming from the trunk. When he opened the trunk, the officer found a white-tailed deer that had been shot but was still alive. The officer then called the warden. The vehicle occupants told the warden they shot the deer at about 11:30 p.m. while it stood in the street near a residential area. The warden arrested two of the suspects for hunting deer at night and charged the vehicle operator for unlawfully carrying a weapon. While booking the suspects at the jail, the warden overheard one of them comment to the other he couldn’t believe they got in so much trouble for killing a deer. The other suspect replied, “Yeah, but it sure woulda been good eatin’.”

His Dogs Would Not Allow It
After observing a vehicle swerve and run off the roadway, a game warden initiated a traffic stop. The warden walked to the driver’s side window, where he was greeted by three barking pit bulls. The warden asked the driver for his consent to search the vehicle, and the driver replied that his dogs would not allow it. The warden asked the driver to get out of the car and had him perform field sobriety tests, which the driver failed. After arresting the driver, the warden called animal control to remove the dogs from the vehicle. Once the vehicle was clear, the warden found marijuana, a marijuana pipe and both full and empty beer cans. The man was charged with driving while intoxicated, possession of marijuana and unlawful carry of a firearm.

October 29, 2015

Outlaw Road Hunters

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 10:42 am
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Texas Game Wardens, Leon County Sheriff’s Office Put Stop to Mass Poaching Rampage

Outlaw Road Hunters Used Suppressor to Mask Wildlife Carnage

AUSTIN – A three-month-long outlaw road hunting rampage in Leon County this summer that state game wardens are categorizing as one of the most egregious poaching cases on record in Texas has come to an end.

Four adults and two juveniles are facing more than 175 state jail felony and Class A misdemeanor wildlife violations stemming from a surreal chain of poaching events between June 4 and August 29. While investigators suspect the toll on wildlife and property is likely greater, the suspects have been charged in the illegal killing of at least 68 white-tailed deer, numerous other wildlife species and livestock, and the indiscriminate and widespread destruction of public and private property.

The group is alleged to have used various firearms at night to shoot wildlife, livestock and property from a motor vehicle on a public roadway and on private property without landowner consent. Game wardens confiscated nine firearms ranging from .17 HMR to .270, including a .22 rimfire rifle fitted with a homemade suppressor.

The majority of the deer shot illegally were scattered from Jewett, in northwestern Leon County, to Leona, located in southeastern Leon County. Centerville was a midpoint between the two outlying communities and was nearest the majority of the wildlife violations, with more than a dozen deer shot from the feeder road along I-45 alone.

While some of the deer killed had portions of the carcasses retained by the suspects for consumption – loins and hindquarters – most were simply left to rot in the field. In addition to deer, the suspects purportedly shot numerous other animals from a motor vehicle on a public road, including: vultures, squirrels, foxes, feral hogs, doves, ducks, cormorants, blue herons, alligators, white egrets, armadillos and raccoons.

“This investigation represents one of, if not the most egregious poaching cases I am aware of in my 41 years in law enforcement,” said Col. Craig Hunter, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Law Enforcement Director. “I am extremely proud of the strong relationship between our game wardens, the Leon County Sherriff’s Office, and local landowners. Simply put, open communication is the cornerstone of solid police work and without great interagency cooperation this investigation would not have been a success.”

In addition to poaching wildlife, the violators also allegedly were involved in more than a dozen burglaries, mostly hunting cabins, according to Sgt. Brian Stafford with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, which is also investigating numerous other illegal activities believed to be related. Those acts include the shooting of a plate glass window at a service station, repeated shooting of a pickup parked at a residence, target shooting numerous road signs and residential mailboxes, along with several house cats. Additionally, they are being charged with shooting and killing five cows and hacking to death a sixth cow with a machete.

“This reprehensible and senseless killing spree has absolutely no resemblance to hunting, and I know sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts everywhere will be appalled to learn of this thoughtless waste of life,” said Carter Smith, TPWD Executive Director. “It is fitting to see these violators brought to justice, thanks to an observant landowner who provided the initial tip and the diligent work of our Texas Game Wardens working with the sheriff’s office.”

Despite the atrocities committed over the course of the summer, investigators are baffled at how little attention the suspects’ actions drew. Had it not been for a phone call on September 1 from a concerned citizen who reported a deer had been poached, the investigation might not ever have gotten off the ground.

“It amazes me that over a three-month period these young men likely fired hundreds of rounds of ammo, most of which were at night and in various locations, and no one reported gunshots or suspicious activity until September,” said supervising game warden Capt. Mike Hanson. “Not a single call.”

Some landowners interviewed during the investigation told game wardens they recalled hearing gunshots at night, but dismissed them as feral hog hunters. Hog hunting at night is legal year-round in Texas, with landowner consent and a valid Texas hunting license. Deer hunting at night or from a vehicle on a public roadway is not legal at any time.

Shooting up road signs, storefront windows, pickup trucks and mailboxes, among other things, is also not legal. State game wardens worked closely in the investigation with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, which was also putting together penal code violations against the suspects, to piece together what was happening along the roadways at the hands of these individuals.

“The danger that the violators placed the public in, the sheer number of violations committed and the fact that they had little or no fear of being caught really stands out in my mind,” said Hanson. “From a wildlife enforcement point of view, I hope this case raises public awareness and convinces people to work with and inform their local law enforcement to prevent situations like this from happening in the future.”

Hanson noted ironically a sign on Highway 7 in downtown Centerville reads “REPORT POACHING-CALL GAME WARDEN.” Surprisingly, this group did not shoot that sign…one of the few things they did not shoot.

May 17, 2015

Expensive Alligator

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 11:10 am
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Texas Game Wardens Arrest Two Killeen Men in Alligator Death

TEMPLE, Texas – A Texas Game Warden investigation sparked by social media posts on Facebook detailing the killing of an 11-foot alligator has resulted in the arrests of two Killeen men.

Texas Game Wardens today arrested Bradley Gillis, 26, and James Haff, 33, on Class A misdemeanor charges for taking wildlife resources without landowner consent. The pair was booked into the Bell County Jail. Bond was set at $7,500 each.

Game wardens in Bell County learned about the killing of a large alligator along the Lampasas River above Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir earlier in the week, including alleged details and photos on Facebook. Wardens then used the same social media outlet to solicit information from the public. The game warden Facebook post garnered statewide news media attention, as well as numerous tips from the public that helped in the investigation.

Alligators have been observed in the Lampasas River above Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir for many years and reports of illegal harvest or documented dangerous interactions with the recreating public or local livestock have been extremely rare.

Alligators may be taken in Texas on private property only during the April 1-June 30 open season outside a 22-county core area in southeast Texas. Alligators may be taken from public waters adjacent to private land by all lawful means except firearms; however, the person taking the alligator and the taking device must be on private property. State law requires that if a person wants to engage in alligator hunting, they must be licensed, have prior landowner permission and a tag must be purchased upon harvest.


May 15, 2015

Gar Fishing on Trinity River

TPWD Temporarily Closes Alligator Gar Fishing in Trinity River Downstream of Dallas

AUSTIN — Due to flooding conditions on the Trinity River, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is temporarily prohibiting fishing for alligator gar in portions of the river between the Highway 31 Bridge near Trinidad and the Highway 7 Bridge near Crockett.

TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith issued the emergency order on Tuesday, May 12, to temporarily prohibit taking or attempting to take alligator gar in order to protect spawning alligator gar, which is a species of conservation concern in the Trinity River. The order takes effect immediately and will remain in effect for not more than 30 days and can be rescinded before that date if conditions warrant. While the order is in effect, anglers cannot fish for or harvest alligator gar in the Trinity River and flooded backwaters in the reach of the river specified above.

The temporary prohibition does not affect alligator gar fishing in parts of the state other than those areas of the Trinity River detailed above.

Department staff has been monitoring water conditions this spring for indications of conditions that normally trigger spawning by alligator gar. Water conditions targeted by staff, such as water temperature above 68degrees F and presence of a flood level at the moderate stage as reported by U.S. Geological Survey gauges http://www.srh.noaa.gov/wgrfc/ are currently occurring.

Typically, alligator gar do not spawn every year. Research data indicate alligator gar in Texas have the greatest chance at spawning successfully if the creation of preferred spawning habitat (the seasonal inundation of low-lying areas of vegetation) occurs in late spring through early summer. Because the conditions for spawning do not exist on a regular basis, and because spawning occurs in shallow waters where numerous gar can be concentrated in one area, alligator gar are extremely vulnerable to harvest during spawning.

The TPW Commission in 2009 adopted a daily bag limit of one alligator gar per person, which was intended to protect adult fish while allowing limited harvest, thus ensuring population stability. This action was taken to protect alligator gar populations in Texas, as Texas is one of the last remaining strongholds for the species in the U. S. Since 2009, the department has been conducting research to determine the estimated harvest of alligator gar, quantify reproduction, understand habitat usage and determine geographic differences in populations.


January 20, 2015

Game Warden Field Notes – 12-07-2014

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

  • Missed a Spot
    When a landowner in Red River County heard gunshots near his property, he called his local game warden for help. The warden searched several deer camps and found evidence of blood at an unoccupied camp. There, the warden observed that the hunter had made an effort to rake up the remaining debris and place it in a nearby burn barrel. When the warden located the hunter, he had power-washed his vehicle in an attempt to remove blood evidence. After questioning, the hunter admitted to shooting an 11-point buck with his .30-.30 rifle during archery season. Case pending.
  • If At First You Don’t Succeed…
    A Titus County game warden received a call from a hunter about a trespasser on a nearby ranch. The hunter approached the trespasser and attempted to escort him off of the property, but the trespasser refused and continued across the ranch. The hunter then took video and photos of the male suspect, who was later identified and arrested for Class B criminal trespass and an active felony warrant from the neighboring county.
  • Who Let the Drugs Out?
    Two game wardens from Gregg and Upshur County were conducting surveillance near their county line when they observed an individual stop near their location and collect a whitetail buck from the roadway. The subject became increasingly irritable and uncooperative after contact was made. When consent to search was given, the wardens located multiple containers of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, suspected meth lab components and an illegal firearm. The subject was arrested for manufacture or deliver of controlled substance and unlawful carry of firearm. Additional charges and cases pending.
  • Dude, Where’s My Boat?
    A Jefferson County game warden responded to a call about a possible stolen boat and motor recovered from the Neches River. When the boat was towed in and contact was made with the owner, he said he had gotten hung up on a pipe and left his boat. When he returned, he discovered it was missing. The value of the recovery was estimated at $15,000.
  • “I’m Sure Glad to See You”
    As a Real County game warden pulled into a hunting camp to check for hunting violations, he was greeted by a hunter who said, “I’m sure glad to see you.” When the warden asked why, the hunter replied, “Seeing you reminds me that I have to put my tag on my deer.” The deer was already quartered in the ice chest and the cape in a trash bag. The hunter was cited for possession of untagged deer. Case is pending.
  • Oh Deer
    Two Bandera County game wardens and one Uvalde County warden responded to information about a few deer that had been illegally taken. At the residence, the wardens located meat from a freshly killed whitetail deer. During the investigation, it was learned that two 17-year-old males had killed one whitetail deer with a bow from a public road that night and also killed another whitetail deer by running it over with a truck a few nights earlier. The Uvalde County game warden obtained written statements from both suspects, and multiple charges have been filed.
  • Darkness Falls
    While a Hill County warden was patrolling Aquilla Lake for illegal hunting activity, he noticed a boat returning without running lights. As the warden performed a water safety inspection and license check, one of the hunters said he had left his license at his residence. When asked why he wasn’t displaying his running lights, the hunter said the lights had broken while traveling to the lake. The warden found that the vehicle and trailer registrations were expired, so citations were issued for failing to produce a resident hunting license and no running lights on a vessel while underway. A warning was also given for the expired registrations. Cases pending.
  • The Duping Deer Dumper
    A McCulloch County game warden received a call that a deer carcass had been dumped in the middle of a street in downtown Brady. A police officer removed the deer from the street and relayed to dispatch the name on the permit attached to the deer. Before the warden arrived, a bystander reported that someone jumped out of a dark-colored sedan, removed the tag and drove off, leaving the deer at the curb. Using the name that was reported, the warden traced the deer to a local property owner who informed the warden that he had donated the deer. The following morning, the warden went to the suspects’ place of employment. The individual admitted to dumping the deer and then returning later to remove the tag.
  • Scared Fishless
    Two Travis County game wardens were checking a known fishing area that has issues with trespassers. As the wardens approached the fishing tank, a male subject saw their truck, which he later said he thought was the landowner, and took off running into the wooded area. One of the wardens then requested assistance from a third Travis County game warden and K9 partner Ruger to track for the evading trespasser. Also deployed was a fourth Travis County warden who was positioned across the wooded area, which was the subject’s most probable path of escape. K9 Ruger tracked the male subject and assisted with flushing him out of the wooded area, where the game warden was in a position to observe the male cross the river and quickly take him into custody. The male subject told the wardens that he had placed his shirt along the river and hidden his fishing poles. Ruger was deployed for an article search and recovered the items. The subject was filed on for criminal trespass and fishing without a valid fishing license. Cases pending.
  • Baited and Booked
    A Cameron County game warden received notification of an individual offering protected fish and shrimp for sale. He made contact with the seller and arranged to buy some fish. The Cameron County sergeant met with the seller at a public parking lot and negotiated the buy of several spotted seatrout and a few bags of gulf shrimp for $100. Shortly after the sale, the Cameron County game warden along with a warden from Hidalgo County were on scene and apprehended the subject. The following were seized: 29 spotted seatrout, of which 26 were undersized; 20 black drum; 28 gallon-size bags of gulf shrimp; and two gallon-size bags of squid. Multiple charges filed.

October 21, 2014

TPWD Reminds Hunters about Proper Deer Carcass Disposal

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 7:16 am
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AUSTIN – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reminds hunters throughout the state to properly dispose of carcasses from harvested deer to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases in deer. This is particularly important for harvested mule deer taken inside the Chronic Wasting Disease Containment Zone, which covers portions of Hudspeth and El Paso counties, and the surrounding High Risk Zone.

“Because many hunters process their own deer, they are key players in slowing the spread of diseases such as CWD,” said Ryan Schoeneberg, Big Game Program Specialist with TPWD. “One possible way that disease can spread is by the transportation and improper disposal of carcass parts.”

Deer can become infected with CWD if they come into contact with other infected deer or an environment contaminated with CWD prions. While CWD prions are found ubiquitously throughout the body of an infected deer, they are known to accumulate in the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, and lymph nodes.

CWD was first found in Texas in Hudspeth and El Paso counties two years ago and the disease appears to be limited to those remote areas thanks in large part to hunter diligence, restricting unnatural movement of deer, and ongoing measures to monitor and sample for evidence of the disease.

Hunters who harvest deer in the Containment Zone are required to present the unfrozen head of the deer to a designated check station within 24 hours of take in order to have tissue samples removed for CWD testing. Additionally, hunters in this area should not take whole deer carcasses out of the Containment Zone, or carcass parts that contain brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, or lymph nodes, according to Shawn Gray, mule deer program leader for TPWD. “We recommend hunters in the Containment Zone and High Risk Zone quarter deer in the field and leave all but the quarters, backstraps and head at the site of harvest, if it is not possible to bury the inedible carcass parts on the ranch or take them to a landfill.”

Hunters are urged to follow these safe handling recommendations:

Proper Carcass Disposal

  • Avoid cutting through bones, spine, or brain when processing deer carcasses.
  • Remove meat in the field and leave the carcass behind. Bury it if possible.
  • If processing harvested deer in camp or at home, place carcass parts in trash bags and properly dispose of them through a trash service or landfill.
  • Take harvested deer to a licensed commercial processor to assure proper carcass disposal.
  • For taxidermy work, use a licensed taxidermist to assure proper carcass disposal.

Safe Parts to Transport

  • Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spine or head attached,
  • Hides or capes from which all excess tissue has been removed,
  • Antlers, including antlers attached to skull plates or skulls cleaned of all muscle and brain tissue.

For more information visit: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/diseases/cwd/

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