From Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.
Tag, you’re busted: On Oct. 3, Terrell County Game Warden Saul Aguilar walked into the camp of a group of archery hunters. Focused on the skinning rack, Warden Aguilar worked his way over to review three properly tagged mule deer heads. As he made contact with the group to check hunting licenses, a more than generous hunter greeted him with everyone’s license in his hands. Identifying all but one of the hunters, Warden Aguilar decided to further discuss what she said was her first deer hunting experience. When she was unable to describe what type of equipment she had used, the warden separated husband and wife. After talking with the husband, Aguilar finally determined the husband had harvested both deer and used his wife’s tag to avoid using his only mule deer buck tag. Citation issued.
Gift of a lifetime: Antelope season has arrived in far West Texas. Hunters, families, and guides are wearing their jackets against the morning chill, and the summer rains have beautified the arid lands. Some nice bucks are being harvested and at least one youth has a huge smile. The 11-year-old boy was on his first big game hunt and took what might be the biggest antelope buck taken in Hudspeth County this year (87 4/8). It was made even more special because an adult hunter, who first spied the buck, unselfishly passed on his chance to take it and radioed for the young man to come to his location to give him his first chance at an antelope.
Watch for blood on your boots: Angelina County Game Warden Tim Walker received an Operation Game Thief call Oct. 5 about an archer witnessing two men dragging a doe while carrying a firearm. Unable to get to the area in time to make a case, Walker theorized that the violators would have to come to Zavalla to get ice. After a two-hour wait, Walker observed the reported vehicle drive through town and pull into the ice house parking lot. Warden Walker made contact with the violator, who denied everything, while standing there with blood on his boots. The other violator and deer were located later. Cases pending.
A 9mm will punch a hole in your tire: San Augustine County Game Warden Kevin Wilkinson was watching the edge of the Angelina National Forest on Oct. 6 when he observed a small white truck driving down the road. The truck accelerated and the driver began to rapidly discharge a firearm. Wilkinson followed the truck to a residence and talked with the driver, who ended up being charged with discharge of a firearm from a public road. A 9mm handgun was seized as evidence. While the driver was firing the handgun, he had also somehow managed to shoot the left front tire of his own truck. Case pending.
Bait catches hunters: Uvalde County Game Wardens Rachel Kellner and Javier Fuentes teamed up the first weekend of October to check dove hunters. The duo found two different groups exceeding their daily bag limit and seized approximately 70 birds. The wardens also located three hunters in a field baited with milo. Wardens wrote 31 citations throughout the weekend for violations such as exceeding daily bag limits, hunting migratory birds over bait, exceeding possession limit, unplugged shotgun, no hunting license, no migratory game bird stamp and no hunter education. Zavala County Game Warden Chris Stautzenberger and Frio County Game Warden Michael Morse filed on 12 hunters for hunting mourning dove in a baited area on a Zavala County ranch. The night before the cases were made, the ranch was checked for bait, and milo was found spread in numerous sections. Each hunter received a citation for hunting over a baited area. The landowner was filed on for placing the bait, and 317 mourning dove were seized.
Two pronghorn antelope hunters try to “buck” the system: On the morning of Oct. 3, opening weekend of pronghorn antelope season in the Panhandle, Ochiltree County Game Warden Mike Wheat and Floyd County Game Warden Mark Collins received information from a landowner regarding a possible poaching incident. According to the rancher, two individuals had disregarded an explicit verbal denial to hunt antelope on the caller’s property. Once located, the suspects were quizzed. Additionally, one trophy pronghorn antelope buck with no permit attached was located. After a brief interview, the primary suspect admitted he shot the antelope from a public roadway on property he had no permission or permit to hunt on and had no intention of tagging. Charges were filed, and the illegal antelope was removed from the suspect’s possession.
Dog or deer? Henderson County Game Warden Shawn Smith received information Oct. 2 that a man had just killed a deer out of gun season near the Cedar Creek area. Upon arrival, Warden Smith observed a man walking out of a barn. When asked about the deer, the subject said he had shot it with a .22 rifle from about 50 yards away thinking it was dog. Citations pending.
Jumping the gun…literally: Van Zandt County Game Warden Steve Stapleton received an Operation Game Thief call the night before opening day of bow season about a deer camp where the occupants were intending to gun hunt the next morning. Warden Stapleton was familiar with the camp and hid nearby that morning. A short time later a truck entered the camp with a dead deer draped over the tail gate. The truck stopped and the driver got out and cautiously walked back down the road. When he saw Stapleton approaching, the subject pitched his rifle into the brush and took off running back into the camp with the warden close behind. The subject grabbed the deer from the tailgate and took off running with it, later trying to hide it in a nearby creek. Unsure of where the subject went or who else was in the camp, Warden Stapleton took up a position back on a hill where he could see the camp and wait for backup. Before backup could arrive, the subject returned to camp and Stapleton apprehended him. Charges of evading arrest, waste of game, illegal means and methods, and no hunting license were filed.
Photo finish to trespassing case: Coryell County Game Warden Andrew Alexander and Hill County Game Warden Mark Hammonds responded to an in-progress Operation Game Thief call in McLennan County Oct. 2. The complainant had located a game camera on his property and downloaded the pictures. Though the suspects were in the pictures, the complainant was unable to identify them. However, the game wardens located the subjects on the property. They claimed they had been given permission three years ago, though they were never given a key. The subjects and their equipment were removed from the scene and citations issued.
What’s in your wallet? Erath County Game Warden Zach Havens and Somervell County Game Warden Joni Kuykendall patrolled Lake Granbury for water safety, fishing and duck hunting violations Oct. 3. Three subjects were contacted in a fishing camp as they were loading their car to leave. Despite having numerous fishing poles, all three subjects could not recall having done any fishing. When the wardens discovered a cleaning board covered with fish slime they recalled catching, cooking and eating a flathead catfish. Three citations issued for fishing without a license.
Tip to illegal dumpers: Don’t include your driver’s license in the trash: Travis County Game Warden Jeff Hill found more than a dozen bags of trash thrown into the brush along a remote county road on Oct. 3. The first bag he opened revealed a photocopy of the violator’s driver’s license and personal mail. When Hill contacted the subject to tell him he would be receiving a citation his response was, “I knew better than to do that and as soon as I get my tires aired up I’ll pick it up.” The trash was indeed picked up. Case pending.
What shotgun? Responding to a trespass and hunting violation in progress call on Oct. 2, Willacy County Game Warden Robbie Robinson saw a subject shooting from the access road of U.S. Highway 77 south of Sebastian. The subject was very close to an irrigation canal bridge. The warden turned around and ordered the subject to stop. But the subject continued back under the bridge in an attempt to hide. He also tossed his shotgun into the rushing water of the canal. Robinson then took the individual into custody, though the subject claimed he never had a weapon. Meanwhile, several friends of the shooter stood around watching and laughing. In an effort to refresh the man’s memory about firing from a roadway, the warden pointed out the spent shells on the ground and found several unused shells in the subject’s pockets. He also found a small bag of marijuana in the subject’s shirt pocket. The subject was issued numerous citations and released. The shotgun that was in the water belonged to one of the friends at the scene, the only one not laughing – other than the violator.