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Texas Game Warden Field Notes

A Shot in the Dark

A game warden received a call on Aug. 6 about a man in Titus County who had accidentally shot himself while out on his deer lease preparing for the upcoming hunting season. The man was driving his side by side UTV back to the house around 9 p.m. the previous night when the accident occurred. A battery on the seat next to the victim fell into the floorboard. In the dark the man reached for what he thought was his spotlight to try and locate the battery. The man mentioned that the grip of the spotlight and his Glock Model 22 have the same feel. Instead of pulling the switch to his spotlight, the man pulled the trigger on his handgun, discharging a round into his upper leg. The man was able to drive to the house and then make a 25-minute drive to the hospital. An investigation concluded the man suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Doctors said the bullet missed bone and major arteries and the man was discharged from the hospital with no complications. He is expected to make a full recovery.

We Charge a Rehoming Fee

On July 22, Harris County game wardens found a posting on the “Offer Up” app advertising a “toy” alligator for sale with a winky face ;). The seller was contacted by game wardens posing as an out of town rancher wanting a gator for his private pond and asked if his ranch hand could come pick it up. The wardens set a time and place to meet. The suspect was surprised to find out the rancher and ranch hand were wardens. Charges were filed.

Look Before You Leap

Tarrant County game wardens patrolling Lake Grapevine on July 21 noticed an unusual clustering of people close to the water’s edge below a 25 foot cliff. Seems a middle-aged man had jumped from the cliff into what he thought was 10-12 feet of water that turned out to only be 2 feet deep. The leap resulted in a compound fracture of his lower leg. The wardens contacted local EMS, enlisted the help of some of the bystanders to stabilize the leg, and loaded the injured man onto their patrol vessel. The wardens then transported the man to a location where EMS could make a safe and speedy transfer. The wardens stayed with two juvenile boys who were with the injured man until a parent could be located. Alcohol played a factor in the incident.

Not Your Sign

On June 24, a Pecos County game warden was checking public access points to the Pecos River. The warden parked his patrol vehicle near a bridge crossing the river and walked underneath it to check out the area. While under the bridge the warden heard the sound of metal being cut with a power tool. As he made his way back up to the bridge the warden observed two men; one served as a lookout while the other used a right angle grinder to try to cut down a road sign marking the Crockett County line. After being caught in the act, the subject doing the cutting admitted he was trying to take the sign because “my last name is Crockett and I thought it would be cool to have the sign.” The individual was charged with criminal mischief, a Class B misdemeanor, subsequently pled guilty and received six months’ probation.

Holy King Mackerel

On July 14, game wardens in Brazoria County investigating an Operation Game Thief crimestoppers call about a violation of over the daily bag/possession limit of king mackerel made a shocking discovery. The tipster claimed a group of five was stockpiling king mackerel in a boat storage facility in Freeport. Armed with description of the suspects’ vehicles and boats, wardens began checking vessels near the Freeport Jetties and came across a boat that fit the description. The occupants were in possession of king mackerel in excess of the daily limit, and while escorting them back to the boat ramp, the wardens made contact with the other culprits. The suspects were brought to the commercial boat storage, where wardens gained access to a unit that contained 30 king mackerel stuffed into a freezer, in addition to the 16 king mackerel the five fisherman had on board both vessels. After lengthy interviews, several citations were written to the five individuals for exceeding their possession limit of king mackerel. The cases and civil restitution are pending.

Caught Red-Handed

Cameron County game wardens received a call from South Padre Police Department stating they had come across an ice chest full of red snapper during a traffic stop and believed the occupants to be over their possession limit. Contact was made with the three individuals and consent was given to inspect the fish. The story given was inconsistent between the three individuals, who claimed they got the fish from friends, but could not produce any proof. Although they had been out on a fishing trip all day with the unnamed sources, they had taken no photos of the others onboard. A bag count showed the group was 16 red snapper over their daily bag limits, including two undersized fish. All three individuals received citations with restitution. The fish were donated to the public.