On the way home I maneuvered over into the turn lane. Yielding to the oncoming traffic, I patiently waited for the white truck that approached to pass. He slowed, finally coming to a stop and I noticed him looking out of his window. My line of sight followed his gaze to the center median. There an enormous buck lay motionless, the eight points of his antlers towered above his head. It was sad to see such a majestic animal in the middle of a busy street. But my dad is a hunter and I am from Texas, so I also saw it as an unnecessary waste of food.
Once the gentleman in the white truck pulled into the parking area, I found a spot to make a call. It is certainly not an unfamiliar sight to see road kill. The buck that lay in the road was different somehow and I couldn’t let him remain. The white truck circled back past me out of sight. I called someone who would know what to do. My mom picked up on the other end and I gave her a rundown of the situation. Maybe I’m just a regular city person, but when she mentioned that picking up game without proper permissions was illegal, I was surprised. She also said my next call should be to the game warden.
Game warden? I thought to myself, but that’s just for National Parks right? I stand corrected. After a quick search I found this page:
I called the San Antonio Regional Office at (210) 348-7375 and was greeted by a friendly voice on the other end. As I explained the situation I could hear her taking notes on the other end. She took down my location and said she was on the way.
I turned back to go wait and capture some photos of the buck. Maybe it was further back, I thought to myself as I scanned where he once lay. Walking from my car to the roadside I looked left then right. He was gone. I’d wished I knew what to do sooner and the realization hit me.
Mr. White-Truck had turned back to collect the deer.
When the game warden called me as she neared the location I broke the bad news. There was disappointment in her voice when I let her know I’d failed to get the license plate. I admitted that my first phone call was not to the wardens, but rather to another trusty resource – my parents. We stayed on the phone a bit longer repeating several details, then hung up.
As I drove back to the office I knew I wanted to share this story. Whether you’re a hunter that respects the Texas Parks and Wildlife or a naturalist that appreciates the balance of conservancy, this is a learning opportunity. Many of you are familiar with how this works, but this is for those that may not know. So next time you pass wild game or see a questionable incident know there are resources out there.
Operation Game Thief is Texas’ Wildlife Crime-Stoppers Program, offering rewards of up to $1,000 for information leading to arrest and conviction for a wildlife crime.
More details can be found here:
Read the full story about Operation Game Thief here:
Hunting seasons for the various wild game in Texas can be found here,
listed according to county: