Affidavit: 2 men poached deer at Houston County ranch, crashed truck through fence

Affidavit: 2 men poached deer at Houston County ranch, crashed truck through fence
Thomas Hankins (Source: Houston County Jail)
Thomas Hankins (Source: Houston County Jail)
Alvin Strong (Source: Houston County Jail)
Alvin Strong (Source: Houston County Jail)

HOUSTON COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Game wardens from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department arrested two men early Sunday morning in connection to allegations that they poached three deer at a Houston County ranch and then crashed their pickup through a fence after the property owner tried to stop them.

Thomas Farrell Hankins, 48, of Bullard, and Alvin Lee Strong, 48, of Fairfield, were both booked in to the Houston County Jail. They were each charged with three state-jail felony taking wildlife resources without the consent of the owner charges, a Class A misdemeanor criminal mischief charge, and a class A misdemeanor criminal trespass with a deadly weapon charge.

According to the narrative from one of the arrest affidavits for the two men, TPW Game Warden Eddie Lehr received a call from Houston County Sheriff's Office dispatch at about 7 a.m. Sunday in regard to a report of poaching activity on the McCall Ranch near the Trinity River and Navarro Crossing in northwestern Houston County.

The game warden called a witness who told him she had been hunting with permission on the McCall Ranch when she saw a gray truck occupied by two men shoot at a deer from the road into the ranch, the press release stated.

At that point, the woman saw the pickup enter the ranch, so the men could recover one anterless white-tail deer.

"As the recovery was being made, she observed the subjects shoot at several other deer in the vicinity of the first deer and within the boundaries of the McCall Ranch," the affidavit stated.

After the witness notified John A. McCall Jr., the property owner, of what had happened, McCall drove to her location in a utility buggy and spotted the truck on his property. He then blocked the entrance gate of his property in an attempt to keep the two men from leaving, the affidavit stated.

"The suspect vehicle then circled around and proceeded south along his fence line at a high rate of speed," the affidavit stated. "The truck crashed through McCall's fence and into the neighboring property. The truck then rammed through a set of locked double gates to exit the property onto CR 2260 headed south."

Lehr went to the ranch, and Game Warden Zak Benge, his partner, headed north on State Highway 287 in an effort to find the suspects' vehicle. An all-points bulletin was also put out. According to the affidavit, Lehr noticed a third whitetail deer that had been killed on McCall's property.

Later, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper stopped the pickup containing Hawkins and Strong near the Houston-Anderson county line. They allegedly had two white-tail deer in the back of their truck.

After Benge arrived on the scene, the two men admitted to trespassing on the ranch, killing three deer without McCall's permission, driving through the boundary fence with firearms in their possession, and crashing through a locked gate, the affidavit stated.

The alleged Houston County incident wasn't Strong's first run-in with the law. According to "The Teague Chronicle," Strong was arrested on hunting violations on July 25 as part of Operation Game Thief. The article states that Strong was arrested on three hunting provision violations and one charge of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, and he was released a day later after he posted a $19,000 surety bond.

"According to reports, the arrest came when Game Warden Sam Anderson received a call about someone shooting deer," the article stated. "Anderson reported finding a quartered deer in a cooler under the suspect's porch."

Click here for the full text of "The Teague Chronicle" article.

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