Born in Durango, Mexico, Jorge Tamayo is the oldest of four boys and four girls. Before coming to America, Jorge’s dad was a ranch hand on the Wheeler Ranch. He brought his family to settle in the Macdona/LaCoste area of Texas when he got a job at Gary Aircraft. Jorge credits his parents for having made sure he and his siblings learned the English language – Jorge didn’t speak English until he was in second grade – and that they were surrounded by good people who were good influences. Everyone in the family circle encouraged the kids to succeed, and Jorge’s parents encouraged them to take advantage of the opportunities afforded in America. As a result, all eight Tamayo children have gotten college educations – with no financial help – and all are in servant roles, carrying on an attitude of serving that goes back to his grandparents.
One of Jorge’s sisters, Irma, is a Senior Chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force Reserves where she works as a nurse/dietician. A brother, Arthur, is a Colonel in the Air Force. Brother Sergio is in charge of an O’Reilley Auto Parts store. Sister Minerva works at Parkland Memorial as a nurse. Manuel, another brother, is Assistant Director of Transportation at SWISD. One sister, Lucina, teaches at Elm Creek at SWISD, and another sister, Nancy, is a chiropractor in Dallas. Jorge says, “Although we didn’t have much going for us financially, our work ethic and desire to have successful careers was motivation enough for us to continue with our education.” And that brings us to Jorge and his career.
Jorge Tamayo graduated from Southwest High School in 1981. Following high school, he went to Lubbock Christian College to play football. When he finished out the year, he returned to attend SAC with a good friend, Mike Tondre. From there, they went to South West Texas State where they were roommates. Jorge earned his degree in agriculture in December of 1987.
Jorge says he had a lot of people who cared about him and helped him throughout his schooling. One of these people is L.C. Gates, a WWII retired Lt. Col. who had a small ranch off the Macdona/LaCoste roads. He had met Mr. Gates while a freshman in high school when a friend of his asked him to feed some cattle for him, as he had to be gone for a couple of days. Jorge agreed. He then met Mr. Gates, and that began a long-standing friendship.
Upon his graduation from college, Jorge began looking for a job. He did a lot of substitute teaching at Somerset, but he continued to work for Mr. Gates. Finally, in 1990, he decided to go back to Southwest Texas to get his education certification to become an ag teacher. He was then hired at Southside High School in 1991 as an ag teacher and remained there till 2002 – eleven years.
Jorge recalls that he always encouraged his students to follow their dreams. Yet, he had not followed his own dream of becoming a game warden. He admits that he did apply for a game warden position right out of college but did not get accepted. Realizing that there are many more applicants than openings, Jorge set aside his dream for a while. Subsequently, he applied several more times and was pleased to have been accepted in March of 2002.
The next step was training, and that meant that Jorge had to leave his home for six months. After graduating, his first duty assignment was Val Verde County where he remained for 2 ½ years. Hoping to one day return to his “home” area, when an opening came up in Medina County – a position that a lot of people wanted – Jorge got the assignment. Even though he didn’t grow up in Medina County, he felt he had come home, “being very familiar with the area,” as he states.
In these sixteen years on duty as a game warden, Jorge admits he has had some interesting encounters – some poignant and some humorous. One of the latter occurred a few years ago when he was out checking on hunters in the southeast part of D’Hanis. The “M.O” is to listen for shots; listen for the engine to fire up; then follow the sounds to the campsite. As dark neared, he heard the ATV moving out, so he pursued. Not that anything illegal had occurred; it is simply the custom to check out the campsites to determine everyone is legally on board. As he neared the site, he could hear people exclaiming, “The Game Warden is here!”
In one vehicle the hunters had two does and tags. Then a truck drove up with a nice buck. Jorge asked to see the hunter’s license. The fellow began to rummage around in his glove compartment – a sure sign that a license doesn’t exist, as men carry them in their wallets – and, sure enough, the hunter could only come up with an expired license. Then he began to explain that he is a preacher from Houston and that he really didn’t intend to hunt, that this was all a last-minute thing. Jorge adds, “Wearing a camouflage outfit, toting a knife scabbard in his belt, donned with binoculars, and carrying a high-powered gun, it was evident that this was no spur-of-the-moment hunting trip.” So, Jorge challenges him on this and adds, “I’ll even bet you prayed before you came that a game warden wouldn’t show up.” The fellow laughed and admitted that “Yes,” he had prayed just that! So, Jorge did write up the ticket and seized the deer. When asked what happens to the deer in such a case, Jorge explained that he donates it to a needy family with a Wild Life Resource document, a paper that states the game warden had given the deer.
Another interesting anecdote involves the mechanical deer. Jorge explained that setting it up is no small task. The entire process takes a while, as the fake deer can’t be maneuvered in one piece. The body and the head are separated. So, the body has to be taken to set in place; then the head is secured. On this particular occasion, Jorge and his partner were working in Del Rio, and he recalls having to scurry across the road, hoping not to be seen, to get the body set up in the bushes. Next, the men had to go back to get the head and return to secure it onto the body. With that accomplished, they wait, and wait, until they hear someone shoot. Hearing what they thought was a gunshot, the men hurried to the scene, but what they discovered was that an 18-wheeler had flown by and hit a real deer, creating a sound much like a gunshot! Frustrated, Jorge and his partner disassembled the deer and called it a day!
By way of educating, Jorge shares that he often encounters a father and son dove hunting. When he approaches the son to ask to see his license, he often hears, “My dad has the license.” So, Jorge asks the dad to see both licenses only to have the dad explain that the boy is hunting with him. Then, Jorge has to inform that everyone who is hunting, even an underage kid, has to have a license. A seven dollar license is a lot cheaper than a fine. Jorge would rather not issue a fine to a teen, but he admonishes parents to guide and teach their kids the proper hunting protocol and to spend time with their children to set a good example.
When it’s hunting season, a game warden has the authority to go onto one’s property, even if it means climbing over a fence. The law gives that right. And Jorge makes it clear to ranchers and hunters that he will show up unannounced during hunting seasons. But when it’s not hunting season, he’ll not show up unless he gets a call.
Jorge feels that as a game warden, he has a good working relationship with all the law enforcement in Medina County, and they help each other out. They protect each other. They protect the community. And they take a proactive approach to their jobs. In Jorge’s case, his job is not necessarily to write tickets but to educate.
Passing forward the lessons Jorge has learned and the blessings of people having helped him and giving him a chance to do good, Jorge is proud of his children and sees them as carrying on that tradition. He says he enjoys being a dad and is very proud of his three children. His daughter, Lesslee (named in honor of Mr. Gates – “L.C.”) is 23 and is a senior at UTSA, majoring in cyber security. Keaton, 19, has been accepted into nursing school as a junior, and he plans to eventually attend Baylor and finish as a PA. Matthew, a senior at Southwest High School, will be attending UT in Austin in August.
Looking back, Jorge considers that he has been very lucky and blessed. He knows a lot of people have helped him and given him a chance. He appreciates folks in his life who have recognized something worthwhile in others, and as a result, Jorge tries to give back in a fair and just way.