Tale of The Poor Hunter And The Alligator Power

One time the hunters went out on a two months’ hunt. They took their wives with them. After they had gone a long distance from home they camped. Among these hunters was a poor man and his wife who were hungry and starving, while every one else was killing plenty of game and having an abundance to eat. The poor man would go out to hunt from early in the morning till sundown and come home with nothing to eat. He continued to hunt day after day, expecting to find deer or some game, but always returned without anything. The people would not give him anything to eat and would make fun of the unfortunate man because he could not kill anything. One morning he arose early and started out and hunted all morning. About noon he heard some one calling him, and the person was a long distance away. He started to see who it was and what was the matter with him, and when he got there he asked the person why he called. “Well,” said the person, “I want to find out where there is water.” The hunter told him there was some water a short distance from where they were. He did not know who the man was, for there was no such person among his people. The unknown person asked the man to carry him to the water, so the hunter told him to get on his back and he would carry him. When they reached the water the unknown man told the hunter to take off his clothes, and so he did, and then the unknown man told him to get on his back, saying: “It is now my time to carry you on my back. Shut your eyes and do not open them until I say so.” The man obeyed, and when the unknown person told him to open his eyes he did not know where he was. Then the unknown person told him that he wanted him to come and see what he had. The hunter looked and saw the heads of all kinds of animals. “Now,” said the unknown person, “there is what I have killed, and I will tell you why I brought you here. I am going to give you some of my powers that you may kill game as I do. Point out the heads of the animals that you want to kill.” The man pointed to the largest deer head, bear head, etc. “And now,” said the unknown person, “you must not tell any one how and where you obtained your powers. All people call me Alligator, and I will give you these powers as long as you are able to hunt.” Alligator then told him to shut his eyes, and when he told him to open them he saw that he was upon dry land once more. Alligator told him to go hunting, and so after he put on his clothes he started out to hunt.

He did not go very far until he saw four big deer coming toward him and he killed every one of them. He dressed them carefully and then left them while he went to his camp. When he reached his camp he found his wife there, but nothing to eat. He went out and led up two of his horses and asked his wife to go with him. They arrived at the place and found the four deer. The man put two of the deer on one horse’s back and two on the other one and they started back to their camp. As they came into camp with their horses loaded with meat, everybody at the camp saw them and wondered, for they did not think the man could ever kill a deer. After that time he never failed to bring back much meat when out hunting. When the people started back to their homes they discovered that this man, whom the people had always made fun of, had been the most successful of all the hunters. He had killed the most deer, and besides he had killed the largest deer that was ever seen by the people, and he had killed the most bears and the most of every other kind of game.

The people named him Deer-Head, because of his braveness in killing big deer. Deer-Head lived with the people many years and was well known among his tribe, but one time he disappeared. It was but a short time until the people noticed that he was missing, and they wondered what had become of him.

Deer-Head had only one younger brother, and when the people would go and ask Deer-Head’s wife where he was she could not tell, for she did not know where he was or what had become of him. Finally one of the men went where Deer-Head’s little brother was, and he asked him if he knew where his big, brave brother was, and he replied that his brother had gone home; that some one came after him during the night and had taken him away that same night. Then they asked him if he knew which direction they took, and he said that he did not know where he went, but that he said he was going home.

While out hunting a long time after this one of the men found a large deer and the deer did not try to get away from him. When he came near he shot the deer, but the deer kept on walking very slowly and the man followed until the deer finally went over the hill where the man could not see him, and then he heard some one calling him to come on, and it was the deer that was talking. The man did not keep on, but turned and started back home. When he got home he told the whole story of the deer, and then the people thought the story of the deer was true, and that Deer-Head had changed into a deer.

Caddo, Legends,

Dorsey, George A. Traditions of the Caddo. Washington: Carnegie Institution. 1905.

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