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Homer C. Pickens papers

Identifier: Ms-0449

Scope and Content

The Homer C. Pickens Papers span from 1924 to 1994 and reflect Homer's lifelong interest and work in wildlife management. The material focuses on his professional life and his publications, though some personal material is present. The collection is divided into nine series: Personal Files, Professional Files, Writings by Homer Pickens, Writings by Others, Albert Pickens, Oversize Material, Memorabilia, Photographs and Separated Material. The correspondence, diaries both personal and professional, reports, newspaper clippings, oral history audio cassettes and transcripts, memorabilia, photographs, slides and film contained within the collection are concentrated on this wildlife interest. Included is material from his professional life in jobs with the US Biological Survey, the NM Department of Game and Fish, the Atomic Energy Commission at Los Alamos and on the Valle Grande Ranch. Early twentieth century wildlife management ideas including those by such men as J. Stokley Ligon and Aldo Leopold are present within the second series of Professional Files, as are field diaries and reports that reflect the changing state of the profession over the years. Also well represented is the material relating to Homer's published works. These items contain informational files relating to trapping and hunting as well as revealing various incidents of Homer's life. As wildlife management was not only Homer's job but also his life long passion, this information is present throughout the collection and not just contained within one series. Personal information is scattered throughout the collection, in particular in the Writings series, as much of the material was used to write his autobiography.

Much of the material was written by Homer, such as the wildlife conservation studies, reports, memos, and various rough drafts of his published works, Modern Techniques for Trapping Coyotes and Bobcats and Tracks Across New Mexico.

The correspondence in the collection ranges from personal letters, letters of opinion, book orders, and other letters regarding the books, as well as a number of letters from Senators and House representatives regarding a variety of issues. These correspondents include Eliot Barker, J. Stokley Ligon, Pete Domenici, Joseph Montoya, Manuel Lujan, Joe Gant, Forest Service officials, Ed Mechem, Bruce King, and Clinton P. Anderson.


  • 1918 - 1996

Access and Use Restrictions

This material may be examined by researchers under supervised conditions in the Search Room.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with copyright and other applicable statutes.

Copyrights associated with this collection have not been transferred and assigned to New Mexico State University.


Born July 7, 1903 near Cumby, Texas to William Matthew Pickens and his second wife, Nancy Belle Jones, Calvin Homer Pickens (known as Homer) was the second of five Pickens children from William's second marriage. Two sons from his first marriage, to Celine Jane Burrows, Lonnie and Albert, were only infrequent visitors though Albert would play a large role in Homer's life. In 1919, the Pickens family moved from Texas to Durant, Oklahoma. Here Homer would meet his future wife, Edna Burton.

At the age of 21, Homer decided to leave Oklahoma and moved to Borger, Texas to work in the oil fields. In 1927, a letter from his half-brother Albert, encouraged Homer to come to New Mexico to join him. Homer arrived in Albuquerque in April of 1927 and he quickly joined Albert in his work with the US Biological Survey, first as camp cleaner and then as a trapper. Thirteen months later, Homer's qualifications landed him a job in Roswell, New Mexico working in rodent control.

Over the years, Homer continued his relationship with Edna Burton via mail, and in 1930, with a pay raise, he asked her to marry him. They married January 7, 1930, in Phoenix, Arizona. Edna found the role of wife to a wildlife management expert to be lonely, as Homer spent much of his time out in the field, so after a month of life without him in Roswell, she insisted on joining him. Edna soon realized the work she was doing to help Homer mirrored that of the young boys hired by the US Biological Survey and she asked them to employ her.

On May 6, 1931, Homer joined the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish as trapper, patrolman, hunter and public relations administrator. His assigned area encompassed the Northeastern part of the state and Edna and Homer moved to Las Vegas, NM. Here the Pickens family grew with the arrival of the first Pickens' son, Homer Jr., who was followed by Jack and Jimmy and daughter Betty Ann. The New Mexico Game Commission assigned Homer to track and hunt the mountain lions throughout the state. He would spend the next four years trapping lions.

The Department of Game and Fish next transferred the Pickens family to Albuquerque, where Homer continued in his public relations work. Department Director, Elliot Barker appointed him Assistant Director in 1940, where his role would include supervision of trappers and public relations work. As part of this work, he filmed many movies. Included in these was a rather famous trip he took with Smokey Bear, the singed cub rescued by Forest Rangers from a forest fire in the Capitan Mountains. Elliott Barker assigned Homer to accompany the bear to Washington D. C. in 1950.

In 1953, Homer received an appointment as Director of the Game and Fish Department, a role he would fill for the next 5 years. In a well publicized political battle in 1958, Homer was terminated as Director of the Game and Fish Department by the Game and Fish Commission.

Following his forced retirement, Homer spent a brief time working in insurance at the Clinton P. Anderson Company but quickly returned to work in wildlife management as conservation officer for the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in Los Alamos. He would work for the AEC until he retired in 1968. Even after his official retirement, Homer continued to work. He acted as wildlife and fishing manager on the Valle Grande Ranch for the Baca Land and Cattle Company until 1980.

Homer eventually decided to share his knowledge of hunting and trapping and in 1973 he wrote and published Modern Techniques for Trapping Coyotes and Bobcats. This pamphlet, sold mostly through Homer's own efforts, was reprinted in 1981. At the end of the 1970's, Homer was urged by family and friends to share the fascinating story of his life by writing an autobiography. In 1980, Tracks Across New Mexico was published.

Homer spent the rest of his days pursuing his lifelong interest in wildlife management and conservation, continuing to hunt and trap and with his family. At the time of his death he was a member of the Ballut Abyad Shrine of Albuquerque, a life member of the Scottish rite and 32nd degree Mason. Edna Pickens died on December 7, 1985. Homer died February 19, 1995 at the age of 91.


20.5 Linear Feet (40 Boxes)

Language of Materials



Personal papers of Homer C. Pickens relating to his career as wildlife conservationist in New Mexico. Also included is material regarding the writings of Homer Pickens.


  1. Pamphlets and Reports
  2. Published works


  1. RG80-072 Gift of Homer C. Pickens, Jr.
  2. RG82-021 Gift of Homer C. Pickens, Jr.
  3. RG89-106 Gift of Homer C. Pickens, Jr.
  4. RG94-062
  5. RG95-007 Gift of Homer C. Pickens, Jr.
  6. RG96-015 Gift of Jack E. Pickens
  7. RG99-171 Gift of Homer C. Pickens, Jr.
  8. RG2002-119 Gift of Homer C. Pickens, Jr.
Guide to the Homer C. Pickens papers
Processed by Maura Kenny
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//New Mexico State University::Archives and Special Collections//TEXT (US::NmLcU::ms0449::Homer C. Pickens Papers)//EN" "nmlcu1#0449.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the New Mexico State University Library Archives and Special Collections Repository

Branson Hall
PO Box 30006
MSC 3475
Las Cruces New Mexico 88003 USA