In their drive to conserve natural resources for future generations, Texas’ 552 game wardens often patrol alone in remote locations, where they protect endangered wildlife, apprehend poachers, enforce fishing laws, patrol public waters to keep boaters safe, and perform numerous other law enforcement duties.  

“It’s the nature of the job to be inherently dangerous,” said Maj. Tracy Davis, chief of training at the Texas Game Warden Training Center near Hamilton. “We’re out in all types of weather, often at night. Game wardens have much more diverse job duties than we did when Texas created the job in 1895.”

Those duties vary geographically but include search and rescue, disaster relief, drowning victim recovery and border patrol. Since 2012, Davis, a staff of 11 and visiting instructors have educated 169 Texas game wardens at the 200-acre training center.

Davis graduated from Tarleton in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. The center’s assistant chief, Capt. Craig Hernandez, and two training lieutenants also are Tarleton alumni.

“My heart is still out in the field,” Davis said; he worked for 20 years in the Panhandle and Brown County. “But everything we do here at the training center supports field operations. Our training is progressive, but at the same time we’re honoring our legacy.”

As chief of the training center, Davis uses skills acquired at Tarleton to manage personnel, create and follow a budget, and organize tasks. He remembers the support of a professor who reached out and counseled him through his education. Today he follows what he learned and mentors the cadets he recruits.

Davis’ passion for hunting and fishing led him to his 32-year career as a Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden. Now he nurtures the next generation of wildlife guardians so Texans can always take refuge in the state’s natural beauty.

In July, 23 game warden cadets and seven park police cadets graduated from the training center. Four of them are Tarleton graduates.

“I tell our cadets that we’re all walking on layers of game wardens who have come before us,” Davis said. “And I want them to safeguard that legacy of conservation, do things honorably, serve fearlessly, and make us proud.”

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Article by Mary G. Saltarelli and republished in its entirety with permission from Tarleton State University.

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