Thursday, January 17

It was still extremely dark…dark enough that you could not see your hand in front your face. It was also extremely  cold…cold enough that it was difficult to stand in one spot without moving from foot to foot in an attempt to keep your feet from freezing. There was a constant and chilling wind blowing from the north that at times, would take your breath away and make your eyes water.
As Niškiišeko Peleθi (Eyes of Eagle) crept forward, he could hear and almost smell the presence the the animal close by.
Eyes of Eagle stood completely still in this spot...not moving a muscle as he looked for the animal he sensed. After satisfying his senses by searching the forest as far as he could see…he was assured that the animal was not yet within sight, allowing him to safely crouch behind the large fallen log in front of him. From there he patiently scoured the landscape, watching for movement indicative of an approaching animal or another human. He was not sure if it was an animal approaching or another Indian dragging and or carrying an animal that they had shot and were returning to their camp.
Eyes of Eagle remained very still and vigilant as he watched and waited for movement before him. After what seemed an eternity, he saw movement emerging from between the trees in the distance. Training his attention upon the moving form he watched patiently as it approached, but still remained alert to the rest of the woods around him. He was wary of the fact that there could be another human or animal coming toward him and the one he was now watching, was not what he first sensed.
The moving form in the distance continued to come closer and closer, until Eyes of Eagle could distinguish that it was indeed an animal and he could now tell the color of it. It was a tan or dark yellow and appeared to be long and moved low against the ground…not reaching more than 16 inches high. He still could not distinguish what the animal actually was, but now his imagination was digging throughout his memory, trying to figure out what species it could be.
The animal now entered a small ravine between Eyes of Eagle, which obscured his view of the animal as it approached in this depression. Before he could think of an animal with that color on its body, the animal crested the ravine, stepping into full view some 100 yards away, but directly in front of Eyes of Eagle.
Now, he saw beyond a shadow of a doubt that the animal before him was actually a cougar or mountain lion. Obviously, the mountain lion just winded Eyes of Eagle…for at that precise moment, it abruptly stopped and crouched tight against the ground. There it laid; looking to find what animal possessed such a foul and daunting scent. It had smelled this scent before and quickly associated it with the two legged, human from before and immediately did not like it.  The large cat obviously could not locate the position of Eyes of Eagle, so it laid very still, almost squashing it's body flat upon the forest floor. Minutes seem like hours and the hours seem like days as both sat there waiting for the other to move. Finally the cat could no longer force its self to remain there knowing a human was somewhere close and unseen, so it very carefully began sneeking away. Eyes of Eagle remained very still, watching as the cat slowly crept away. Suddenly, at one point, the cat's uneasiness caused it to break into a full run, continuing on its way. After several moments Eyes of Eagle continued through the woods on his original journey.
Soon a thought entered Eyes of Eagles mind as he stalked through the forest undergrowth. What was the huge cat looking for? Was he out hunting? If so, perhaps there would be no game within several hundred yards of where he came from…for surely the large cat would have followed any game that it winded. This thought convinced Eyes of Eagle to turn in a right angle, continuing away from his present location, heading to new territory.
After proceeding at least two and a half miles through the forest, Eyes of Eagle came upon a group of deer feeding in a clearing. As he stood motionlessly, he watched the group as they fed. They were definitely oblivious to his presence. Eyes of Eagle had learned from his father at a young age that one must approach animals from downwind once they are located. This assures that they do not smell you and you can wait, watch and plan your next move in stalking your prey. Eyes of Eagle watched for some five minutes as the deer continued to feed in the clearing. All of a sudden, he saw a huge racked buck slowly enter the clearing from the heavy brush. Had he not waited and watched for the last several minutes and had decided to move closer for a better shot, the buck surely would ehave seen his movement and ran. Instead, his patience now allows him to remain in his present location and decide the best way to approach the huge buck.
Looking back through his memory, he was now ready to pull past teachings of his father out to use, assuring victory in the hunt. As he watched the deer feed he continued to think back to all the conversations and teachings his father had given him about hunting. Eyes of Eagle slowly drew an arrow from his quiver and knocked it to the bow, taking his first step in stalking the large buck. Very slowly…step by step…Eyes of Eagle closed the gap between the buck and himself, being ever careful not to alert the browsing does all around him. The deer all continued to browse, as Eyes of Eagle crept ever closer. He continued to monitor the direction of the breeze, sensing that it came to him from the deer. If the breeze were to change and Eyes of Eagle could feel it chilling the back of his neck, even for a moment, he knew it would then be imperative that he shoot immediately, for his scent would surely spook the deer when it reached their sensitive noses. The breeze held firmly and steadily flushing against Eyes of Eagle’s face as he closed the distance between himself and the unaware deer.
At fifteen yards, Eyes of Eagle slowly stepped to his left of a tree he was standing behind and with his arrow at full draw, aligned it with the buck’s side, just behind the front leg. There he stood…awaiting some event or chance to release the arrow undetected. A large grey squirrel chattered from behind the deer somewhere, announcing something was not right in the woods. As the deer all looked toward the squirrel, trying to determine from which direction danger approached the squirrel, it afforded the chance to release the arrow on its way…undetected by any of the deer. Eyes of Eagle watched as his arrow approached its mark, striking the spot behind the front leg and immediately disappearing into the animal. The buck lurched forward, bucking and jumping straight into the air before turning and bolting straight way some ten yards before collapsing motionlessly into a pile on the ground. Eyes of Eagle watched intently as the motionless form simply laid there. There was no kick or noise. He knocked another arrow, just in case and approached the downed deer. When he arrived at the was dead.
Eyes of Eagle immediately dropped to his knees and gave thanks to the great Father for his success and that the deer did not suffer. He prepared the animal, slung it over his shoulder and started for the village with fresh meat for his family. What seems so barbaric and brutal to us now…was an everyday occurrence in the life of Eyes of Eagle. It was something unworthy of mention, once he gave thanks for the blessing of sustenance.
This is very simply how my ancestors lived and what they did to survive. They killed when they needed to, but never for fun or without express need. They lived among the animals and used only what they needed to survive, much as you would only go to the grocery store when you need food. There was a reverence for what they killed and they used every last bit of that animal to sustain themselves and the lives of their family and friends. Nothing went to waste and nothing was taken for granted. They tanked God for all his blessings…including life in a wilderness of asceticism.  

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  1. Thank you for the exciting historical hunting trip. Well done Skip. Thank you for sharing. M

  2. Glad you both enjoyed it. My step-son gets on me every now and then to write some stories about my Indian heritage. He likes them too. I guess I'll have to write more. BTW....Niškiišeko Peleθi (Eyes of Eagle)is my actual dream fast Indian name. The Oki revolves around my ability to see animals out in the woods as we drive by on the road...big or small. Vick is constantly amazed that I know so much about wildlife and can see things so quick....even when they are lying down or are amongst brush. She laughs when I call turkeys to the road when we see them in the woods, or get owls to come to us at night by calling them. I always tell her what a deer will do as we watch them to which facinates her. I'll write more Indian Stories from time to time. Thanks again...Skip


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