Kevin Winters has dreamed of becoming a Texas Game Warden since he was a schoolkid. For a boy from the west side of San Antonio, it was a big dream.
“I fished with my dad, but I had never experienced hunting,” said Kevin. “My family struggled to make ends meet, and it just wasn’t something we did. When my middle school coach found out I was interested in the outdoors, he invited me to go on a hog hunt. I was hooked!”
His high school coach was also an avid hunter and invited Kevin and his friends to spend time at his hunting lease in Hondo. Kevin shot his first white-tailed deer there and learned more about what it means to be an outdoorsman. He also met a Texas Game Warden for the very first time.
“I was interested in law enforcement and knew about police officers and sheriff’s deputies, but I didn’t really know about game wardens,” he said. “He was so friendly, and I was very impressed with his uniform, especially his cowboy hat. I knew at that moment that’s what I wanted to do when I got older.”
Kevin did his homework and learned that he would need to pursue a bachelor’s degree to even think about becoming a Texas Game Warden. That was another big dream.
“I was the first one in my whole family to step foot on a college campus,” he said.
He pursued an associate’s degree in criminal justice, and continued to research what would it would take to make a good game warden candidate. Gaining some law enforcement experience was on top of his list, and he saved up to pay for tuition to the San Antonio College Law Enforcement Academy. That opened the door to his first job as an officer with Edgewood Independent School District, which led to a job with the Converse Police Department. His dream of getting a bachelor’s degree to qualify him for the Texas Game Warden Academy was sidetracked for a while.
“I had to work to help my family out financially, and I thought it would be good to get some law enforcement experience, so I focused on that for a few years.”
He spent another couple of years as a Border Patrol agent and realized he needed to refocus on his dream of becoming a Texas Game Warden. By this time, he had married his high school sweetheart, a teacher, who supported his decision to go back to school. He completed his bachelor’s degree while working full-time, now as a police officer with the City of Live Oak. Degree in hand, he applied to be a Texas Game Warden cadet in late 2015.
“I read somewhere that you have a better chance getting into Harvard, that there’s like a 3% chance of getting in, so I didn’t have my hopes too high,” said Kevin. “When I got the call, I was just overwhelmed. I had worked so hard, for so many years, and I could hardly believe I was on my way to becoming a Texas Game Warden.”
He headed to the Game Warden Training Center in January 2016, while his wife was pregnant with their second child. She held down the fort at home, while Kevin completed the grueling seven-month training regimen. From there the young family was stationed in Webb County, and then moved to Harris County a few years later.
“I loved working the South Texas brush, and also spent a lot of time in inner city neighborhoods in Laredo doing outreach,” said Kevin. “I put in for the Harris County position, because I wanted to learn about commercial saltwater enforcement so I could be a more well-rounded game warden.”
And then another opportunity presented itself: a chance to apply to be a member of the Texas Game Warden K-9 Unit.
“I grew up loving dogs and had always admired the K-9 teams at the police departments I worked at,” he said. “I applied and was thrilled to be selected. My K-9 partner and I will be supporting Texas Game Wardens all over the state.”
Kevin picked up his new partner, Tex, in early August and they’ve begun their intensive training together. Kevin and his wife are now back in their hometown of San Antonio raising their children near their families. For Kevin, it’s truly a dream come true.
“I’m back home after four years in my dream job, in my dream position as a Texas Game Warden, and now I’m part of the K-9 Team. My wife got her teaching job back at the school district she loved before we left in 2016. And my kids will grow up near their grandparents. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I’m very lucky and very blessed.”