The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Warden law enforcement reports.
A Hunt County game warden responded to an emergency phone call from a woman in Delta County who said that her 85-year-old mother had driven an ATV off a steep embankment and into the Sulphur River. The woman explained that her mother and brother were still in the river and needed help quickly. Unsure of the exact location, the warden grabbed a rope, lifejacket and flashlights and headed into the dense woods where he located the family about a quarter mile away on the bank of the river. The elderly woman was not seriously injured but was exhausted and lying motionless at the water’s edge. Her son, however, was still in the water clinging to the muddy riverbank trying to keep his mother from sliding back into the water. The warden tossed his life jacket to the man in the river and pulled him ashore, then used his rope to wrap around the woman and the others to prevent anyone from sliding back into the river. Realizing that more help was needed, he ran back to his patrol truck and summoned the Commerce Fire Department responders to his location. It took the warden and other responders approximately 30 minutes to extract all the family members from the river channel. In the end, although bruised and exhausted, no family members required medical attention. The ATV was not recovered and remains at the bottom of the Sulphur River.
A Titus County game warden responded to a call from a ranch bordering the White Oak Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The hunting manager for the ranch stated he could hear what sounded like multiple ATVs, dogs and a cornered wild hog coming from deep within the WMA. This area of the WMA does not have an authorized ATV trail and the season for hunting hogs with dogs was closed. After checking the entrances to the WMA and finding no vehicles, he discovered the subjects were gaining access from private property. A group of five were located and issued numerous citations for having no Annual Public Hunting permit, hunting hogs with dogs during closed season on a WMA, Illegal operation of an ATV on a WMA – Not Handicapped and operating an ATV off of designated trails.
Prior to the South Zone dove season opener, game wardens responded to a call about hunters shooting doves in closed season. The wardens made their way to a field where the subjects were at and noticed seven freshly killed white-winged and mourning dove behind one of the hunter’s truck. As the wardens approached the subjects, one of them turned around and was holding a bird. Another quickly said the birds flew in front of the clay target skeet they were shooting at and that’s how they got shot. After talking with the subjects, three of them admitted to shooting the doves intentionally and that they were sorry. Multiple cases and civil restitution pending.
While out checking fisherman ahead of the South Zone dove season, game wardens heard what sounded like shotgun blasts close by. As the wardens worked their way toward the sound of the blasts they noticed two individuals riding in the back of a truck while trying to shoot birds. The wardens quickly made contact with the pair and noticed a freshly killed mourning dove and a common nighthawk. The wardens educated the subjects on the rules and regulations of hunting migratory game birds in closed season, hunting a protected species, hunting with unplugged shotguns, no hunting licenses and shooting from a vehicle. Multiple citations and civil restitution pending.
A flier in a store window in Omaha that read ‘Sulphur River Catfish for Sale’ caught the attention of a game warden, who called the number on the ad and set up a time and place for a buy. The subject was asking $5 per pound for the catfish, which were filleted and frozen. Dressed in civilian clothes, the warden met with the seller and identified himself to the subject. The subject said that he was going to call back the number from the call earlier in the morning to see if it was a Texas Parks and Wildlife number, but never got around to it. The man did not have the required licenses to catch and sell catfish and was issued a citation.
Texas game wardens saw plenty of activity during the opening weeks of dove hunting season, some good and some not so good. Here’s a roundup:
Throwing the book … Wharton County was full of hunters for opening weekend in the South Zone, however, the number of birds was down for the first time in over a decade. Wharton County game wardens welcomed the help of wardens in neighboring counties. Even with the birds scattered, 50 cases were filed for a variety of game law violations, including: no hunter education certification, hunting with unplugged shotguns (capacity is three shotshells for migratory game birds), no state migratory game bird endorsement, shooting from public roadway, trespass by projectile (shooting onto private property) and harvesting over the daily limit. All cases pending.
Know your limits … Atascosa County game wardens checked several dove hunters during the Special Whitewing season. Multiple cases were filed for no hunting license, exceeding the daily limit of mourning dove and other violations. A total of 39 mourning dove were seized from five hunters who did not adhere to the two mourning dove per person regulation.
Off to a good start … During the opening week in the Central Zone and the first two weekends of the Special Whitewing season, Bexar county wardens worked tirelessly to keep up with the crowds. All three of Texas’ dove hunting zones cross through Bexar County, which creates new excitement and opportunity for each opening day. During the Labor Day holiday weekend, Bexar County game wardens contacted over 300 people in county fields. Several citations and warnings were issued, but by far, the public was in compliance and most importantly wardens reported zero hunting accidents over the Labor Day weekend, which turned out to be five days of dove hunting.
Trail of evidence … Live Oak County game wardens were patrolling for dove hunters in the Special Whitewing Area when they located a recently hunted field. While walking the field, the wardens located three chairs, a hunting bucket and over 100 empty shotgun shells. Next to the bucket, wardens found two mourning dove and a white-winged dove that were obviously left from a prior evening hunt. The wardens made a visit to the hunting camp house on the property and although no hunters were present they did find two hunting vests containing dove and quail feathers and the carcasses of recently harvested birds in a trash bin at a cleaning station. After sorting through the carcasses and matching up wings, a total of 29 mourning dove, 3 whitewings and 3 bobwhite quail were counted. Several individuals were later interviewed and charges are pending for waste of game, no hunting license, exceeding the daily bag limit of mourning dove and hunting quail in closed season.
Big ticket item … Game wardens teamed up in La Salle County for the opening weekend of dove season and discovered several baited fields that resulted 36 citations and 11 warnings, along with confiscation of 490 dove, 1 bobwhite quail, 1 killdeer and 1 snipe.
Do the math … Texas game wardens were checking dove hunters in a field on the Concho and McCulloch County line when they came upon a gentleman standing behind a truck next to a pile of birds. The individual was in possession of 35 dove. The man informed wardens that only 12 were his and the rest belonged to the rest of the hunters in the field. Another man approached and claimed 15 of the birds. After contacting the other five hunters and learning that none of them had any birds on the tailgate of the truck, the warden returned to talk to the two men who did claim birds. The man that claimed the 15 birds admitted to taking the other eight dove. Chargers for exceeding the daily bag limit were filed, resources were seized and donated to a needy family. Case and restitution is pending.
Do the math, again … A Concho County game warden made contact with a dove hunter who had quit hunting 30 minutes before sunset and had killed 14 doves, one shy of a daily bag limit. Curious to why he had stopped at 14 the warden asked how many he had killed that morning. The man told him “three” and immediately realized the mistake he had made, admitting to harvesting 17 for the day. Charges were filed for exceeding the daily bag limit, two birds were seized and donated to a needy family. Case and restitution is pending.
Overtime and over limit … A Coleman County game warden was patrolling for dove hunters when he heard a group shoot well after sunset, the end of the legal hunting day for migratory game birds. The warden was able to get within 10 yards of the hunters undetected and watched them continue to shoot after sunset. The warden also discovered the hunters were over the daily bag limit as well. Cases were filed for over the limit and shooting past sunset.