Outdoors in Maine: The legend of unsung hero 'Uncle Tim'

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Uncle Tim Pollard was a game warden’s game warden. At least that’s the impression you’ll get if you read a tattered, faded clipping of an article from the Maine Sunday Telegram circa 1926. At that time he was the longest-serving game warden in Maine history.

A Dover-Foxcroft native, Pollard, or more precisely, Game Warden Captain Pollard, was born in 1848. By 1866 he was working in the woods as one of Maine’s few “appointed” game wardens who was not paid.

Here is his recollection of those days in the Maine woods: “There were no deer then, and no moose to amount to anything, but there were a few caribou, especially in the Jo Mary and Katahdin regions. The first time I ever climbed Mt. Katahdin was on an investigative trip for the Department. I found 13 caribou in one place that had been killed and left where they dropped. Some of them were partly skinned and a little meat had been taken. A man from Massachusetts did it, but we were never able to get him.”

Pollard had a reputation for being a rugged, hardy individual, even at 78 years of age. He told the Sunday Telegram reporter that a few days before the interview he had hiked 20 miles on snowshoes. In fact, he also claimed that he had once snowshoed 200 miles from Jackman to Fort Kent. If it’s true, he would have had to travel along the Allagash River and cross at least eight very large lakes.

In all of his many years in the woods, under all manner of conditions, Pollard’s closest shave happened in the winter of 1914.

In mid-January he headed across Roach Pond in sub-zero temperatures, expecting to find warmth and shelter at The Farm, normally an occupied camp on the other side. With nobody there at the camp and no warm hearth to comfort him, Pollard then headed out for Kokadjo. He came up against “the wickedest day I ever saw.”

Pollard recalls “My face froze first … then the back of my neck, and finally my legs … below my short mackinaw. At 2 p.m., it was 28 below zero with a terrific wind down the lake.”

He finally made Kokadjo, all but dead from the cold.

“I was a long time getting over that trip,” he said.

Interestingly enough, it is evident from Pollard’s comments that, even in the late 1920s, Maine’s whitetail deer populations were cyclical and at the mercy of wintering conditions. Overall, deer were far more plentiful late in Pollard’s career than they were in the early days back in the 1800s. This may be explained by the increase in farming and the transforming of timberlands into open agricultural lands.

Pollard singled out the bobcat as the wariest critter in the Big Woods.

“I’ve been in sections where there was plenty (bobcats) an’ never saw one in my life,” he said.

How long after the newspaper article did Captain Pollard continue to enforce Maine’s a fish and game laws? Apparently, Pollard, despite his media attention in the 1920s and his many years of dedicated service, never made it into any Maine historical archives. At least, Google never heard of Game Warden Captain Tim Pollard.

“Uncle Tim” was an unsung hero, like so many other law enforcement officers who perform their duty with courage and commitment until the day they quietly retire the badge and turn in their sidearms.

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program, “Maine Outdoors,” heard at 7 p.m. Sundays on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. He has authored three books; online purchase information is available at www.maineoutdoorpublications.com.

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