Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/59

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

a German huntsman will stick a nail taken from a coffin into the fresh spoor of the animal he is hunting, believing that this will prevent the quarry from leaving the hunting ground. Australian blacks put hot embers in the tracks of the animals they are pursuing. Hottentot hunters throw into the air a handful of sand taken from the footprints of the game, believing that will bring them down."[1]

The second priest of the Order of the Bow made a long speech, in which he told the hunters that the rabbits had been made slow, and they should get ready for the chase. After the ponies had rested a little, all mounted and set out. The more devout, however, before starting, went up near the fire, dismounted, untied their boomerangs, and got out a piece of bread. Advancing to the fire, they first said a prayer, then held their boomerangs in the flame or smoke a moment, and then threw a piece of bread into the fire as a sacrifice. Others dismounted and, without saying a prayer or offering any bread, just passed their boomerangs through the flame and remounted; while others only rode near the fire and, without dismounting, simply waved their sticks toward the flame and went on. The great majority, however, did not come near the fire at all. As I witnessed this feature of the hunt, I could not help silently observing that among the Indians there are degrees of devoutness as among white men.

The Priest of the Bow made a second and a third speech, and by this time the horsemen were well scattered over the plain. This was covered with sage-brush and scrub cedars. There are two species of rabbit, the cotton-tail (ok-she-ko) and the jackrabbit (pok-ya). There was no attempt to surround a large territory and drive the rabbits; but, as one was started up, his pursuer would give a yell, and in a few moments the harmless cottontail or jack would be surrounded by fifty or sixty horsemen. As they close in on the rabbit, those nearest it throw their boomerangs, and whoever hits it is off in a moment to claim and pick up his game. If the rabbit is not already dead, it is at once dispatched by a blow with the hand, and then it is raised to the mouth, and the hunter inhales, believing he is taking in the spirit of the rabbit. He then ties it to his saddle, and is ready for another chase. The cotton-tail often takes refuge in a hole, and then there is a grand rush to the place to reach in and pull it out. Grubbing-hoes, digging-irons, and fingers are all used to enlarge the hole, and at last the poor rabbit is pulled out, with perhaps only half his hide on. Thus it was, for three or four hours, just a succession of rallies and deploys. At the end of that time nearly every one had one or two rabbits. Those on foot seemed to fare as well as those on horseback. I am told that

  1. J. G. Frazer, in Folk Lore, June, 1890.