East Tennessee Outdoors: Tennessee game wardens

Published 11:42 pm Sunday, March 1, 2020



If all of us are truthful to ourselves, we can tell you the moments we became who we are. They were small moments that changed us, moments of disappointment or joy that made an impact on our growth.

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For me, that moment was the night my dad was arrested by a Tennessee Wildlife Enforcement Officer.

First, let me say that this is the only time my father was ever arrested for anything, and truthfully, he wasn’t taken to jail but was given a ticket by our local game warden who had caught him for hunting without a license and for illegal trapping.

I can justify both charges. Yes, he was hunting without a license because he had hunted the same area all of his life and he was hunting squirrels.

He was running a trapline and took his shotgun to shoot a squirrel or two if he came across them for our supper table.

The illegal trapping charge was valid because he had violated rules he did not know existed. He did not have his name on his traps nor did he insert them 12 inches into a hollow or hole.

He did have a trapping license but did not know all of the laws.

With all fairness, dad accepted that he had broken laws and he even took the game warden back to his traps and let him search the house and the smokehouse where he kept his hides.

The moment that the game warden walked through the house looking for illegal activity taught me a valuable lesson. I am not cut out to be a criminal.

I try my best to obey all game laws because they are there to help the wildlife, they are fair to everyone and basically, I am scared to death to break them!

It is always in the back of my mind that I will get caught. With today’s modern investigating techniques, the TWRA has a hundred ways to track you down.

A few years ago, two road hunters shot a four-point buck in a field below my house. My nephew came along about the time they were dragging it to their truck and he called the game warden.

The game warden investigated where the deer was shot and found blood where the animal had died. They took a sample of the blood and performed a DNA test on the deer.

Next, they went to a local check-in station and saw that a buck had been checked in the night before. They then went to the hunter’s house and took a piece of the deer and did a DNA test on the deer meat in his freezer.

They matched it to the poached deer and two men were arrested for poaching. They were required to pay a large fine, their deer was taken, and their hunting privileges were lost for five years.

Then there is the story about a road hunter who shot at one of TWRA’s “fake bucks”. The eight-point electronic decoy had been shot at before but not by someone as determined as this guy.

The deer did not move after he shot it the first time so he stalked out of the road onto the private field to get closer and then fired again. The deer did not move.

Finally, he got close enough to jump onto the deer’s back with a knife and tried to cut its throat.

When the deer head finally came off and a game warden walked out of the woods, the man got up, shook his head, and walked toward the game warden’s hidden truck.

The morals of the story?

If you can stalk close enough to a deer to jump on its back and cut its throat, it is probably a fake and secondly, obey the game laws.

It’s not worth the risk!