Captain Ken Baker, Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden, is retiring this week after 41 years of service. Baker, a seventh generation Texan, grew up in Olmito on a farm and vividly recalls an incident as a boy that helped point him in the direction of wildlife law enforcement.
Captain Ken Baker said, "All those white-wing hunters were there every September, and there was an individual that must have been a good shot, because I kept watching him. After a while, I went over there and asked him if I could shag the birds for him, and he said no, he only shot them for sport, he did not pick them up. So, anyway I went and told dad and dad came over there and showed him where the gate was|that always stuck in my mind."
Graduating from the academy in 1972, Baker became one of only seven game wardens patrolling the entire Rio Grande Valley; there are now 27 wardens.
He has a fascinating trove of stories about armed poachers he has apprehended, including one he tracked all day before finally finding him.
"I knew he was there you know, and I kept looking, and after a while you could see his rattling horns sticking up above the grass you know. I just walked up to him you know, and told him well, you don't have to hide anymore," said Captain Baker.
After more than four decades spent protecting our wildlife, Baker is hanging up his Captain's badge, but will continue spending plenty of time in the South Texas outdoors he loves.
"The career has been very rewarding. Basically, I think the best part of the career is the people that you meet, you know, some of the old ranchers," Captain Baker said.