Game Warden Field Notes
Last updated 7/28/2020 at 7:55pm
The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife law enforcement reports.
The Other Side of Nowhere
A Big Bend Ranch State Park Police Officer and a Presidio County game warden were patrolling River Road at night through Big Bend Ranch State Park when the officers noticed a car parked in the Closed Canyon Trail parking lot after the park closed. In the car, they saw a park pass for that day, a car rental agreement, a jug of water and snacks, but the driver was nowhere to be found. The Closed Canyon Trail is short and stops at the Rio Grande after several steep pour offs. The last pour off is about 60-feet tall. The officers hiked the trail in the dark and far as they could safely go and called out for anyone still down there with no luck. The next morning, another park police officer was informed about a possible lost hiker. He checked the parking lot and saw that the car was still parked there undisturbed. The three officers headed back to the Closed Canyon Trail that afternoon with rappelling equipment to search farther down the trail. When they reached the first of the three steep pour offs, the officer called out for the hiker who excitedly responded for help. The park police officer was able to rappel down to the hiker who had descended all the pour offs and was at the riverbank. When they reached him, the hiker was dehydrated, exhausted and had injured his ankle. The hiker told the officers that he had gone down the trail alone in the afternoon, fell into a deep-water hole and was unable to climb out. Panicked, he decided to continue down the trail thinking it would lead him back to the parking lot. Temperatures that day were around 106 degrees and he drank river water to try to keep hydrated. He hiked along the riverbank but was unable to navigate the steep canyon walls of Colorado Canyon. The officers requested a helicopter to help extract the hiker, but due to bad weather it wasn’t available until the next morning. So, with the help of an additional game warden, two state park rangers, a U.S. Border Patrol agent and a Presidio County Sherriff’s Deputy, the team of officers were able to assist the hiker to climb back over the pour offs and navigate the rest of the trail back to his car. Presidio and Terlingua Emergency Medical Services arrived and gave the hiker medical care and he was then taken to the local hospital for further treatment.
A Stephens County game warden received a 911 call from local dispatch involving four people who were stranded in the middle of the Hubbard Creek Reservoir and their boat had washed ashore. The caller was in the boat but was unable to get it started to reach the stranded swimmers. The caller had never been on the lake before and did not know where she was to give directions to the warden. One of the occupants had gotten into the water while the boat was floating in the middle of the lake to swim without a life jacket and the boat floated too far away for her to reach. Then, her husband, unable to crank the boat, jumped in the water and swam to her with a small ring buoy. The boat continued to float further away when another occupant on board saw the couple struggling in the water and swam out to them to assist with no lifejacket. By the time he reached them, the boat had tripled in distance from the original swimmer. A fourth occupant from the boat decided to swim out to the three simmers trying to stay afloat with life jackets for them, however, the boat was now about 350 yards away and he was unable to reach them. When the warden arrived, he was able to get the location of the boat and swimmers thanks to landmarks on the lake. The boat was located aground near an island and the three stranded swimmers were about 450 yards away. The swimmers were exhausted and panicked, but all accounted for. Once they were on the boat, they found the fourth swimmer who had multiple lifejackets attached to him but had exhausted himself trying to get to his friends. Everyone in the water was worn out and frightened, but safe and refused medical attention. Once they were accounted for, the warden helped them get their boat back to where they had launched.
Lost and Found
A recent game warden academy graduate was enjoying a weekend of camping and fishing at Fayette Lake before reporting to his first duty station later this month in Starr County. One Sunday morning, the new game warden came across a small aluminum boat that was abandoned at the dam. He called local dispatch and gave them the boat registration numbers, then towed it back to the Oak Thicket boat ramp and secured it. When the local game warden arrived, a park worker told him that a boat had been stolen during the night from one of the campers. After talking to the campers, it became apparent their missing boat was the same one the new game warden had found on the other side of the lake that morning. The campers were overjoyed and grateful for the recovery of their boat.
Does Your Mother Know That You’re Out?
While patrolling the Sabine River late one night, a Gregg County game warden and an Upshur County game warden saw two individuals fishing near a public boat ramp. When the wardens made contact, they noticed one of the individuals grew visibly irritated and evasive. Fictitious information was offered to the wardens as local law enforcement arrived to assist. The subject was placed in handcuffs for safety precautions. Once in handcuffs the individual began complying with the officers and provided their real identification information. Concealed drug paraphernalia was later found in the subject’s underwear. It was later discovered that the individual was evading a felony parole warrant for injury to a child. The subject’s parents arrived to assist and thanked the wardens for helping them regain some control of their child. The subject was released to another agency, who transported them to the Gregg County jail. Additional charges pending investigation.
Linked by Ink
Two Liberty County game wardens completed an investigation that began in mid-February of this year when they were notified about some potential hunting without landowner consent. A hunting lease member contacted the wardens when they captured a picture of a man on their game camera and on their property without permission. The picture was clear enough to see the very distinctive tattoos the man had. After a few weeks of talking to local residents, the wardens were able to identify the name of a possible suspect. They ran the name through the Liberty County Sheriff’s Department to check for priors and they discovered that he had been through the system and they had pictures of his tattoos on record. After a quick comparison of the tattoos, the wardens had enough probable cause to get an arrest warrant for the suspect. He was soon arrested on the Class “A” Misdemeanor charge of Hunting Without Landowner Consent and a brief interview was conducted at the Sheriff’s department. During the interview, the suspect admitted to the crime. Case pending.
A Lubbock County game warden was travelling to Buffalo Springs Lake when he came across a group of five young men shooting skeet on a county road. While approaching the group, he noticed numerous empty shell casings on the road. When the warden questioned the group about what they were doing, one of the individuals admitted they were skeet shooting, but did not know the owner of the field they were shooting across and into. At one point, a family member of one of the young men became frustrated and said, “we have done this for years.” Citations were issued to the individuals for Discharge of Firearm on Public Roadway and Trespass by Projectile.