Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

When Texas Game Wardens Encounter the Unexpected

A Texas game warden protecting the citizenry from ducks.

Photo by Earl Nottingham / Texas Parks and Wildlife

A Texas game warden at work.

‘The Dog Ate My Fishing Limit,’ Tubing at Night and Massive Drug Busts

There is no typical shift for Texas’ 532 game wardens, part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

One day you’re issuing citations for lapsed watercraft registrations, the next you’re seizing nearly two tons of marijuana from boats on Lake Falcon.

That’s what happened earlier this week according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). The pot bust, known as Operation Tilapia, was announced today along with the confiscation of over 10,000 feet of illegal gill net. This is their second major marijuana seizure of the year. In April, game wardens captured over $4 million worth of marijuana near the border.

But it’s not all drug busts for Texas’ wardens. Monitoring the 3 million people who hunt and fish in the state each year is more than a full-time job, and it can make for some unexpected situations, like the fisherman who blames his dog for violating catch limits.

We’ve selected a few of the most interesting game warden encounters below, culled from the June 18 edition of Game Warden Field Notes:

Fido: White Bass Bandit

An individual fishing for white bass was issued multiple citations for violating the daily bag limit. Two game wardens found that the man possessed 21 more fish than was permitted. When asked to explain his overfishing, the man claimed that “it was his dog’s fault.”

Oklahoman Standoff

Two game wardens patrolling a remote section of Palo Duro Lake spotted nine people from Oklahoma who were fishing illegally. The wardens observed the group under the cloak of darkness before making their presence known. At that point, one of the fishermen produced a rifle, and several tense moments passed before he was convinced to lay down his firearm. The game wardens then documented the fish in their possession, and released them back into the lake.


In Val Verde County, an unattended seven-year-old drifted away from the shore of Lake Amistad in his family’s boat. Two game wardens patrolling the area responded, retrieved the child, and returned him to his grateful family.

The Long Branch of the Law

A cedar tree: the game warden's best friend.

Photo by Flickr user steveyaphotos

A cedar tree: the game warden's best friend.

A warden in Burnet County trailed a motorist who decided to blaze his own trail off either shoulder of a county road. After a 15-mile pursuit, (during which the driver tossed several beer bottles out of his window), the driver crashed his truck into a cedar tree. The driver was taken into custody, and arrested for evading arrest and DWI. The tree’s condition is unknown.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

After sunset, a Dallas county game warden and lieutenant saw a 12-year-old boy tubing behind a boat on Joe Pool Lake. The wardens stopped the boat and found that its driver was intoxicated. They arrested the drunk boater, and charged him with BWI.

Mike Cox, a spokesperson for Texas Parks and Wildlife, says that the wardens never really know what to expect when they go out each day.

“With that many game wardens covering 254 Texas counties, anything is likely to happen at any given time,” he says. “Yes, it can be a dangerous job, but our wardens are well-trained and we like to think they know what to do in any given situation.”


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