Mary Humphrey
Mary Humphrey


Wildlife biologist Mary Humphrey of Sonora officially marked her retirement from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department on August 31, 2021, after 38 years.

To recognize the occasion, a small luncheon hosted by her coworkers was held Tuesday, August 31, in Kerrville.

Additionally, Humphrey’s family is planning a get-a-way trip in September, according to daughter Kory Humphrey.

Mary has been the local biologist for Sutton, Schleicher and Crockett Counties for the majority of her career.

Commenting on what the future looks like, Humphrey said, “I’m scared to death. When you get to thinking about it, 38 years is a long time. I’ve been a fixture for a while.”

A 1983 graduate of Stephen F. Austin University, she majored in Forestry with an emphasis on Game Management, then spent time in the piney woods at the Guadalupe State Park before landing a long-term job with Texas Parks & Wildlife in March 1986.

“I laid down roots – enough to raise a family and put 38-years under my belt,” Humphrey said.

In addition to more than three decades of service in her field, Humphrey also pioneered the way for others, as one of the first female wildlife biologists.

Looking back on her career, she said she felt the most gratitude for being so fortunate to have worked with so many knowledgeable, dedicated and passionate people.

Anyone who has worked with Humphrey knows she herself is one of the best examples.

Sutton County Game Warden Derek Rogers said after relocating to Sutton County, where he currently serves, Humphrey was most helpful in his acclimating and her knowledge of the area as well as the landowners is invaluable.

“Having been the biologist in Sutton County for over 30 years, Mary has been a tremendous asset to local ranchers, as well as the community of Sonora,” Rogers said. “She has spent countless nights conducting deer surveys, answering questions from the public, and helping anyone that needs assistance managing the diverse wildlife in the area. Often, she could be seen coming into her office with her hands full, carrying a laptop and folders of paperwork, but always had a smile. I am lucky her office was next to mine. Mary will be missed at TPWD but I am thankful that I had the opportunity to work with her these last years.”

Kallie Bilby, daughter, said she and her family are both surprised and excited and about Humphrey’s retirement.

“When you hear the name Mary Humphrey, the first thing that comes to mind may be ‘the local biologist’, the snake lady, or my favorite, that lady who’s always pickin’ at deer on the side of the road.” Bilby said. “Well, after 38 adventurous years with Texas Parks and Wildlife she is crawling up out of the bar ditch and retiring. I, for one, never thought the day would come. My dad, on the other hand, has been waiting for this day for at least 10 years. As he would say, ‘now you can finally go through all your junk mail!’”

In addition to a master wildlife biologist, Humphrey is noted for expertly juggling family too.

“By the first week of August, we in the Humphrey household knew that mom wouldn’t be around much. Being the only biologist for three large counties, she had a lot to do,” she explained. “Dad, Kory, and I would have to figure out how to not burn the house down while she was out running a spotlight survey. She was usually gone by supper time and wouldn’t be back home until late into the night. But that didn’t stop her from attending every cross country or track meet with chicken salad sandwiches and chocolate milk in tow. Blood child or not, if you wanted something to eat and she had it, it was yours. She never hesitated to sign up for fifth grade field days, so she could teach the importance of snake identification and population control with her ever famous ‘Oh, Deer’ game, helping in the concession stand for home football games and in all her spare times she even taught me how to age deer for my fifth grade science project.”

In her many years, Humphrey has been blessed with the opportunity of running spotlight, helicopter, her favorite according to her daughter, and daylight surveys, teaching new landowners how to run a spotlight line, untangling goats caught in fences, raising young orphaned deer, finding frogs in stock tanks to feed her snakes, hunting a pet snake that escaped from her youngest daughter’s school ecosystem project, searching for deer on I-10, and holding conversations about everyday life while stuck in the freezer at the local deer processing plants.

“She really is a jack-of-all trades when it comes to wildlife,” Bilby said. “If you have a funny looking deer running through town, she’s your gal to call.”
As she works to “close out” this chapter in her career, Humphrey said, she is exploring her options for the future.

“There is still a lot to be done before turning over the reigns to a new biologist,” Humphrey said. “I still have a lot to do.”

Then, there is “fishing in October, the holidays, grandkids…” Humphrey said. “I will still be spending time with wildlife – the four legged kind and the two legged kind.”

“I have said this for a very long time, and I think if not all, most of the local landowners will agree that the new biologist, whoever it may be, will have some very big shoes to fill,” her daughter added. “She loves her people just as much as they love her. It doesn’t matter what day, time or who, Mary is always there for any and every one. I hope you enjoy retirement Mom. Life’s going to be calmer (wink, wink) now so don’t panic, you’ll be OK!”