From the Pen of Robert L. Cook
Justin Hurst, Texas game warden, beloved husband and son, and loving father, became the 16th Texas game warden to lose his life in the line of duty when he was shot and killed on March 17, 2007, while helping other law enforcement officers subdue and capture a person suspected of illegal road hunting. It was his 34th birthday. The shooting occurred following an hour-long high-speed chase in Wharton County. Game Warden Hurst personified what the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department represents. He was passionate about wildlife and natural resource conservation. He was a pillar of his community, he cared deeply for his family, and he was a faithful public servant. His death is a great loss to the people of Texas.
After graduating from Texas A&M University, Justin began his career with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in August 1995 as a waterfowl biologist on the mid-coast of Texas. During his six-year tenure at TPWD’s Peach Point Wildlife Management Area, Hurst’s passion for waterfowl and the marsh habitat was evident in everything he did, whether it was banding mottled ducks or working up alligators. He had a great reputation for his can-do work ethic and extensive knowledge about waterfowl, developed during his teenage years as a goose guide on the coastal prairies.
It came as a surprise to everyone who knew him when Justin announced his desire to become a Texas game warden. Hurst saw an opportunity to make a difference in another aspect of wildlife resource conservation and was selected as a cadet in the 48th Texas Game Warden Academy. While at the academy, Hurst not only worked extremely hard to be the best at everything, but he also shared his knowledge about waterfowl and habitat management with fellow cadets and actually taught duck identification techniques. His classmates referred to Hurst as “Super Cadet” because of his diligence and drive. His immediate supervisor referred to Justin as one of the best of the young Texas game wardens, dubbing them “The Whiz Kids.”
After graduating from the academy in August of 2002, he was stationed in Brazos County for about a year, and when a game warden slot came open in Wharton County, Hurst’s expertise in waterfowl made him an ideal candidate. With his transfer to El Campo, Hurst was able to return to the landscape he cherished and quickly developed relationships with area landowners, hunters and the community. He was as dedicated as he was passionate about his job.
Justin Hurst is survived by his wife, Amanda, and son, Kyle Hunter, age 4 months, his parents, Allen and Pat Hurst of Bryan, a brother, Greg Hurst of Denver, and his in-laws, Larry and Jeanie Wilcox of Denton.
Those who knew Justin Hurst are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of this fine young man. Yet, because we knew him and knew his commitment to the conservation of our state’s natural resources and to the people of Texas, and because of what he so willingly gave to all of us, we must re-dedicate ourselves to be better stewards of the world that we live in and to the conservation of our wonderful fish and wildlife resources.
As you enjoy the great outdoors of Texas, remember that every day and every night of every year there are those dedicated individuals out there managing, conserving and protecting our incredible natural resources — individuals who commit their careers and their lives to the fish, wildlife and natural habitats of the great state of Texas. I encourage you to join them, help them in every action you take, whether it is simply by doing a better job of water conservation in your home; or by supporting your local park, wildlife area, natural area or backyard wildlife habitat; or by dedicating your knowledge, hard work and resources to fish and wildlife conservation. Be part of the solution. Get outdoors.