The latest installment of Texas Game Warden Field Notes is ripe for Hollywood.
Here in Texas, the approach of Fall means many things: brisk mornings with temperatures dipping well into the mid-eighties, a monochromatic riot of brown, dead leaves stirring in the furnace blast of a hot autumnal breeze, the continued and pervasive summertime drought that threatens the very infrastructure of human civilization in the southwest...
But perhaps nothing reflects the changing of summer to fall here more than the hunting season starting to swing into gear. And while the hunters begin their preparations, so too do those tireless servants of the Public Trust, the Game Wardens.
Let us once again pierce the veil, gentle readers, and glimpse for but a moment the trials and tribulations of those brave men and women who put themselves on the frontline in the battle against drunken morons doing stupid stuff outdoors. I present then, yet another "Game Warden Field Notes" gleaned from the annals of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
I've read through many of these reports, each incident a single data point in a broad, sociological constellation of stupidity. From these, I have been able to glean certain life lessons, little tricks that might, just maybe, offer an alternative route to enjoying your time outside. Preeminent among these lessons: if you're going to get drunk, don't drive anywhere.
"Chivalry's Not Dead, Just Drunk
When a Kimble County game warden noticed a vehicle driving on the wrong side of the road, he attempted to make a traffic stop. After following the vehicle with lights and sirens for two miles, the driver slowly pulled into a driveway and was detained by the warden. When asked why he didn't pull over sooner, the driver said he figured since he was drunk and presumably going to jail, he wanted to get his girlfriend home and avoid having his vehicle towed. A Standard Field Sobriety Test revealed he was intoxicated, and he was arrested for DWI."
Sorry ladies: he's taken.
READ MORE: Rails-To-Trails in Texas
Of course, it's not all booze on our public lands. Some folks have more expensive tastes:
Two Val Verde County game wardens assisted a national park ranger with a call on Lake Amistad near Del Rio. After acquiring consent to search a vehicle, the wardens seized a small amount of suspected cocaine and marijuana from the two suspects in the vehicle. The wardens arrested the two suspects and, when searching them, retrieved several more small bags of suspected cocaine in one of their wallets. One subject was arrested for felony possession of a controlled substance, and the other for misdemeanor possession of marijuana under two ounces. Cases are pending."
Nothin' like a bit of coked-up hiking, maybe a little coked-up fishin'. Cast a couple lines, DO a couple lines, just out enjoying the beauty and serenity of the lake, you know, coked to the gills and screaming at the birds.
Not to let the Phish-listening stoners off the hook, of course. As previously mentioned, marijuana cultivation in situ, both on private and public land, is a very serious problem:
A Polk County game warden received a call from someone near Livingston who was doing preseason maintenance at a deer lease with some fellow hunters when they stumbled upon some marijuana plants growing in the woods. The warden called the Polk County Sheriff's Department special response team (SRT) for assistance in case the plants were being guarded. The warden lead the SRT to what turned out to be a very large and sophisticated cartel-organized marijuana growing operation consisting of tens of thousands of plants. The operation included a very large camp, bunkers with generators and enough food and supplies to last nearly a month. The occupants of the camp may have been spooked by the hunters and left the area in a hurry, leaving behind most of their belongings. The case was turned over to the Polk County Sheriff's Department for further investigation and plant eradication."
In the same "scary as hell illegal stuff that you might inadvertently run across while minding your own damn business outside" idea, here comes a fairly threatening tale of roughnecks and illegal turkey hunting:
"Just Turkeying Around
A Hemphill County game warden was called, when a rancher and his son saw two men in a pickup trespassing on their property, shooting at turkeys with a bow. The rancher said he watched the pair for several minutes and noticed that the men appeared to be circling a flock of turkeys while attempting to get within shooting range. This continued until the suspects noticed the rancher's truck. They quickly threw something into the brush and made a hasty retreat to the country road. At this time, the warden was en-route nearly 20 miles away and instructed the rancher to call him if the suspects returned. When the landowner and his son returned to the area where the suspects had thrown the object, they discovered a compound bow and a dozen arrows. Driving back to the county road, the rancher was surprised to find the two suspects parked in their truck near the ranch entrance. He greeted the pair and asked if they were having car trouble, to which they replied "No" and explained they had just seen a snake and were considering capturing it. "Okay, good luck," said the rancher, as he crossed the county road and drove out of sight into another portion of his ranch where he could still see them. He watched them as they returned to the location, now barren, where they had dropped their gear. The rancher then called the warden, who was 1.5 miles away now, to report that the suspect's truck was in view behind him traveling at a high speed and about to close in on him. The warden instructed the rancher to continue driving the same direction until the warden could meet up with him and the suspects. Just as the two oncoming vehicles came to a stop, the warden was able to pull past the rancher and get behind the suspect's truck before they knew what was going on. The two suspects were from Oklahoma and worked at a nearby oil rig. When asked why they were chasing the rancher, they responded that the rancher had something they needed back. After the warden explained the many laws they had broken, they attempted to convince him they were only after jack rabbits. They finally admitted to turkey hunting when the warden retrieved their bow and arrows from the rancher. Multiple charges and warnings were issued."
Illegal hunting, the weapon discarded-and-found, intrigue and the matching-of-wits between cop and villain, a car chase: this story has everything, the real makings of a very grim cowboy noir.
I see Edward Norton in the role of the warden, a weary but hard working man struggling to get over the recent death of his distant, nearly estranged father (played, in flashbacks, by Sam Waterson with an eye patch). I'd prefer Javier Bardem in the role of the rancher, a man pushed too far by the latest of many incidents of trespassing on his ranch, although if he's unavailable we could probably get Luis Guzman.
READ MORE: Texas Game Warden Notes: Knucklehead Edition
Look, I gotta call Denise and Anton, see if we can't get Miramax to bite on this. Ciao, darlings.