STEALTH AND CUNNING

Nov 20, 2013 by

B: Fred was a kind of a game warden–Fred Galford — those Lesters, that old man Ab Lester, he was out there, he had as fine a time with these trouts you know, and by gosh he could just kill all the trouts you wanted. You’d take a gun, you didn’t need no hook, ’cause they’d git with their backs a’stickin’ out. And them big’n’s, they’d be big’n’s. And Fred comin’ along and he heared somebody a’shootin’ out there in the river, and he slipped out and here, here was ol’ man Ab Lester, and he had a big load of trout, he’d killed I don’t know how many . . . “Mr. Lester” he said, “I tell yuh, it’s aginst the law,” he said, “to kill trout” . . . . he said “Hell, I don’t pay no ‘ttention to the law” he said. He knowed Fred’s a game . . .he said, “I don’t pay no ‘ttention” He said, “there’s a big ‘un.” BANG. He said “Here try that ‘n” and he shot that. . . . He said, “Come here, I wanna show yuh another lick”. “Now” he said “try it now.” And Fred said ” ‘deed I can’t”. He said, “Take the gun and kill that’n and I mean ta kill that’n” and Fred took the gun and killed … and he said “Here’s part of the trout.” He said “I’ve got more, I’ll kill some more” he said as they go along up, and he said “There’s a’plenty” and he give Fred a big mess of the trout. ” ‘deed” Fred said “them Lesters ‘ll do anything, won’t they?”
B: Ol’ man, I b’lieve it uz ol’ man Ab Lester. I’ve seen him–the ol’ man Ab Lester. An’ he trapped all th’ time, now that’s the way he’d make thousands a dollars. Now he put in from the time, from the time the fur got good, he’d put in th’ whole winter, an’ it tuck him all, it tuck him that, well it jus’ tuck him, it jus’ kep’ him busy, goin’ around a trappin’. He’d catch thousands a dollar’s worth now, fur wasn’ very high. But he, this ol’ Dawson kep’ on follerin’ after him, this game warden kep’ on follerin’
after him. He said he know’d there’s somebody a follerin’ him all the time fur he could see their track but he’d never let this ol’ man Lester find him. At last, one day he decided that he’d, that he’d stop on the trap line and see who’s that was a follerin’ after him, what he’s a follerin’ him for. And he said that he hid on the trap line, an’ a’terwhile he said he seen ol’ man Dawson after his tracks, and, he just cocked the gun, an’ letting ol’ man Dawson have his spyin, an’ he just walked on up to him with the gun, jus’ ready, an’ asked him what he uz a follerin’ after him fer. An’, awe he told him he’s just a, an’ he said “You’ve been a follerin’ me” he said, “now for a good long while,” he said. “Now,” he said, “listen, I’m a gonna tell you sumpthin’.” He said, “The nex’ time that I ever catch you a follerin’ after me, now” he said, “listen.” An’ them Dawsons uz mean, too, now I’m tellin’ ya. Now they was mean, them Dawsons was. “Now,” he said, ” the nex’ time,” and he had the gun. He said, “The nex’ time I ever catch you on my trail,” he said, ” righ-chyere’s where you’ll be a layin’,” he said now. “Now,” he said, “you git yore back track an’ take on home right now,” he said. “I don’ mean nuthin’. . .” He said, “Don’t never foller me again.” He said, “I’m a trappin’,” an’ he said “I kill anything I want.” That’s what he told him, said, “I kill anything I want an’, an’ I.. pay.., but,” he said, “don’t never let me catch you a follerin’ after my trail anymore.” Said “Let that be yore las’ time now.” Old Man Dawson took him at his word and didn’ foller after him anymore
B: Yes, he made, he made well, way over a thousan’ dollars. Fur was cheap, because he put in his time. He’d start in early in the Fall. He used these deadfalls more ‘n he did steel traps. That’s what he used to trap mostly with. Course he had a lot of steel traps, an’ course they was right smart a game. Why he trapped all over the head of Williams’s River, all over that country, and then back over here on Elk. He’d even make a trip back over in there, an’ trap all that Stoney Crick country ‘n’ more. An’ that’s how big a trap line he run.
D: Well.

Notes: I got my first rifle when I was 6 years old in 1952. By 8 years of age, I had a shotgun and was out hunting with the men. It was unspoken, but understood, that ‘game wardens’ were the enemy. They were local men who were not bad in and of themselves. They were just ‘putting their noses in where they were not welcome’. We were seldom doing anything wrong; it was just the principle of it. We locals claimed the 330,000 acres (present day records) of national forest in our county as our own camping, hunting and fishing preserve. The city slickers who were able to have easier lives needed to stay where they came from and leave us alone. The setting here is that Ab Lester had built himself an empire which he was going to defend and win. He got the first game warden included in the illegal shenanigan by ‘forcing’ him to shoot a trout himself and then eating the evidence. That same game warden was an old man when I was a boy, which would have made him a young man at the time. The second game warden was a man called Dawson. Burl said: “now them Dawsons were mean”. This being the case, Ab Lester needed to be meaner than “them Daltons were mean”. A controlled internal murderous rage would maybe be the only thing the ‘mean Dawsons’ would understand. Otherwise, they might wait for him later when he was checking his trap line. The result of this was that Ab had won out against all comers.

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