Bear Hunting

Native Americans have many stories of bear hunting and tracking.

Bear Hunting

There were four hunters who were brothers and loved to go bear hunting. No hunters were as good at bear hunting as they were. They never gave up once they began tracking their quarry.

One day, in the moon when the cold nights return, an urgent message came to the village for the four hunters. A great bear, one so large and powerful that many thought it must be some kind of monster, had appeared. The people of the village whose hunting grounds the monster had invaded were afraid. It was time for the four brothers to go bear hunting once again.

The children no longer went out to play in the woods. Men stood by the entrances of the long houses of the village guarding them with weapons.

Each morning when the people went outside they found the huge tracks of the bear in the midst of their village. They knew it would soon become bolder. The four brothers knew it would soon be time for them to go bear hunting.

Picking up their spears and calling to their small dog, the four hunters set forth for that village, which was not far away. As they came closer they noticed how quiet the woods were. There were no signs of rabbits or deer and even the birds were silent.

On a great pine tree they found the scars were the great bear had reared up on hind legs and made deep scratches to mark its territory. The tallest of the brothers tried to touch the highest of the scratch marks within the tip of his spear. "It is as the people feared," the first brother said. "This one we are to hunt is a monster bear."

Each autumn the hunters chase the great bear across the skies and kill it. Then, as they cut it up for their meal, the blood falls down from the heavens and colors the leaves of the maple tree scarlet. They cook the bear and the fat dripping for their fires turns the grass white.

If you look carefully into the skies as the seasons change you can read this story. The great bear is the square shape called the bowl of the Big Dipper. The hunters and their small dog, which you can barely see, are close behind.

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