Hendrik Volschenk (right) of Katy, Texas, talks about life as a Texas Game Warden, managing a family of eight with his wife, Nicole, and his appearances on Animal Planet's reality show, Lone Star Law.
KATY MAGAZINE | March 2018 By Ashley Lancaster
When Hendrik Volschenk was first approached about appearing on the Animal Planet reality series, Lone Star Law in 2016, he wasn't sure he would accept. As a Harris County Game Warden and a father of six children ranging in age from 16 to 2 years old, he and his wife Nicole, who is a school teacher, certainly have a full plate. " At first I was a little apprehensive, but after seeing the crew's professionalism and work ethic, I decided to give it a shot," says Volschenk.
Hendrik, "Hennie" Volschenk is a native of South Africa, where he was a Game Ranger for an Anti-Poaching Unit before moving to the United States. He was also a police officer in Springfield, Missouri for a short time, but always knew that if he were going to live in the U.S., he would eventually end up in Texas.
"I was in possession of a green card and had to make a decision on whether I was going to make South Africa or the United States my home. If it was the U.S., it had to be Texas. I was blessed to have it work out that way and decided to make Texas my home. I moved to Houston because of the diversity of work, culture, and area (land and water)," he says.
Protecting humans and wildlife
Hennie is passionate about living in harmony with wildlife and keeping both animals and people safe, and has given lectures at Houston wildlife events.
"For me there is nothing better than catching a poacher. One time, I got a call about a suspicious vehicle in a wooded area where hunting is prohibited. I arrived on the scene and found the vehicle. After following some tracks I determined a possible entry and exit point in the woods and concealed myself in some brush. I waited for some time until I heard a gun shot from a rifle. I stayed put hoping I made the right decision based upon the ground evidence and tracks that I observed on where the hunter would come out.
Some time later, the poacher came out in the exact area as I predicted. Contact was made and I found out there were two more poachers hunting in the area. I was told they had hidden their weapons in the woods and started walking through the woods away from our location to get picked up on a different road. Through about an hour of negotiation, the two other poachers were convinced to meet me where their friend was caught. Later, warrants were issued and arrests were made," he recalls.
Most days, things go according to plan, but not always. "The call volume is extensive and travel from one side of the county to the other multiple times through traffic can get tiresome at times," says Volschenk.
Now add to that rewarding and exhausting work a camera and production crew, and it can seem like too much to handle. Is Lone Star Law all for show, or does it accurately reflect what a day in the life of a Game Warden really looks like? "Obviously they can't show everything we do because of time constraints, but it does a good job reflecting what Game Wardens do in a day-to-day setting," he says.
Lone Star Law and Hurricane Harvey
On the show, Texas Game Wardens have to deal with everything from drug busts to animal and civilian rescues, poaching to trespassing and everything in between.
One episode in particular hits about as close to home as you can get - the Hurricane Harvey special episode which aired on January 21, 2018. Volschenk, a member of the Swift Water Rescue team, slept on a cot for 5 days with other Game Wardens from around the state and other agencies after Harvey made landfall, and can be seen rescuing Texans from flooded homes and vehicles. He did not see his family for almost a week, and then continued rescuing people until September 3, 2017 - specifically in the Canyon Gate area.
Behind the scenes, Nicole was taking care of their children and organizing meals and supplies to be delivered to her husband and his team while they were rescuing Houstonians.
Volschenk and the other people he worked with represented Texas well. One Lone Star Law viewer commented on Facebook, "I'm from Ohio but I love how the Texas game wardens help everyone in Texas. They all pulled together for their state. Now that is real team work. Keep up the great work."
When he's not patrolling Harris County's roads, rivers, lakes, and fields serving both humans and animals alike, Volschenk dedicates time to his family, and loves to be outdoors. Scuba diving, photography, and rugby are some of his favorite past times.
Look for Hennie on Lone Star Law on Sundays 10/9 Central on Animal Planet.
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