AUSTIN — Cody Hatfield, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game warden stationed in Mason, has been named Texas Wildlife Officer of the Year by the National Wild Turkey Federation.
TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith presented the award to Hatfield at the April 1 meeting of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
"Cody has enjoyed tremendous success in fish and wildlife investigations and prosecutions," Smith said. "Additionally, he is seen as a pillar of each of the communities he has served."
Hatfield graduated from the 49th Texas Game Warden Training Academy in July 2003. His first duty station was Edwards County, but he was transferred to Mason County in March 2008.
"Mason County spans 932 square miles of arguably the best and most utilized white-tailed deer and turkey hunting terrain in Texas," Smith said. "Although Cody is busier than most, he is always glad to be there."
Last year, Hatfield investigated more than 165 violations of Parks and Wildlife or Penal Code statutes. He also logged more than 260 hours of boating patrol, including kayak patrol of rivers in his area.
One of Hatfield’s investigations early last spring led to multiple charges filed against two persons for hunting turkeys during the closed season. The hunters, discovered on the San Saba River in nearby Menard County, had illegally taken three Rio Grande turkeys.
Not all of Hatfield’s conservation efforts involve law enforcement. Last year, he played a role in introducing 49 area youngsters to hunting and fishing. He regularly presents wildlife, hunting, fishing and safety programs to schools, churches and civic groups in Mason and surrounding communities.
Hatfield and his wife Jamie have one son.
Founded in 1973, the NWTF is a national nonprofit conservation organization that has worked with wildlife agencies to restore American wild turkey populations from 1.3 million to nearly 7 million today. Foundation volunteers raise funds and strive to improve critical wildlife habitat, increase access to public hunting land and introduce people to the outdoors and hunting.
The foundation began honoring wildlife officers in 2000. In addition to playing a crucial role in helping to convict wildlife criminals, many wildlife officers volunteer their own time to help educate youth about the importance of wildlife, conservation and hunting traditions.