My First Encounter with a Texas Game Warden and Local PoliceSubmitted by RobHino on Tue, 12/24/2013 - 01:58
Some of you may recall that I recently left city life and moved back to the country to get away from the hustle and bustle and focus on my small businesses and family property.
Yesterday, I was working in the shop all day on a project for my mother for Christmas.
My brother and I have a hunting lease no more than 2 miles away from where we live. He decided to go for the evening hunt as we've been trying to shoot a monster buck that frequents the property. I'd guess my bro left the shop around 3:30-4:00 pm to be sitting in time for the feeders to go off at 4:30.
My bro called me at 4:41 pm telling me to call the game processor because he saw one of two cull bucks we've been trying to shoot. I texted him at 4:51 pm that the game processor didn't answer, and he asked me to call again. I texted him back at 4:57 pm that the phone goes straight to voicemail and asked him if he shot one of the cull bucks. He said he hadn't yet.
I called my brother at 6:21 pm asking him where he was because some guy was walking up to the property. (Our 2.35 acres are near a bad part of town.) My brother said he was on his way back home; he was by the power plant down the road.
When he got back he told me what happened. He didn't shoot the cull bucks and left the blind at 5:30. When he was driving down the sendero to leave the property, he saw a big buck eating in the field. The sun was still up! He stopped the truck, got out, aimed, and shot the deer in the neighbor's property. (We have permission to shoot deer in the neighboring field near the property line from the farmer neighbor.)
My bro said he was very confident he made a good shot, but the deer ran off to the left from my brother's vantage point. My brother's vision was only limited to the view down the sendero so he wasn't sure if the deer stayed in the field or if he made it to the the thick brush on our property. He waited about 20-30 minutes before pursuing the deer. At that point, darkness set in. He drove down to the edge of the field and shined his lights everywhere but couldn't find anything. He drove around the field but couldn't see anything.
Now back at the shop, we debated and contemplated and consulted with several more experienced hunters. We have call logs and texts to prove all of this. I was telling my brother that we should wait until morning since it was pretty cool outside and a northern had just blew in that evening.
After a couple hours we decided to go back and see if we could at least find the impact zone or a trail of blood crossing the perimeter field. We needed a flashlight, so we went to the convenient store and bought one. If needed, their surveillance will show us trying out every single flashlight! My bro still has the receipt too I believe.
So, we finally get back out to the lease and try to recreate the shot. We had walkie-talkies and my bro parked where he had taken the shot and guided me to where he estimated the impact zone would be. I'm walking in the field looking for blood, but I didn't find anything. Once I get to where my bro estimates the impact zone is, he comes out to join me in looking for any blood.
After not finding anything, I'm saying let's just go home and come back tomorrow morning. But my bro is adamant the deer is here somewhere. He walks the entire dirt road and still no blood so then he just starts doubling back through the field about 30 yards off the dirt road. He breaks radio silence!
"I found him!"
He was stiff and starting to bloat already. My bro tags him and we drag him back to dirt road, go get the truck, load him on the tailgate, and drive back to the shop.
We're not very experience hunters, and even less so animal cleaners. We've seen it done, and my bro has done it a handful of times. Let's just say we're far from experts.
So, we decided to watch several YouTube videos on the best way to field dress, skin, and quarter a whitetail buck. When we finally decided to start messing with the deer, it was around 10:21 because we took several pictures while it was still strapped to my bro's tailgate.
The deer's jaw was completely stiff shut as we tried to look at the teeth to age the deer. All the legs were stiffed up too, but the deer was still warm when you touched his guts. "He's still warm" I remember my brother remarking.
Midnight rolls around and we finally have the deer's cornhole cutout and zip tied and he's just about gutted completely. We initially tried to pull him up by his neck to use gravity as one method we saw online, but we ran into some trouble getting the anus to release and come out cleanly. So, we decided to lower the deer and string him upside down from his legs as most people do.
Now we got to skin him and it's way after midnight. Our shop is right on the highway and we had the roll up bay door open, all the lights on, the radio blaring some Randy Rogers and guess who decides to show up.
The local police!
They creep up and approach cautiously. I walk out and greet them and say hello and ask what the problem was.
They immediately are concerned with the deer and when it was killed. "So y'all just killed a deer. Like at 7 o'clock?" one of the young officers remarked.
My brother told them what happened and that this deer was shot at around 5:30 pm on our lease just up the road. The ran both of our id's, and of course, we came back clean.
A few minutes later, the game warden showed up...seemingly upset that someone woke him up for this at around 2am. He was on a mission from the get go. It was his opinion that the deer was shot illegally because he was a little warm. He asked for my bro's hunting license. He pulled my brother back to his truck asking him where the gun was. Of course the gun had been put up hours ago like around 6:30 pm! The game warden was feeling my bro's truck to see if it felt warm. The warden was surprised to see that all the tags were filled out completely and correctly.
Then he came back for me to get my version of the what happened. I told him what happened, and he was saying something like, "well, this doesn't look good because the deer is warm." We then got into a minor verbal altercation as we debated when the cold front had blown in. He said the north wind was blowing all day, and I told him that I was working in short sleeves all day and I didn't put my jacket on till this evening. That's when he got mad!
"Are you calling me a liar?"
"No, but you're calling me one."
I kept saying that it would be stupid to be skinning a deer right off the highway with full lights on for anyone to see. We clearly weren't trying to hide anything.
This game went on for almost two hours. The game warden repeatedly said, "If you want to change your story, now's the time while I can help you."
We were adamant at what happened and that there was nothing illegal going on here. You can see he's mad right now.
He then proceeds to cut a big chunk of meat from one of the hind quarters and says he's going to get the temperature and have the lab run some analysis to find out when the deer was shot, and if it came back something other than 5:30 then he was going to arrest my brother. My bro stuck to to the truth.
The cops by this time realized nothing was going on and after I showed them some of my dad's old cars in the shop, they took off.
The game warden went back to his truck with the piece of meat and came back a few minutes later. My bro asked him what the lab said to which the warden replied, "that's between me and the lab." He gave us another chance to change our story, but there was nothing to change.
He grilled us a little more about the property and said that he was going to go by there in the morning. I told him I'd go with him right now, but he declined.
He eventually left and gave my brother the benefit-of-the-doubt that we weren't criminals, poachers, or spot-lighters, promising and threatening to come back if things didn't check out.
I feel completely violated, like I just shot the king's deer. I mean, this guy was a complete joke with zero investigative skills and little-man syndrome. How many people has this guy harassed? How many hours of tax payer dollars has this guy wasted?
He came on to the scene not looking for the truth, but looking for anything that could possibly show the deer was shot illegally. He ignored the facts (phone records, pictures, receipts) and he ignored the basic idea that if we had shot the deer at night (which we wouldn't do), we wouldn't be cleaning him right off the highway at 2 in the morning. His mind is jaded because in that line of profession, with cops as well, they more than most people, have way more encounters with criminals. So they automatically think the worst instead of assessing each situation independently. He never once considered that we were telling the truth. He assumed we were liars and criminals. I won't stand for that.
The game warden ended up giving my brother a ticket for not having completed the hunter's safety course. He said that normally he would take the deer, but he's going to go to the lease tomorrow and check things out. My father called the Sheriff (a good friend of ours) and told him what happened. The Sheriff said we should have called him and to do so next time.
We're going to try to set up a meeting with the game warden to present all the evidence to give him an opportunity to stop thinking we were lying to him. This is a small town. I don't want this guy thinking we lied to him and always trying to pick on us.
What would you have done?