HOUSTON - Texas game wardens are law enforcement officers responsible for water safety, search and rescue operations and the conservation and protection of the state's natural resources.
We recently spent the day with a group of game wardens who have seen some pretty wild stuff.
For them, a day on the water is anything but just another day at the beach.
Depending on the day of the week, Warden Mack Chambers' office may be the waters of Galveston Bay, the Port of Houston or the Gulf of Mexico.
“We're in charge of all of the fresh water, all of the salt water, out to 9 nautical miles, and now we're responsible, with the feds (federal government), from out 9 to 200 miles into the Gulf.”
Once out on the water, Mack and his co-workers immediately get to work, spot-checking boats.
Warden Jennifer Provaznik spends her days making sure the seafood that makes it to your table is safe and legal.
While on our ride-along, she boarded the boat of a fish guide who was hosting a tour of men from Georgia on a fishing trip. She gave the fish guide a citation for an untagged fish.
“I found an oversized red drum that was untagged. You gotta make sure that all the fish are legal because if it's too small, or too big, it affects the breeding cycles,” she said. “I want to make sure that the fish, or any type of aquatic product, was caught legally.”
Mack said policing the waters is all a part of "protecting the resource.”
“We take it for granted that we have fish in the water, or that we have deer to harvest but, in actuality, it takes a team to actually keep this going. And that's what we're here for,” he said.
Even on a calm day out on the water, the game wardens know to expect the unexpected.
Mack told about one of the wild adventures he experienced while on the job.
“New Year's Eve, I get a call from the Galveston County Sheriff's Office. There is a live deer in the back of a gentleman's car. (The man) was arrested for DWI and everybody left me to deal with this deer.
“I had to fight this deer to get the ropes off him to release him. I got beat up pretty bad by this deer. He was, well, awake. He was fine. We released him, but I came home and my wife looked at me and was, like, 'What happened to you?' And I said, 'You wouldn't believe it if I told you.'”
And that's not the only crazy thing that has happened in the field.
Each month, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department releases Game Warden Field Notes, which chronicle the experiences of game wardens on the job and include some wild, wacky and downright unbelievable encounters.
This is a note about a woman driving around with a fawn in the back of her car.
Warden Daniel Castaneda said every day on the job is truly an unexpected adventure, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Every day can be a wacky story. Every day is different. You go out not knowing what to expect, and that's something I love about this job also,” he said.
No matter if it's by land, by sea, on a shrimp boat or inside the fish houses down in Galveston, game wardens have one goal in mind: keeping Texas and the people of this great state safe.
“Protecting the resource, protecting the resources for future generations,” Mack said.
Click here to read more of the Texas Game Warden Field Notes.
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