The Hunter and the Alligator

One winter there were many hunters living in a village, all of whom, with one excep­tion, had killed a great many deer. But one had met with very poor luck, and although always contrived to escape unharmed. He had been away from his village three days, and during that time had seen many deer, but had not been able to kill a single one. On the third day, when the sun was overhead, the hunter saw a huge alligator resting on a dry, sandy spot.

This alligator had been without water for many days, and was dry and shriveled and so weak that he could scarcely speak. He was able, however, to ask the hunter where water could be had. The hunter replied, “In that forest, only a short journey hence, is a clear, deep pool of cold water.” “But I can not travel alone; I am too weak to go so far. Come nearer that we may talk and plan. I can not harm you; have no fear,” said the alligator.

At last the hunter went nearer and listened to the alligator, who said: “I know you are a hunter, but all the deer escape from you. Now, carry me to the water and I will then make you a great hunter and tell you how to kill many, many deer.” The hunter hesitated, as he feared the alligator, and then he said: “I will carry you, but not unless I may bind your legs so you can not scratch, and your mouth so you can not bite me.” The alligator rolled over on his back and held up his legs, saying, “I am helpless; bind me and do with me as you will.”

Then the hunter bound with a cord the alligator’s legs and mouth. Then he lifted the animal to his shoulder and carried him to the water. When they reached the pool the hunter loosened the cords and the alligator plunged into the water. It went down, then returned to the surface three times, then went down again and remained a long time. At last he rose again to the surface and spoke to the hunter, saying: “You brought me to the water; now listen, and if you do as I counsel you will become a great hunter. Take your bow and arrows and go into the woods. You will first meet a small doe, but do not kill it. Next you will meet a large doe, but you must not shoot this one, either. Then you will see a small buck, but this likewise must be spared. Lastly you will encounter a very large, old buck. Go very close to it and kill it, and ever afterward you will be able to kill many deer.”

The hunter did as the alligator told him, and never again was without venison in his camp.

Bushnell, David I., Jr. The Choctaw of Bayou Lacomb, St Tammay Parish Louisiana. Washington Government Printing Office. 1909.

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