On January 1, 2014, Culberson County Game Warden John Apgar received a call concerning a buck mule deer carcass that had been located in a field North of Van Horn. The headless carcass was found by some coyote hunters and reported to the Game Warden. The deer’s head had been removed and no meat had been taken from the animal. Game Warden Turi Salinas responded to the area and worked the crime scene. Warden Salinas found some good tire impressions and located a spent .22-250 shell casing.
Texas Operation Game Thief provided the funds to offer a $1000 cash reward for any information on the poaching case. Captain Ray Spears used some crime scene photos and put together a poster that was distributed throughout the Culberson and Hudspeth County areas. Warden Salinas and Warden Apgar interviewed some individuals that reside near the crime scene area. They were able to get further information concerning the case. As the word concerning the poached deer and investigation made its way throughout the small West Texas community, a call was received by Warden Salinas that would eventually make the case.
An individual had seen the Game Wardens looking around the area and he also saw the posters up in town. He knew that it was only a matter of time before he would be caught. The man sat down with the officers and confessed to the crime. He detailed how a late night rabbit hunting adventure turned into a deer poaching incident. He confessed to shooting the deer with his .22-250 rifle while head lighting it with his vehicle. He cut the head off and transported it back to his permanent residence in the Texas Panhandle. The deer head was recovered and the subject is facing numerous wildlife crime charges. Good police work and a dedication to protect Texas’ wildlife resources by District 3 Game Wardens helped to bring a poacher to justice.