Elk Hunting

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Posted by Victoria on April 29, 1998 at 07:40:55:

I found in "A Narrative of the Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner (U.S. Interpreter at the Saut de Ste. Marie) During Thirty Years Residence Among the Indians in the Interior of North America" edited by Edwin James, M.D., (Ross & Haines, Inc., 1956) something that helps understand the elk hunting scene at the beginning if the movie.

Pg 88

"When the Indians hunt elk in this manner, after starting the herd they follow after them at such a gait as they think they can keep for many hours. The elks being frightened outstrip them at first by many miles, but the Indians, by following at a steady pace along the path, at length come in sight of them. They then make another effort, and are no more seen for an hour or two, but the intervals at which the Indians have them in sight, grow more and more frequent, and longer and longer, until they cease to loose sight of them at all. The elks are now so much fatigued that they can only move at a slow trot, at last they can but walk, by which time the strength of the Indians is nearly exhausted. They are commonly able to come up and fire into the rear of the herd, but the discharge of a gun quickens the motions of the elk, and it is a very active and determined man than can in this way come near enough to do execution more than once or twice, unless when the snow is pretty deep. The elk when running, does not lift his feet well from the ground, so that in deep snow he is easily taken. There are among the Indians some, but not many, men who can run down an elk on the smooth prarie, when there is neither snow nor ice. The moose and the buffalo surpass the elk in fleetness, and can rarely be taken by fair running by a man on foot."

Tanner was originally from Kentucky, and moved with his family, while still a young boy, to Ohio near the Miami River, where he was taken in 1780. He spent most of his life in Michigan. His narrative is one of the more interesting. He was a hunter the whole time he lived with them, supporting his family by hunting and trapping, and there is much description of his hunting activities. One of the things he talks about id using the screws off his gun as ammo when he runs out, tying his gun together with string.


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