TEXSAR Members Join the Texas Game Wardens
Why did you decide to become a Texas Game Warden?
Kally: “I hunted, fished and camped when I was growing up and always loved the outdoors.” My Dad took me hunting and my Grandmother took me camping and fishing.” “ While attending Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, I interned with the Game Wardens there and was hooked after my first ride along.”
Matt: “I am From Rhode Island originally and moved to Texas to become a teacher of Environmental Science. After 3 years I needed something faster paced. I started looking into Law Enforcement and did a ride along with an Austin Police Officer and a Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden. Prior to that I joined TEXSAR to be of service in an active environment. I was a hunter and fisherman with a focus on saltwater fishing and bird hunting. Because of those experiences and my enjoyment of Search and Rescue activities I applied for the TPWD Game Warden Academy.”
What was involved in the process to gain acceptance to the academy?
Kally: “It was a lengthy process consisting of a physical readiness test, panel interview and background check as well as a medical and psychological exam.”
Matt: “There were extensive background checks. In fact, an Investigator showed up unannounced at school while I was teaching. In addition, there were physical and psychological tests. The entire process took a month to complete.”
What was the most challenging part of the TGW Academy? Most interesting?
Kally: “The training was a 7 ½ month academy in Hamilton Texas. We experienced the constant stress of having to complete different phases of training as well as sticking to a rigorous schedule. We had regular physical fitness tests including a water survival course in full gear that included a ballistics vest. It was interesting to see how our diverse group was able to come together as a team and work with one another to achieve goals. We relied on each other to accomplish the mission. 42 cadets started and 30 graduated. I was one of five females.”
Matt: Challenging Part: “The swim test knocked out a lot of people. Water survival is a key as drowning kills more Game Wardens than anything else. However, I loved swim tests since I grew up around water. The pace of the school was fast with multiple exams, every week. The paramilitary lifestyle was different as I was used to being independent. It was regimented and every moment of the day planned out. If someone screwed up everyone did burpees and pushups.”
Interesting part: “We learned how to catch and tie up alligators. They brought in live 7 footers as its common for Game Wardens to relocate them. The most fun however, was the emergency vehicle operations course. We had to complete the course without knocking down the cones while driving at a high rate of speed. Learning game and fish regulations was most interesting part of classroom studies.”
Where will you be stationed and what will you be doing?
Kally: “Before graduation, we had a list of openings and I was fortunate enough to get my top duty station pick.” “I will be one of two Game Wardens in Live Oak County and will live in Three Rivers Texas.” This area is known for both large and small ranches, deer, hogs, turkey, dove and quail as well as fishing in the big reservoir of Choke Canyon and Lake Corpus Christi. We will also work outside of our home county.”
Matt: “I report to Maverick County on 20 August. I will living in Eagle Pass and working with one other Game Warden. I had 3 choices of location and Maverick County was my first choice. I liked Maverick County because I thought there would be more variety and also because I will get to work with the Border Patrol and other LEO’s. The Frio River and Lake Amistad are in the area.”
How did TEXSAR help prepare you for your new role as a TGW? Specific skills or experiences?
Kally: “ First, I want to thank Jamie Doty for encouraging me to join TEXSAR. GSAR 1 taught me land navigation and search techniques. I loved FAST 1. It was a tough course but prepared me for swift water situations. Deployments like Hurricane Harvey taught me how TEXSAR members worked as a team and the importance of the ICS. All three of these trainings and situations prepared me for what I may encounter as a Game Warden. There is a special Game Warden SAR team that receives swift water and rescue training but it will require a 1 year tenure before I can apply.”
Matt: “SAR was rewarding and I knew the skills I learned would help me in searches and rescues as a Game Warden. The TEXSAR FAST course prepared me for all facets of the Game Warden Academy FAST awareness course. Hurricane Harvey allowed me to see how disaster responses ranged from terrific organization to chaos. My Harvey experiences from Port Aransas to the Houston area solidified my desire to be a Game Warden.”
How will our partnership benefit both agencies?
Kally: “Both agencies can learn from each other and I’ll always be an advocate for TEXSAR as a Texas Game Warden. You can count on me suggesting a call to TEXSAR when we have a need.”
Matt: “TEXSAR and GW operations will overlap and create even better communications and responses. Professionally trained volunteer agencies make a big difference in providing force multipliers for law enforcement. I will be able to recommend TEXSAR in the future.”
“I want to acknowledge TEXSAR for its good work and service. It’s been a pleasure and honor to be part of the organization. I won’t hesitate to recommend TEXSAR when our need fits TEXSAR’s skills.”