A Maud, Texas, man accused of illegally hunting deer on private land without permission has been charged with a felony in Bowie County.
Cody Alton Wharton, 35, was brought to the attention of game wardens in October. Game Warden Daniel Kessler and Warden Jody Sellers received information that someone was hunting illegally around the old Gander Mountain store which is now Church on the Rock in Bowie County.
The wardens recognized the name of their suspect becuase his hunting and fishing license privileges have been revoked by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for previous violations, according to probable cause documents. During the investigation, Kessler discovered fresh blood on property managed by a local commercial real estate firm and signs that hunting was occurring on adjacent property owned by a different management company. Representatives for both companies told the wardens that no one had permission to enter the properties or hunt in the area.
Wharton allegedly claimed that a deer observed on his property in Maud had been harvested in Arkansas, where he has a valid license to hunt. The deer observed on Wharton’s property allegedly did not have a large enough antler spread to be legally harvested in Texas.
In addition to seizing the deer carcass, investigators also seized Wharton’s cell phone and obtained a warrant to analyze the data it contained. Using cell phone data and by comparing photos Wharton allegedly posted to social media, investigators determined the deer had been illegally harvested on private property in Texas.
Wharton has been charged with the felony offense of taking wildlife resources without consent and with five misdemeanor violations, including hunting without a valid license.
Wharton is currently free on bond.