Myths and Tales from the San Carlos Apache
Prayers for Hunting Deer
They say it happened at Ests’unnadlehi’s house. She was sitting with her grandchildren when she spoke. “Grandchild, hunt for deer,” she said. “I will make a good house for my old one is getting shabby.”2 When she said this the grandson went to hunt.
“Djingona’ai, my father, I spoke to you. I am going after that which you look upon. You must bring it to me quickly. Bring me quickly the largest male deer upon which you look.”
Then he came to it. He saw the deer he meant come walking toward him. “Wind, my brother, do not warn him from me,” he said. He started toward the deer. He put his head up over the ridge and saw the deer walking along looking about. Because he had prayed the deer did not see him. He came close to him and shot him. The shot killed the deer and he brought him to the camp. “Thanks, my grandchild,” his grandmother said.
“Hunt again,” she said. “Go for your sister,” Ests’unnadlehi said. “Hunt toward the west.” “I am going where my sister is walking,” he said. “You must hurry, my sister. I said I would come to you before the sun is very high.” He prayed to the wind. “My brother, ‘hurry’ I said to you.”
The same thing happened to him again. The deer, a female, came to him, not very far away. He killed it and brought it to the camp. “He means that it shall be this way,” Ests’unnadlehi said. “Let it be that way,” they said. “We will keep it up.”
He started after it from halfway between the top and the bottom of Ests’unnadlehi’s house. “Make a fire that you may eat before you go,” she said. She put a pot made of bacine filled with black mouth blood on the fire. She dipped the foam off with a cup made of bagaiyc.
“Now I will go for the deer,” he said. While he was going after it he says: “Ganowan, my brother, what will you do? You have some deer for pets. Bring me one of them anyway I ask of you.” “Djingona’ai, I am your child.” “Black Whirlwind, my brother you must hurry to help me, I say.” “I am after you, I say. It shall be the largest male deer and its body shall be large. It must not be looking around, because I have prayed to you.”
As he walked around he came to it. He considered how he should approach it. He concluded it would be better to go to it behind the ridge. In that way he came near it and shot it, killing it. He carried it home.
“You women who are menstruating must not eat its head. You must not eat its heart. If you do I cannot kill more deer and I shall be in bad luck.”
All the men killed deer. They entered into a contest to see who would kill deer first and who would kill the largest number of deer. “This one, Bullsnake, he is the best hunter. He kills only large bucks. Panther Boy here, is the same kind of a hunter. Ganowan too is that sort and so is Ganjin. Well, let us go hunting quickly,” they said to each other. The men started out but Bullsnake still lay on his bed. “The men went long ago,” they told him. “Well, I will go,” he said but he was still lying down.
When the other three men had gone to hunt, each in his own direction, Panther Boy started. He had gone up only one ridge when he pulled a hair from his beard and stood it up in a little canyon where some brush stood in front of where he was hiding. When he had placed it he went back to his station on top of the ridge and sat down. When he had been sitting there a short time he wondered what might be happening, and he put his head up. He looked at the hair from his beard which he had set up and it was still as it had been at first. The next time when he put his head up it was still as before. There was no change the third time and he again withdrew behind the ridge. When after a little while he put his head up again a deer had come there. He saw it lying there and it had antlers. It was the hair from his beard that did it.1 He stepped toward the deer and when he came near it he shot it, killing it. He put it over his shoulder without opening it and carried it to his house where he put it down.
None of the men who had gone hunting with him had returned. He thought about Bullsnake, wondering if he had gone to hunt and concluded he would go to see. As he came to the door Bullsnake was pulling out a large buck. Panther Boy was still the first to bring in a deer. This one who first brought in a deer had someone to help him. He sent wind after Ganowan and when he came where the deer were and started to stalk them the wind went among them and they smelled Ganowan and ran away from him. He came back from the hunt without killing anything. He sent Buzzard after Ganjin. When he came to the deer and began to stalk them Buzzard stuck a wing up behind a ridge further over than the one on which the hunter was walking and flapping his wings, frightened the deer, who saw him and ran off. Ganjin did not kill a deer. Panther Boy won the contest.
This is the way they used to do. They prayed:
“Gandixi, you are my brother. Hurry and bring me the one you like.” “Ganjin, you are my brother. Hurry and bring me the one you like.” “Panther Boy, there is food in your camp. Hurry and bring me the forked horn deer that you raise.”
“Bullsnake, bring me what you raise at your camp.”
The people speak thus when they pray that they may kill large deer.