Robert Sloan Outdoors: You never know where you're going to find a game warden

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One of the wackiest things I’ve ever seen a game warden do was to crawl up a tree so he could see where three young squirrel hunters were heading after a successful hunt. Those hunters were two buddies and me. We were around 12 years old at the time. We had bagged five big fox squirrels on family land in Polk County not far from Lake Livingston. We saw the game warden coming down the tree. As we stood there in complete disbelief, he asks to see our squirrels, and we pulled them out of our game bags and couldn’t have been happier. That is until the man behind the badge informed us that we had opened the season a week early. We got tickets and the next day had to stand before a judge to pay fines and get our confiscated shotguns back.

You never know where a game warden is going to pop up. One thing is certain — a Texas game warden’s life is anything but boring. The following is a list of what wardens have been up to during the past few weeks from the Pineywoods to South Texas.

Two San Augustine County game wardens and a Forest Service ranger were using a decoy deer to deter night hunting, when a small car passed their location a couple of times, its occupants observing the decoy. Once the suspects located the “deer” with their headlights, the passenger fired a small-caliber rifle at the decoy. The wardens pursued the car and pulled it over. The suspects said they had shot the decoy with a .22 revolver that was stored in the glove box. However, the wardens saw no spent casings in the cylinder. After questioning, the driver admitted that they threw a rifle out of the window before they were stopped. After a quick search, a .22 rifle was found. The suspects were arrested and transported to the San Augustine County Jail.

While checking oyster boats in Galveston Bay, two Harris County game wardens encountered an oyster boat leaving a closed area. The wardens boarded the vessel and found seven sacks of oysters on the deck. The captain admitted to taking them from a closed area and the oysters were returned to the reef. The boat was then escorted to the dock and the captain was arrested for oystering in a restricted and closed area.

A game warden was fishing on the Neches River on his day off, when two people began fishing nearby. Soon after arriving, one of the individuals finished his energy drink and threw the can into the brush. The other caught a fish by snagging it in the back and threw it behind a tree so nobody would see it. The warden called another warden who was on duty to pass on the information. The on-duty warden arrived and discovered among other violations that neither individual had a fishing license. Numerous citations were issued.

A South Texas game warden received a call from a person who saw someone dump a dead feral hog in a ditch on the side of the road. A witness got the license plate number, so the warden picked up the hog and went to the suspect’s address. When he arrived, the warden showed the man the hog and asked him if he had “lost” the swine within the hour. The suspect admitted to dumping it. He was given a ticket, and had to dispose of the pig on his own property.

A Houston County game warden caught a subject cast netting white bass, crappie and catfish on the Trinity River. The warden watched the subject for more than an hour and saw that he would pick up his fishing pole every once in a while and then go back to cast netting. The subject’s father would put the legal size fish in a cooler on the riverbank and conceal the undersize fish in a bag and take them to their vehicle. They both got tickets.

A Williamson County game warden was off duty when he and his family heard a loud noise from outside their home. When he looked outside, he saw a set of vehicle headlights in a creek bed. The warden told his wife to call 911 while he grabbed a flashlight and went to investigate. When he got to the vehicle, a man was climbing out of the passenger’s side and a woman was sitting behind the wheel. The warden made sure everyone was OK and the man insisted that police should not be called. When asked why, his response was that he had priors and the woman was only 20 years old. Since these facts were irrelevant to the wreck, the warden asked him what he had inside the vehicle that he didn’t want the police to see. When he hesitated, the warden asked him how much marijuana was still in the vehicle since he could smell it. The man said he thought all the weed was gone, but asked the woman if any was left. She said, “I wish.” County deputies arrived and arrested the man for driving while intoxicated and possession of marijuana.

South Texas game wardens saw a vehicle weaving in and out of traffic and driving recklessly. When the wardens activated their emergency lights, the subject attempted to evade the officers by driving through a residential area and running numerous stop signs before stopping at a residence. The subject exited the vehicle and attempted to enter the residence, but she was detained and placed in handcuffs. A local K-9 unit arrived and alerted to the driver’s side door of the vehicle. Marijuana and a white powdery substance were found inside. The woman was transported to the county jail.

A Cherokee County game warden received a call from a landowner who suspected there was a poacher on his property after hearing three gunshots. A short time after the warden arrived, the subject was found in the middle of the property dressed in camouflage and carrying a .17-caliber rim fire rifle. The subject said he was lost, failing to mention that he had to climb an 8-foot fence to get to where he was apprehended. The subject was also found in possession of drug paraphernalia and was subsequently placed under arrest and transported to jail.