Authorities seek tips in exotic poaching case; possible suspect truck in nearby 10-point buck poach

Contributed/Texas Parks and Wildlife
Left: A Burnet County landowner is offering a $2,500 reward for the capture of a suspect who poached an exotic red deer bull, he used for breeding on his ranch off County Road 113 in Burnet County. Call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-792-GAME (4263) to offer a tip and remain anonymous.

Right: Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens are taking aim at suspect poachers in two Burnet County cases. A witness snapped a photo of a vehicle belonging to a possible suspect who illegally shot a 10-point buck around 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 22 at a property off Ranch Road 690 in Burnet County. The suspect could also be connected to an illegal poaching of an exotic deer and white-tailed deer about five miles away around the same time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Connie Swinney

Staff Writer

Burnet Bulletin

A suspect faces a string of charges, including a potential third-degree felony, in a Thanksgiving weekend poaching case involving an exotic red deer bull and whitetail buck found decapitated on a sprawling ranch in northwest Burnet County.

Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens also released an image of a pickup truck, leaving the scene of a separate poaching incident on Ranch Road 690 about five miles from the Threadgill Ranch around the same time as the exotic case, investigators said.

Texas Parks and Wildlife investigators believe the whitetail buck and red deer bull were shot, decapitated and left on the Threadgill Ranch, just off County Road 113 sometime between Nov. 21 and 27.

“It's a remote county road. It's a large hunting ranch. It's a high-fence ranch. Somebody shot it from the road likely,” Game Warden Braxton Harris said.

A worker for the landowner discovered the headless red deer bull, which the owner used as a breeding animal, in a pasture on the property. Investigators believe it was shot around Nov. 21 or 22.

“It was almost a pet that would eat out of their hands,” Harris said. “It's so disappointing.”

In about the same area on the property, a worker found the whitetail buck with its head removed in a stock tank about 30 yards from the county road. The buck may have been shot around Nov. 27.

“They just wanted the antlers,” Harris said. “For a legally shot deer, you have to make a reasonable effort to recover the meat.

“This definitely doesn't apply to this.”

Game wardens have also taken aim at a suspect in a separate case which could be connected to the Threadgill Ranch incident.

Around 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 24 about five miles away on FM 690 from the ranch, witnesses gathered video images of a white pickup believed to have been involved in the poaching of a 10-point buck within two days of the red deer bull incident.

“(Witnesses) heard the gunshots. (The witness) went over to the fence (on the opposite side of the road),” Harris said. “The guy is in his truck in the middle of the road. They yelled at him.

“He drives off, comes back and shoots again,” he added. “They take a four-second video and he drives away and doesn't come back.”

The suspect left the poached deer laying just inside the fence on the private property, according to the report.

“There's a possibility. We get two or three calls of deer shot on 690 each year,” Harris said. “It may not be related, but it may be the same person. We don't know.”

In all cases, a suspect could faces several charges including discharging a firearm from a public roadway, trespassing, hunting without owner consent, waste of game, taking an exotic without owner consent and a possible hunting license violations.

“It's 100 percent between a class A and state jail felony,” he said. “To bump it up to third degree felony, that's up to the district attorney's office.”

While the cases carry hefty penalties, game wardens emphasized the case of the exotic and whitetail buck to reach out to the public for more clues.

“Antlers that big usually someone has seen it,” he said. “Someone is showing it off. They can forward if they saw it.”

To offer a tip, call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-792-GAME. The landowner is offering a $2,500 reward. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

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