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Gear Up’s Thermal Drone Finds Man in 71 Seconds June 2024
 

Texas Game Wardens are called upon all hours of the day and night to serve their communities. Not only do they enforce Texas hunting, fishing and boating safety laws, they are also force multipliers for local law enforcement agencies, especially in rural areas.

Texas Game Warden Michael Hummert is stationed in Erath County and is always ready to help his fellow citizens. He is a certified drone operator, and just days after receiving a thermal drone through Gear Up for Game Wardens, he got a call asking for assistance in locating a 90-year-old man with dementia who had been missing for hours.

“I loaded up, got to the scene, and got the drone up as quick as I could,” recalled Hummert. “We found him in 71 seconds. He was crouched down in a steep embankment next to a major highway. He got checked out by EMS and was released back to his family that night.”

  Story #1: Game Warden Michael Hummert with Drone  

The thermal drone was provided through Gear Up for Game Wardens, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation program. Through private donations, Gear Up for Game Wardens provides specialty equipment Texas Game Wardens need to maintain safety and ensure the highest level of service for the people of Texas. While the state provides the basic necessities for game wardens to do their jobs, there is still a critical need for additional specialized equipment.

“These thermal drones are game changers in search and rescue situations,” said Lt. Mathew Bridgefarmer who leads the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “They are literally saving lives. We are very thankful to have the support of so many generous donors in providing this specialty gear to help us better serve the citizens of Texas."

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  Story #2: Gear Up Tops $3.8 million with Gordy & Sons Fundraiser  

A fundraiser earlier this year, which netted more than $270,000, has brought the total raised for Gear Up for Game Wardens to $3.8 million since the program launched in 2017.

The fundraiser was held at Gordy and Sons in Houston. Gear Up for Game Wardens Leadership Council Chairman Randy Risher asked Russell Gordy if he would host the fundraiser, and he was thrilled at the generosity of those who attended.

“Right before the program started, Russell totally surprised me by telling me that he would match whatever was raised during the event,” said Risher. “I was blown away by that, and it really energized the crowd gathered to support our Texas Game Wardens."

The event cleared the priority needs list for Texas Game Wardens in Region IV, which includes counties in and around Houston. Gear purchased included an airboat, a UTV and trailer, night vision equipment, float coats and other necessary items.

The list of needs for Texas Game Wardens is never-ending because heavily used gear wears out, and there are constant improvements in specialty gear that help our game wardens get the job done. 

“Texas Game Wardens do a wonderful job protecting the resources of our state, and I have always supported them,” said Gordy. “It was great to see so much contributed for the men and women who perform a sometimes dangerous and thankless job for us all. I hope more Texans will join us in supporting Gear Up for Game Wardens."

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  Story #3: Meet Game Warden Michael Hummert  

Texas Game Warden Michael Hummert grew up in the small town of Grandview, roughly 30 miles south of Fort Worth. Much of his youth was spent fishing, and he and his dad even enjoyed competing in bass fishing tournaments together—his dad in the adult competitions, and Michael, in the youth.

His family also grew up reading Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine, and one story had a profound impact on him during his senior year of high school. According to Hummert, “Growing up, we had a subscription to Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine, and there was an article called ‘A Game Warden’s Life.’ It seemed like a really interesting job, getting to be outdoors and give back to the hunting and fishing community that I had been a part of most of my life."

  Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine  

Hummert went on to pursue his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. In 2004, he applied and was selected for the Texas Game Warden Summer Internship. “I got to spend all summer riding with the game wardens in Region II, all around the Dallas-Fort Worth area and up north to Lake Texoma. After spending the summer on the lake, boating and learning the job, I decided this was definitely the job I wanted to do."

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  Story #4: SAVE THE DATE for Gear Up’s Online Auction!  

Back by popular demand—TPWF’s 3rd Annual Gear Up for Game Wardens Online Auction will be held September 26-28. Mark your calendars and gear up to bid on an amazing collection of auction items and one-of-a-kind experiences.

The Gear Up for Game Wardens program supports Texas Game Wardens by providing specialty gear to help them do their jobs more safely and effectively. Since 2017, generous donors have helped provide equipment ranging from thermal search and rescue drones to side-scan sonar units and more. Proceeds from the annual online auction provide program support and ensure that Gear Up for Game Wardens can continue its work to get much needed equipment in the hands of your Texas Game Wardens.

Thanks to an amazing turnout, last year’s auction raised over $175,000 to support the program. We’re in the process of gathering fabulous items for this year’s auction, and we hope to meet or exceed last year’s amount.

Save the date for Sept. 26-28 and stay tuned for more details coming soon!

  Story #5: Become a Friend of Texas Game Wardens Today!  

Sustaining the Gear Up for Game Wardens program ensures TPWF can manage the program and purchase the specialty equipment Texas Game Wardens need. Becoming a Friend of Texas Game Wardens helps us continue our work to enhance the capabilities of the best-trained corps of conservation officers in the nation. Become a Friend today and see the exclusive items you will receive so you can show your support of our Texas Game Wardens.

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