Game warden field notes

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

This is Hawkward

A Hardin County game warden was at the Beaumont District Office when he received a call from the manager of the local Office Depot store. The manager said they had a small hawk flying around inside the store and couldn’t get it to leave, even though they had the front and back roll-up doors open. The warden recruited a licensed falconer who was experienced in handling and trapping birds of prey to help him catch the hawk. After the falconer arrived on scene with a hawk trap and some live bait, they soon discovered that although the bird resembled a hawk, it was in fact a large nightjar or “nighthawk,” which feeds on insects, rendering the trap idea useless.  Undeterred, the warden and his falconer friend resorted to the old game warden standby — a ladder and a net.  After what resembled a scene from America’s Funniest Home Videos, they were able to finally corral the bird in a back hallway and catch it in the dip net.  It was released outside, where it flew off unharmed. The manager of the Office Depot store was very grateful that the bird was removed and would not be setting off the alarm system after closing.

Bad Idea, This is

A Hays County game warden received an image from a cellphone game camera showing a man and woman trespassing and digging an archeological Native American burial site on San Marcos River Foundation property. The warden went to the property and found the couple in a large hole previously dug by trespassers. Before the warden could say anything, the man stood up immediately and said he wasn’t digging for arrowheads and hates diggers. The couple were husband and wife out on a date. They were both detained in handcuffs and separated at the front and back of the warden’s vehicle. The man admitted that he had a glass pipe in his pocket that he uses to smoke CBD oils. After a quick examination, the Baby Yoda glass pipe revealed small, clear and white crystals that looked like crystal meth.  The warden placed the pipe on the hood and went to the back of the vehicle to speak with the woman. She said she didn’t know the property was private, despite walking past multiple no-trespassing signs. The warden then walked back to the front of the vehicle and noticed the pipe was no longer on the hood. The man said he didn’t know where the pipe went. Several feet in front of the vehicle, the pipe was found broken in half in the middle of a fresh footprint. Upon further examination of the hole where the couple was found, the warden found a small hand saw and freshly disturbed dirt. The woman’s purse contained several gray rubber gardening gloves, each containing four Native American artifacts. The San Marcos Police Department took the couple to the Hays County Jail. While en route to jail, the man said he believed he had the coronavirus. He leaned forward against the partition and aggressively coughed toward the officers. Both subjects were charged with criminal trespass and Antiquities Code violations. The husband was also charged with possession of a controlled substance, tampering with evidence and harassment of a public servant. Cases pending.

Fool Me Once

A Hays County game warden was contacted by a Hays County sheriff’s detective about trespassers digging for Native American artifacts on a private property in Buda. The landowner installed several game cameras hidden in trees to monitor the dig sites and caught a man, on two separate occasions, digging for artifacts during March and April 2019. The images were of high quality and showed the man’s face and unique tattoos on his arms. In March 2020, the warden assisted a special agent with the Bureau of Land Management with a federal case involving the removal and sale of Native American corpses/bones and sacred burial beads from an archeological burial site on the San Marcos River Foundation property. The warden shared game camera images of the Buda property trespasser with the agent, and the agent recognized the man as an associate of the suspect he was actively investigating. The agent provided the name, and the trespasser was identified. The warden and the agent interviewed the trespasser and confirmed his identity through his unique tattoos. The trespasser handed over 18 Native American artifacts that were taken from the Buda property. Arrest warrants were obtained for Antiquities Code violations and criminal trespass. The subject turned himself in. Cases pending.

The Scope of the Problem

A Freestone County game warden was contacted by a landowner who said he allowed a man to hunt feral hogs on his property but had killed a deer in addition to the hog. The landowner explained that while driving his property, he found a fresh hog carcass, along with a fresh white-tailed doe. The landowner asked the hunter what happened and was told that he “accidentally shot the doe when he was shooting at a hog.” The warden contacted the man, who admitted to shooting the doe, saying his “scope was off.” Charges include hunting a white-tailed deer in closed season, failing to take hunter education and hunting without a license.

Look Out Below

A Freestone County game warden arrested a suspect in an ongoing investigation that began in February relating to hog hunting from a helicopter. A husband and wife were working cattle on their property when a helicopter began to hover over their property and shoot feral hogs. The husband waved his arms at the helicopter and it flew off. After the investigation, it was clear that the helicopter owner did not have a landowner authorization permit for the property in question. Charges were filed for using an aircraft to manage wildlife without having a landowner authorization permit.

Fishing for Trouble

A Williamson County game warden was contacted by a retired law enforcement officer who was fishing the Dickerson River Bottom of the San Gabriel River in Circleville when he saw a man using a cast net and catching white bass. The retired officer said there was a group of six men, and one was using the cast net. When the warden arrived on scene, he saw the man catching white bass with a cast net, then give it to another fisherman to manually hook the fish in the mouth onto a stringer. The warden contacted the men and found that none of them had a fishing license. The man using the cast net caught 20 of the 25 fish on the stringer, two being undersized. Citations and civil restitution were filed, and the fish were donated to a needy family.

No Sale

A game warden was contacted about an Operation Game Thief incident in progress regarding an individual in Killeen selling crappie and catfish on a social media website. The warden located the post and found the seller’s address. After arriving at the seller’s location, the individuals admitted to the warden that they had been trying to sell the crappie and catfish they caught at Stillhouse Hollow Lake on social media for the last two days, but no one purchased them. The warden issued a citation for the sale of protected game fish and seized seven blue catfish, one yellow catfish and a bag of crappie meat. Case pending.

Fishy Business

A Harris County game warden was notified through a Facebook post of an individual selling crawfish and oysters from a truck. Contact was made with the seller at the location posted online, and when the warden arrived, a transaction was occurring. When asked whether the seller had current licenses, he said that he did and went toward his vehicle. After a few moments the warden realized the individual was taking too long to retrieve his paperwork and shortly thereafter the individual admitted to not possessing a commercial license. When the warden asked about the invoices for the product, the seller was only able to produce a receipt from the crawfish and was unable to produce any documentation for the two boxes of crab or the 11 sacks of oysters. The seller was issued the appropriate citations.

Spring Breaking the Law

A group of spring breakers celebrating their time off at a house in Concan decided to begin spring turkey season a little early. One March morning, a Uvalde County game warden was contacted by an individual who had seen several boys use turkey calls to call up a gobbler. One of the boys killed the turkey and retrieved it from the brush. The warden, along with a Real County game warden, arrived at the house and contacted the boys. When asked about the turkey, the guilty party readily cooperated, admitted what he had done and showed wardens where he had hidden the bird.

You Can’t See Me

A Karnes County game warden was on patrol when he noticed a deputy’s patrol vehicle on the side of the road near the San Antonio River bridge. The deputy approached the warden and told him that there was a truck that had been there for a short while without any occupants. The warden looked in the bed of the truck and found a fishing pole. The deputy and warden looked under the bridge and found two individuals fishing. They watched for a short time to make sure the individuals were both fishing before announcing their presence.  When the warden called out to the fishermen, the two individuals squatted down. The warden watched with his binoculars, and both men still didn’t move.  The warden called out to them again and told them to stand up. The two men then stood up and came to talk with him.  Neither of them had a fishing license and both were issued citations.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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