INTERVIEW: ‘Lone Star Law’ follows game wardens into heart of wild Texas - Hollywood Soapbox
By John Soltes
Lone Star Law, the new reality series from Animal Planet, follows an intrepid group of game wardens who head into a variety of terrains to protect both animals and humans from conflict situations. From stopping poachers to rescuing injured wildlife, the job responsibilities for the wardens are numerous, making each day on the job different than the last.
The series, which premieres Thursday, June 2 at 10 p.m., features Aaron Sims, a game warden and public information officer who jumped at the idea to highlight the obstacles of this unique profession.
“I serve as a public information office for our district, which means I handle the majority of the media inquiry for our district,” Sims said recently in a phone interview. “So that kind of helped the fact that I could act in front of a camera and be well spoken enough to tell a story, but really it came down to enthusiasm. I wanted to share the story, and game wardens have been around since 1895. So my excitement for sharing a story of what game wardens do really trumped everything, and I jumped at the opportunity to do it.”
Sims considers Lone Star Law a documentary series that will offer a firsthand look at how game wardens protect the natural resources of Texas, which are abundant. The terrain runs the gamut, from deserts to woods to coastline.
“There’s decades of game wardens that came before us and did fabulous jobs, and no one ever knew about it,” he said. “And it’s going to be nice to kind of shine that light on those jobs that game wardens do day in and day out, and I’m just really excited about that opportunity and getting to share it with people who may not normally contact the game warden. Everybody doesn’t hunt and fish, but a lot of people have TVs. And I know a lot of people like Animal Planet, and they watch. So if it helps them instill that appreciation for the resources, all the better.”
Because Texas is so large, bordering Mexico, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma, the work varies depending on which area a game warden is patrolling. For example, Sims’ area of the southern panhandle is nothing like the folks working along the coastline or in eastern Texas. A couple commonalities include hunter education and deer hunting, which take place throughout the state; however, in Texas, there are white-tailed deer and mule deer, so the regulations can be different.
“My deer season consists of nine days,” Sims said as an example. “Nine days of mule deer season. I haven’t had a white-tail season, and so that varies from somebody say in east Texas where they have a full three-month-long white-tail deer season. That brings about different issues when it comes to hunting illegaly at night persay or just really being conscious of that timeline with the nine days.”
In Texas, game wardens are also state police officers, Sims said. The main focus is on fish, game and water-safety violations; however, as sworn police officers, they also serve the small counties and smaller communities that populate the rural parts of the Lone Star state.
“I cover multiple counties just for myself as the game warden, and in these counties, there are rural areas,” Sims said of his area near the Texas-New Mexico border. “I may get called into something that has nothing to do with fish and wildlife because I’m also a state police officer, say a reckless driver on the road, driving while intoxicated or a domestic dispute. I may be first on scene and have to handle that, which I know differs from state to state on game wardens, but we actually have to handle what we come across. That working relationship with the sheriff’s office, of course, is key.”
Sims covers his counties by his lonesome, so he enjoyed having the camera operators as partners in his patrolling and being able to talk to somebody while out on the road.
“I’m way out there a lot of the time, and sometimes it gets lonely,” Sims admitted. “So we have some good conversations with the film crew, but in all honesty, people ask was it awkward having somebody there? Did they get in the way? They definitely did not. Within the first hour, they just blended in perfectly. Animal Plant hires the best production crews because they just work so well with us. They match us with our personalities. They’re never in the way, so they’re not trying to get you to do stuff. I just do my daily job. They blend in so perfectly that it’s nice.”
Lone Star Law joins a growing trend of reality series that highlight the unique jobs of game wardens. The lead-in for the Texas series is North Woods Law, a mainstay on the network that follows wardens in Maine. In a week, Discovery will premiere Dark Woods Justice, which follows officials in the Pacific Northwest.
Sims said he’s a fan of North Woods Law, and he’s looking forward to seeing the completed episodes of Lone Star Law. “Of course, everything is bigger in Texas, so it’s going to be really interesting,” he said. “And people are going to have a firsthand look at it, and I want to definitely have that firsthand look too when I watch it. And I want to see the final product, and I’m excited for that.”
He added: “That’s the ultimate goal is to try and tell people how important these natural resources are and that we should protect them, but definitely they’re going to see how unpredictable a day can be in the life of a game warden.”