Buck fever can cost you big bucks

The power of deer, like this trophy class buck in velvet, can sometimes overpowe

Although most deer hunters abide by the rules of fair chase, there are always a few outlaws that can’t play by the rules. A good example is what recently happened in East Texas.

A Henderson County game warden received a call from a pump technician who was checking well sites. He had seen a man dragging a deer off private property to a nearby wooded area. When the hunter noticed the pump technician, he ran to a nearby house and jumped into a truck and sped off. The warden arrived at the house and talked to a woman who lived there. She said her husband just left for town to buy tractor parts. When the man returned to his house a few minutes later, he denied hunting or being on the private property. However, he then said he shot a buck on his property, but the buck jumped the fence to the private property, so he simply went to retrieve it. After the warden questioned him some more, the man confessed to shooting the deer on the private property. He said he got scared when he saw the pump technician, so he left quickly to buy a hunting license in case a game warden showed up.

$14,000 worth of venison

Every season, game wardens come across successful deer hunters that conveniently forgot to buy a license. Such was the situation when wardens checked a group of hunters in Matagorda County.

When two game wardens entered a deer camp to check hunters, they noticed a deer hanging from the bucket of a tractor. The three hunters in the camp, all from out of state, admitted to taking several deer, even though none of them had hunting licenses.

Further inspection of the camp revealed eight more quartered whitetail deer in three coolers and six buck heads that all measured less than the required 13-inch minimum inside spread. These outlaw hunters were charged with hunting without a valid non-resident hunting license, taking illegal bucks and possession of whitetail deer with proof of sex removed. The wardens transported all three hunters to meet with the local Justice of the Peace, who received a guilty plea from each hunter. The hunters were fined about $6,000 and owe an additional $8,000 in civil restitution. The venison was donated to local charities.

Thou shall not spotlight deer

Any hunter with half a lick of sense knows that it’s illegal to spotlight deer, whether hunting with a gun or bow. But there are still a few quarter-lickers out there. An East Texas game warden was patrolling a neighborhood still under development when he saw two trucks using their headlights to spotlight deer off the road. The warden let the trucks get close to his location, where a few deer were feeding next to him, and saw one occupant shoot at a deer with a crossbow. The warden then pulled both vehicles over and found two guys in one truck, both with crossbows, and another in the other truck, with his own crossbow. During the warden’s investigation, he found the suspects had tree stands and deer feeders in place along the road, all without the landowner’s consent. Trespassing is also against the law. A number of charges were filed.

Wardens are not easily fooled

While patrolling the Hill Country on the opening day of gun season, a game warden entered a camp with six out-of-state hunters who had 13 whitetail deer, three Rio Grande turkeys and four feral hogs in their possession. After inspecting the animals, tags and hunting licenses, the warden found that one of the hunters was hunting with a free Texas Resident Active Duty Military license. The warden, who is a veteran himself, noticed the individual’s military grooming standards were not up to par with what is usually required of active duty service members. After asking the individual to produce his state and military identification cards, the warden found the individual was actually a citizen of another state and was not active duty military. The warden seized two whitetail bucks and one doe from the individual and filed multiple charges against him.

Thump in the trunk

A police officer who had stopped a vehicle for running a stop sign saw a .22 caliber rifle, a .40 caliber pistol and spent shell casings inside the car. While interviewing the occupants, the officer heard several thumps coming from the trunk. When he opened the trunk, the officer found a deer that had been shot but was still alive. That’s when the game warden was called. The vehicle occupants told the warden they shot the deer at about 11:30 p.m. while it stood in the street near a residential area. The warden arrested two of the suspects for hunting deer at night and charged the vehicle driver for unlawfully carrying a weapon. While booking the suspects at the jail, the warden overheard one of them comment to the other he couldn’t believe they got in so much trouble for killing a deer. Now that’s a classic case of dumb and dumber.

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