MF 025 Honest Woodsman Collection
Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History: MF 025 Honest Woodsman Collection
Number of accessions: 2
Dates when interviews were conducted: 1980
Time period covered: 20th century
Principal interviewers: William Warner
Finding aides: catalogs
Access restrictions: none
Description: This collection consists mainly of a series of interviews with David Priest, retired game warden, about his experiences as a warden, trapper, and guide.
NA1288 David Priest, interviewed by William Warner, September 26, 1979 – March 9, 1980, Winn, Maine. Priest, a retired game warden, talks about his life and work in the Maine woods; his interest in hunting, trapping, and fishing as a child; trapping as more profitable than service as a game warden, which led him to abandon his first stint as a game warden; the seasonal cycle of trapping and working as a fishing guide; application process to become a game warden; responsibilities of a game warden in the late 1940s and early 1950s; the methods of gangs whose business was selling poached deer to hunters; changes over time in how confiscated illegal game and road kill was distributed; anecdotes from his years as a game warden; skinning animals and preparing the pelts; techniques of deer poachers; hunting bobcats with dogs; emotional connection and respect for the animals he hunted and trapped; bears terrorizing lumber crews; guns and which guns he used for specific purposes; his childhood in the 1920s and entering the workforce during the early 1930s; using skunk scent in traps; various traps for bear and beaver; legal manner of trapping, his dislike of Maine game laws, particularly those which allow Native Americans exemptions; combat in Italy during WWII; a poem about game wardens written by a fellow warden; changes in trappers’ attitudes and methods over time; definition of “woods queer” and an example of such a man; multiple cases of searching for people lost in the woods; hunting porcupines; apprehending poachers; discussion of photographs; release of caribou onto Mt. Katahdin; tragedies on Mt. Katahdin; use of his woodsman and hunting skills in the Army; poisoning foxes; odd jobs that made him money during his childhood; traditional medicine used by his grandmother; canoe designs and which ones are most useful for which tasks; cookouts as an outdoor guide; cases where the legal system did not serve justice, particularly as regards to unjust and biased judges; night hunting and apprehending poachers; pine martins and ways to trap them; responsibilities of an outdoor guide; varieties of snowshoes and materials used to make them; a notable poacher who used a plane to spot beaver; his respect for poachers and lack of personal animosity; use of salt pork to heal infection; anecdotes about encounters with wildlife; interview with Lillian Priest about life as David Priest’s wife, particularly while he was in the military during WWII; decline of sportsmanship over time; state regulations allowing for too many animals to be taken by 1979; coyotes as a menace; blowing ledges and beaver dams; fishing stories, guiding for Wilson’s East Outlet Camps; proportions of resident versus non-resident lawbreakers; and food served at camps. Text: 244 pp. catalog; plus copies of information sources related to Priest and his work, including genealogical history, newspaper articles, and official state documents, for which major themes are the search for people lost in Baxter State Park, notably the Mott brothers in 1965, and news relating to Baxter State Park laws and regulations; Warner’s biography of Priest is also included. Recording: T 1370 – T 1372, T 1389 – T 1390, T 1411, T 1467. Photographs: P 3473 – P 3490, P 3629, P 3647 – P 3682.
NA1364 Donald Clendenning and Eddie Lambert, interviewed by William Warner, July 28-29, 1980, Orrington and Greenville, Maine. Clendenning discusses David Priest and their friendship (Priest was interviewed extensively by Warner, see NA 1288); experiences hunting, fishing, and trapping with Priest; Priest’s commitment to his job as a game warden; his approach to apprehending suspects; and Priest’s personal characteristics and skills. Lambert discusses his relationship with Priest, one of a poacher and a game warden who were cousins; poaching being overlooked by game wardens during the Great Depression; working as a wilderness guide; conniving to get money for guide shirts from customers; playing jokes on out-of-state visitors and city people; various exploits, both his alone and those Priest was involved in; and lack of commitment among game wardens by 1980. Text: 45 pp. catalog. Recording: T 1483 2 hours.