The Great Mastodon Hunt 5/10/2004
Home Up The Black Hole Literary Review Wm. E. Allendorf, Prop.

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Editor's Note:  This is another experiment in participatory fiction.  Many thanks to RickBin and the guys over at 24HourCampfire.com for the inspiration.

 

The Great Mastodon Hunt
by William E. Allendorf aka SHAMAN


With the kind and helpful participation of my brothers at the 24HourCampfire.com


Forward:

Count me in on the list of guys who aren't using anything fancy.

Count me in on the list of guys who aren't particularly interested in the latest gadgets.

Count me in on the list of guys who think too much of the image of hunting has become commercialized and too many folks have been taken in by it.

On the other hand, there isn't a whole lot that seems to sell a magazine that isn't somehow related to the technology of hunting. 

Personally, I attribute it to the fact that we're mostly a bunch of guys, and we mostly want to talk about physical reality rather than the emotional/spirtual side. It's a male thing.

If any of you follow my writing here on the 'Campfire, you'll notice I tend towards the latter. Probably that's why I didn't sell a whole lot of articles when I was actively trying to market them. "Glurge" was one term that was applied. Some time in the process I realized I was not writing to sell anything, but rather because I just wanted to. I kept writing, but stopped submitting.

Hunting skills. I've read hundreds of articles over the years; I've got a shelf full of books that attempt to discuss hunting skills. Despite years of honest effort, it has been very hard to pick up an honest skill from reading. Maybe some of you have and I'm just dense. However, I'd say writing successfully about how to go about bagging an animal is just plain tough. I don't mean writing something that sells; I mean writing so that someone else honestly understands at the end and can apply.

I just finished up turkey season. It was a fantastic season even though there was no big payoff. 20 years of experience was put against 10 days of hunting. So there I was manuevering in the dark of first light, trying to navigate without benefit of flashlight to a fallen log that was within 50 yards of a roost. It had taken hunting with Uncle Bobby 15 years ago to teach me how to be quiet enough to pussyfoot to a roost undetected. It had taken the intervening 15 years to actually succeed in moving my gargantuan form through the woods that quietly. It had taken three seasons of scouting to make the correct guess that on this day of season, given this set of weather conditions, there would be turkeys roosted by that log. It had taken all twenty years to be able to reach in and pull out just the right call and have the gobbler cut me on my first tree yelp, and all twenty years to know when and how to pack up and move 80 yards to another set up when the boss hen came and cut off the gobbler on his way in. If the thunderstorm had not interrupted me an hour later, I might have closed that deal. As it was, I trudged home in the rain trying to make sense of it all, and trying to explain to myself how it had all come to pass.

I am to the point in my life as a hunter that I am beginning to trust myself as my own guide. Years of hunting under the pressures of limited time, limited funds and marginal land finally are giving me a payoff. When I climb into a stand, I know I will probably see deer. When I give my first call in the morning, I know a turkey will answer. Would it be possible for me to write a book that successfully conveys that?

Let me get weird on you for a moment. In actuality, I've been toying with that idea for years now. My conclusion is that the shelf full of books and the hundreds of articles are mostly all right, but the failure of all of them is the teaching of the great balance and harmony that must exist for a hunter to connect with his prey. For those of you who do successfully hunt, this is a part of your being. For those of us who are still learning it is a great ineffable that defies description. It's that "hunting sense" that you just seem to have to one degree or another, and always wish you had more of.

Take these questions as examples:

1) How do you pick a tree to set your stand? How do you pick which stand to take? Watch your own process. If you stalk, how do you make choices in the field? There are an infinite number of choices as you go. How do you make the ones that succeed?

2) How do you balance what you wear and what you carry to the hunting conditions? Most books would have you carrying 10-20 pounds more of "essentials." What really IS essential? What isn't? Why do you carry it?

3) When was the last time you "just knew" you were being watched by game. How did you know?


Don't bother answering me on these. Answer them for yourselves and listen to yourself as you formulate your answers. What you are hearing are echoes from the well of your hunting sense.

It's actually far easier for us as men who hunt to discuss bullet weight, arrow selection, and tree stand mechanics. It is terrifically hard in any manner to take past experience knowledge and extrapolate to a successful generalized method. It is much harder still to communicate that to another.

We have this need to communicate, however. We have this need to share our experience. It is a deep emotional need. Probably my shamanic predecessors sat around the campfire listening to the great hunters of the tribe argue over things like:

"Thag, you're full of mastadon snot! Anyone knows that if you want penetration, you want your points to be two fingers wide and seven long."

"Thnorn! It's 3 fingers wide and 4 long! I've got the tusks to prove it."

"Og, there you go again on point length! I tell you it's all having good flakes that hold an edge and good fresh guts for sinew. You need that connection between point and shaft or else it gets all wobbily going through bone. I bashed your father's head in over this 20 moons ago, and I'm about ready do it again."

"That's it, guys!" shouts the one-armed, one eyed Frag, "If you're not man enough to jump out of tree and slit their throats, you should all stay behind with the women!"

Meanwhile, my cultural progenitor sat back putting some new feathers on our turtle shell rattle, knowing full well that HE controlled what really went on in the hunt. 



Pages: 1 | 2 | >> (show all) 
hornhead 
Member 


Reged: 04/05/04 
Posts: 213 
Loc: Calgary, Alberta (Canada) THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT 
#290161 - 05/10/04 07:52 PM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



Thought i'd try something different on the board. this stems from shaman's posting on hunting skills which you might want to catch because it's very well written, very funny and very much tongue in cheek. and it might put you in the mood to check this out. 

so-
you are one of a small band of prehistoric migratory hunters who have fallen behind the fall migration.
setting- late fall, have had a few frosts, ponds not frozen over yet, but in 2 weeks the snow will be here. (so says shaman's ancestor)

area is the east foothills of the rockies - pretty much the same as it is now - mixed forest, large trees, pines up on the slopes. no cliffs, no big rivers. mostly creeks, streams and beaver ponds.
you've entered a good valley- large - lots of small game - birds, rabbits, beaver etc. however deer and their like have moved on.

You have 2 weeks provision and the tribe is 4 hunters , a shaman/flint knapper (he's old) maybe 6 women & some children . dogs are used to help move the camp. the camp is skinned wigwams but in winter you look for caves,burrows or dig them and occasionally build small structures.
animals that you were trying to follow on migration - deer, moose, wild horses (riding them hasn't been thought of and they are small)

The hunter/scout report nothing for 2 days ahead but there is a huge mastadon (10-14') in this valley, who has also fallen behind the migration but still moving. (real mastadons don't use maps!)

So you (and anyone else who wishes to post) are sitting around the camp fire with shaman's ancestor, trying to decide whether to continue chasing the migration and possibly get snowed in or go after the mastadon and winter in the valley.

You have flint spears, small game slings,flint impliments. no bows or atlatls. 
it seems the best idea is to bag the mastadon because that and small game etc. will easily get you through the winter. but how to do this? Bear in mind that you are part of a small close knit band and any idea has to be accepted , not ridiculed but reasoned as to why it might fail. it's a tribal decision as to the best idea.

tried a posting before, not a reply but hope springs eternal! 

--------------------
Life sucks , and then you die! 

Post Extras: 

KC 
Campfire Regular 


Reged: 03/22/01 
Posts: 264 
Loc: Colorado Springs, Colorado USA Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: hornhead] 
#290196 - 05/10/04 09:52 PM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



hornhead: 

Gee there are only four hunters and we only have flint spears and it's a 14' monster olifant. Let's say we sneak up on it and attack with spears. It might stomp someone to death. That would reduce our hunting capability by 25%. What if it gets two of us? Bad news. Too risky. 

We need some way to trap the mastadon so that we can kill it at short range without risking injury to the hunters. Maybe a pit trap. If we could get ahead of it, build the trap then lure it into the trap. Maybe then we could kill it. It will take a lot of work to dig a trap that big and lots of time. Probably more time than we have. 

You say we're on the eastern slope of the Rockies. I live there. Maybe we could lure it into Ice Cave Creek (just east of present day Palmer Park) and into one of those holes. We wouldn't even have to dig the pit. It's already there. And once in the hole, nothing can get out. A man could not get out without help. So we need a way to lure it into the natural trap. 

How does one entice a 14' giant elephant to follow you without trampling you to death? It runs fast in one direction but it's not very quick, it can't turn corners very fast. It might chase us. We have to be quick to avoid getting stomped. Sounds pretty dagerous. There are no doctors and the shaman can't cure crippling injuries. 

What if it just runs away from us? We could devise a plan to show ourselves strategically so that it would run away from us and in the direction of the trap. How about fire. We could start a grass fire. The grass ought to be very dry by this late season. Maybe a series of fires strategically planned to drive it into the trap. 

We only have a couple of weeks to do this. We can't risk getting caught in the deep snows of the high mountains. We need to follow the creek down south to that big river (the Arkansas) where we can build some huts out of willow branches, mud and grass then gather lots of firewood so that we can avoid freezing to death. So we better get on it. 

By the way. How come we haven't managed to store any of the food that we gathered during the summer. Remember that 90% of our food is what the women gather and preserve in the summer. Hunting is largely ceremonial and although it provides some valuable protein, it is a relatively small amount contributed to the total food supply. The women provide most of the nourishment through their gathering. 

Yes there are four hunters but their most important role is that of warrior rather than hunter. Their primary responsibility is to provide security for the fertile territory from which the women gather most of our food. We are not alone as the only humans trying to survive. We have to be careful and stealthy. There is more to worry about than getting stomped by the mastadon. We have only four warriors and the Utes could just as easily kill us and enslave our women and children. 

Let's try to kill the olifant in 10 days but it's not the end of the world is we fail. If we don't kill the mastadon there are lots of other alternative food sources that we rely upon much more than big game. We can cut the cambrian from aspen trees, boil it in clay pots and eat it like noodles. We can gather Kinnickinnick and Juniper berries. Both stay on the plant until spring. We have to eat them together because one stops up your bowels and the other loosens them. 

Did we miss the annual harvest of acorns, pinion nuts and berries? How about all the fish we trapped? Why didn't we grind them up, mix them with the nuts and berries and make pemmican? We need salt to make pemmican. Didn't we make our annual trek into that big flat valley (San Luis Valley) this year to gather salt from the salt pans? We would starve if we didn't use those kind of skills and depended only on big game for our food supply. 

There will be rabbits, mice, insects, grubs, prairie dogs, birds, roots, fish and more available most of the winter. We need to catch and gather lots of them. They do not pose a threat to the hunters. We need to get down to that big river and spend some time turning over logs, just like the bears do. 

In the spring there will be cattails and fresh veggies. We know which are good. We live here and not to know is to starve. 

KC 


--------------------
Wind in my hair, Sun on my face, I gazed at the wide open spaces, And I was at home. 

Edited by KC (05/10/04 10:08 PM) 

Post Extras: 

catnthehat 
Campfire Ranger 


Reged: 12/19/03 
Posts: 1389 
Loc: Alberta Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: KC] 
#290261 - 05/11/04 06:19 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



I say run 'em with the dogs over one of the convient bluffs, like 
"head smashed in". Only it is not called that till later years.
In the prehistoric times it may have been called
"Dinner is served?" 
Catnthehat 

--------------------
4" of water, 40yards of shelf? Ya, I can make it! 

Post Extras: 

KC 
Campfire Regular 


Reged: 03/22/01 
Posts: 264 
Loc: Colorado Springs, Colorado USA Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: catnthehat] 
#290275 - 05/11/04 07:44 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



catnthehat:

I like the idea of using dogs. Have we trained them to drive the beast? Must have.

You know, hornhead said that we are in the eastern foothills of the Rockies and it's Fall. Shouldn't we expect several million bison to be casually migrating south along the foothills of the Front Range, generally heading towards their winter habitat in Oklahoma and Texas? If we went down to the Arkansas River and setup a semi-permanent winter camp, we could watch for the bison. When they get south of us we could set grass fires and drive them over the edge of that cliff on the rim of that small river (the Purgatiore). It's not all that steep or high so most will make it OK. But inevitably some will stumble and get trampled. That will mean lots of meat and hides too. We did remember to gather lodge poles when we were in the mountains, right?

KC 

--------------------
Wind in my hair, Sun on my face, I gazed at the wide open spaces, And I was at home. 

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hornhead 
Member 


Reged: 04/05/04 
Posts: 213 
Loc: Calgary, Alberta (Canada) Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: KC] 
#290666 - 05/12/04 12:54 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



damn i had a great post just about done and got the blue screen of death!
this idea came up when a mastadon/mammoth skeleton was found with a flint spear point imbedded in a bone. so i thought how does someone under 5' do [bleep] like that?
i can't percieve of hunting moose with a pointed stick (more or less cuz most flint spear points are not much larger than broadheads)
thank you for your posts.
the biggest problem with this scenario is not to confuse the time with the plains indian time. this is appox 9000 years ago.
smashed in head? 3000 or so years. (boggles the mind doesn't it)
so we have established -
there are ice traps, we have flints, there are pre-utes around. (assuming their ancestors were as tuff as the utes we should avoid them), dogs- no horses which leaves out lodgepoles.
we are the original back packers. how much can a 5' 150# male haul all day (80#?), shamon (yuppy professional- 50#?)
women(50#) less infants if they have them. dogs? 20-30#
figure it out and we have approx 700-900# of skin shelters, food, sleeping robes, cooking utensils etc.
so we cache- and the shaman is the only one with a memory who can tell us where they are.
dogs? consider coyotes at the lowest ebb of their gene pool cuz they've been kicked out of their pack and have adopted us as a new pack. cut them loose and god knows where they might go. then we'd have to fight them for whatever they downed. they are a beast of burden, a warning system and a meal when required.
so catnhat to set them on a quarry is not a good idea cuz if they fail they may come back and hunt us.
aj- fire i don't think is a good idea as it to may turn on us and perhaps the pre utes might see it . the ice trap i like because it would preserve the meat too. are there more traps towards the river?
but with fire and flint we are on the cutting edge (pun ;>) of prehistoric civilization.
i would assume by aj's post he is in favour of passing on the mastadon and heading to the big river.
catnhat is gung ho for the mastadon hunt. 
we are divided.
so-
the mastadon is heading in the general direction of where we want to go
i think a small party ( 2hunters 2 women) should continue ahead, watch masty, and mark the trail so the others can follow them. they'll have to travel light ( so the rest will have to haul more). the problem is the masty is sort of ambling along cuz he can handle snow and cold better than us.( and if they were all that smart we'd be tripping over them today)
i'll be on this scouting party cuz i'm going to be gone until sunday. then i'll tell you what the masty is up to. i also have an idea of how to do this but haste makes waste.
5 days @ 10 miles/day? see you in 50-60miles.
ponder what might be in the cache- i think our winter gear, robes and all those groceries aj refered to.
we have walked this trek before , the old ones showed us the way in past seasons. we will come this way again.

(catnhat watch aijai , i've a suspicion he might be one of those pre ute shadow warriors- maybe the setting of grass fires is a signal to his buds)

welcome to out campfire aj for i see wisdom in your thoughts.
(two faced bastard that i am- you'd think i was a politician or something )
be happy 
bwe 

--------------------
Life sucks , and then you die! 

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hornhead 
Member 


Reged: 04/05/04 
Posts: 213 
Loc: Calgary, Alberta (Canada) Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: hornhead] 
#290670 - 05/12/04 01:06 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



ps were there buffler around then? probably but natives starved to death cuz they missed the migration. perhaps we're heading there to join the other bands to organize a jump? it was a big undertaking at smashed in head- tribes joined together to do it. quite fascinating really- almost a military undertaking ( been to smashed in head) i seem to recall it was called that cuz someone was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got their head sm in. could be wrong - good thing we have a shaman- can't even remember where i left my car keys. (don't laugh where are yours?) 

--------------------
Life sucks , and then you die! 

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Klikitarik 
Campfire Regular 


Reged: 08/12/03 
Posts: 378 
Loc: Alaska Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: hornhead] 
#290676 - 05/12/04 01:27 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



"Fa Into Fheart". I think those were the words the shaman threatened to speak to anyone who wavered in their desire for the hunt, even of so great a beast. 

Being "fa into fheart" was a fate worse than being a woman which, I understand, was a pretty darned lousy fate if they even allowed you to live long enough to see it.

I'd say we'ed go for it. Knowing that the Siberian Yup'iks even now still go after marine creatures many times larger than themselves in boats still made of walrus skins I suspect the idea of fear is not well acknowledged. 

I'd say we harass the bugger until he has enough and tries to rub us out. When he does that will let the guy who draws the short straw plant the but of his spear in the dirt drive the business end into his guts. If we keep at him long enough he'll likely be ours. That is he'll be ours until something meaner than we are decides to take him from us..... 

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hornhead 
Member 


Reged: 04/05/04 
Posts: 213 
Loc: Calgary, Alberta (Canada) Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: Klikitarik] 
#290792 - 05/12/04 11:39 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



i believe you're right klikitarik. you have to take the game when it comes your way. to wait for the buffalo migration (or whatever they were back then) is to wait for something that might not happen. my thoughts on doing in masty? snare him with a horse hair rope that is attached to a big log. it'll tire him out then poke him with our spears until an artery is hit.
femoral or caratoid cuz they are close to the surface (assuming nothing is different from todays critters)
of course in modern times grizzlies and black bears head to a gun shot. so you're right about your concerns of something bigger and meaner than us. could you tell me what your name refers too? 
pretty swank
but i think aj's sign off is one of the best i've seen yet.
there be poets among us. 

--------------------
Life sucks , and then you die! 

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shaman 
Campfire Regular 


Reged: 12/28/02 
Posts: 559 
Loc: Cincinnati, Ohio Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: hornhead] 
#290800 - 05/12/04 11:52 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



Hmmm. 

Okay, count me in. I took down some notes while I was waiting for a server to come up. 

First, this is a marginal situation. We’re talking life at the edge. As a writer of fiction, my mind demands to know how such a situation arose. My immediate guess is that an incursion of outsiders had gotten these folks displaced and off their routine. As it is, they may get through it, but it will require luck. The appearance of a mastodon is extremely lucky. One anthropologist theorized that if a group of hunters ever bagged one of these (I think he was talking mammoth, but who cares) it would have been talked about for generations. Cool, if we’re going to fantasize about a dream hunt, might as well dream up a whopper. 

Second, I will assume the area is game rich in general. If they were displaced, they hopefully were displaced into someplace that other folks were not. 

Third, I will assume that there is enough savvy left in this group not to become mulch. All they need is some lucky breaks and some slack. 

Lastly: The shaman in these situations would have been indespensible. It is doubtful he would have been the best flint knapper as well. More likely, he would have either been a man amongst the women, a woman amongst the men, or just a plain old-fashioned nutcase who’d been given a special place in the group. Shamans were usually somewhat transgendered, and prone to living a life somewhere between the men and women. They were often cross dressers to one degree or the other. Some were drawn to it as an alternative lifestyle; some were true hermaphrodites. This is what they derived their magic from. Thankfully, I am none of these, and drew my perceived powers from other sources. But as a shaman who actually had a tribe at one point, I can tell you it puts you apart from the others. Long story—some other time. 

What would have made him important is his role as an alternative power in opposition to the politics of head bashing. What I mean is this: the leader of the group would have been in constant conflict with the beta males for dominance. In a small group this can lead to a lot of head bashing and unnecessary fighting. With the shaman thrown into the mix, the situation changes. When Thnorn tries to wrest power from Og with aid from Thag, Drek, the shaman, falls to the ground in a fit and when he comes to, he announces that Crag (the dead patriarch) has spoken to him from across the veil and that Og is still the chosen one. The tribe can take it or leave it as they see fit, but one cannot argue with a dead patriarch or any other disembodied spirit that sprouts from Drek's mind. Whether Drek actually believes the crap he’s spouting is up for debate. He’s not saying, and neither am I. 

Setup: 
Just for grins, let’s keep the characters I threw up in my earlier posts. More for expediency than anything else: 

Og: The Alpha male. He gets his pick of everything. Think Gov. Arnold in his prime with a big dose of brutal pragmatism thrown in. Doesn’t have to be a good hunter. He eats before anyone else. Most of the kids in the tribe are really his. 

Thnorn: The perfect #2. Even more of a pragmatist. Even his play for Og’s role did nothing to diminish his standing with Og. As they say in the Sopranos: “It’s only business.” 

Thag: The good hunter, but unlucky in everything else. Women glom onto him because he’s a good provider and he's a nice guy, so he can never get mad enough to beat them. The problem is that he's a hunter; he's never home. Mag is his only genetic heir, and that was a complete fluke. 

Lag: The unattentive, lazy, shiftless guy who got carried through life on the charity of others. 

Frag: Used to be a really good beserker/grotie in his prime. Now he's a cripple. 


Drek: discussed above 

Hag, Bag, Nag, Sag, Mag: The women 

Kids: who cares about kids. 


I'll let you all mull this over, while I dig in my closet for a few things. We're going to need some powerful mojo to pull this one off. Now let's see, where did I put my turtle shell rattle? 

Edited by shaman (05/12/04 04:22 PM) 

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Rolly 
Campfire Ranger 


Reged: 06/22/01 
Posts: 1303 
Loc: Coeur d'Alene, ID, USA Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: shaman] 
#290833 - 05/12/04 01:32 PM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



Given our restricted numbers of hunters and the fact that winter is coming on and further that the meat from a mastadon will spoil soon after it is dead without good refridgeration, I would vote to acquire safe, easier to get food until either more numbers of hunters could support our group or we began to migrate into the deer, elk etc. populations. Rotten mastadon wouldn't help our group either and frankly after a week, I think fresh elephant would get to smelling. To take on a mastadon sounds rather heroic and probably the yearning of all us big game hunters, but it is terribably dangerous for spears and rock throwers. Even a small injury like a broken leg or arm could mean death for the injured person or several others dependent upon the hunter for their food and shelter. Nope, sorry guys, I'd vote for safe food like fish and berries, roots, etc. until meat of the smaller variety could be obtained. 

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hornhead 
Member 


Reged: 04/05/04 
Posts: 213 
Loc: Calgary, Alberta (Canada) Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: hornhead] 
#290857 - 05/12/04 02:46 PM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



my apologies kc got your name wrong. told you my memory sucked. gotta be from eating all these damn berries and dried fish. don't know where "aj" came from. hmmmm. have to check it out with the shaman. again - apologies. 

--------------------
Life sucks , and then you die! 

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shaman 
Campfire Regular 


Reged: 12/28/02 
Posts: 559 
Loc: Cincinnati, Ohio Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: hornhead] 
#290861 - 05/12/04 03:00 PM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



The blue berries keep you regular.

I keep telling you:


The black berries keep you from getting scurvy.

The red berries help you stay up all night.

The green berries-- don't eat the green berries.


. . . or was that the blue berries. Oh drat!

The purple berries with the white spots help you remember.

The red berries with the white spots help you to forget, but make sure you clean off the white spots first, otherwise they work like the green berries.

. . or was that the blue berries?

Oh, what the heck! Let's mash up all the berries and dump them in this hollowed out log and let them sit for a fortnight. Then they'll just make us happy and stupid!

Where's that rattle? 

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KC 
Campfire Regular 


Reged: 03/22/01 
Posts: 264 
Loc: Colorado Springs, Colorado USA Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: shaman] 
#290920 - 05/12/04 04:11 PM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



Shaman:

We are really going to need some mojo if we're going after a mastadon. I still don't like the idea of taking that much risk. I'm with Rolly on that. Anybody who questions my courage better watch their back. But I will go with the group if that's everybody's decision. Since the mastadon is going the way we want to go, there's no loss in following him. I'm not aware of any natural traps between here and that big river to the south. 

Here's another thought. Lag is a lazy, worthless, shiftless, liability to the clan. He contributes nothing and eats more than his share of the food. If we really get hungry we could kill and eat him. Shaman might devise some kind of religious explanation to justify this practical activity. The hunter who killed him would get his power maybe. I would be happy to do the deed and shrink his head for display on my lodge pole. 

Frag is also a liability. But since he's a cripple, he can't get away. If we killed and ate Frag first, then Lag would just depart. But we can cannibalise Lag and save Frag as an emergency supply of fresh meat. Unless of course, if Frag is our flint napper. That would mean that he makes a valuable contribution. 

By the way, Eohyppus dissappeared from the fossil records at the beginning of the Pleistocene Era? So I don't think Eohyppus and Homosapiens ever inhabited North America simultaneously.

Fire on the Great Plains is a very common thing. Whenever the sun is high in the sky at mid-day and the grass has turned brown, the "White Power of the Thunder God" strikes from sky and starts fires that keep burning for millions of acres, until all the grass is burned or until it rains. So maybe the pre-Utes won't notice another column of smoke. It is He, the Thunder God, who gave us the secret of fire. I would think that a shaman would already know these mystical truths. 

How old are these kids? Any adolescent males about to emerge as producers? How about the young females? Any of them about to become worth fighting for?

KC


--------------------
Wind in my hair, Sun on my face, I gazed at the wide open spaces, And I was at home. 

Post Extras: 

Klikitarik 
Campfire Regular 


Reged: 08/12/03 
Posts: 378 
Loc: Alaska Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: Rolly] 
#291018 - 05/12/04 07:06 PM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



The meat won't spoil, however, as "we" typically think about it. It just won't be fresh meat anymore. If this animal gets bagged, the poor women are going to work their tails off taking care not just of the meat, but the other parts of the animal as well. Much of the meat will be dried. Some of it may be aged or fermented too I suspect.

Native peoples knew how to take care of and make food out of the resources. Some of it may not appeal to many of us in the way we usually think about food. (Salmon buried in the ground will ferment into a cheeselike substance under the right conditions. I understand it is quite a delicacy though that may be difficult to accept. Before anyone judges that however, remember how many folks abuse various members of the cabbage family not to mention how that white bovine product is perverted into other forms of "food.")

There is evidence that these animals - mammoths anyway- were not infrequently used as food by humans. There is even the theory that humans may have had a significant impact on their demise. If that is true then they may not have been as wary and defensive nor as intelligent as their modern counterparts are. 

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shaman 
Campfire Regular 


Reged: 12/28/02 
Posts: 559 
Loc: Cincinnati, Ohio Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: shaman] 
#291155 - 05/13/04 08:23 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



Okay: I’m back. I got my mojo bag, my turtle rattle and my antler headdress on. I’m cocked and locked and ready to rock. Give me a minute or two to get into the proper trance state. . .

. . .

Day 1-3: The party was running short of food after the long haul from where they were displaced. The wigwams were erected at the mouth of the valley, where the river empties into a larger river. From the looks of it, the valley ends up in the mountains, so anything in the valley was not going anywhere except through them. Thag returned from hunting with news of the mastodon. Drek proclaimed he has seen snow in a dream and Crag has shown him the mastodon dead in the snow, but there is much blood and it isn’t all mastodon. An argument ensued at the fire that night.

Thag: Wished to keep the mastodon penned up in the valley, and concentrate on other sources of meat first. 

Og: Wanted an immediate party assembled to kill the beast. Frag and Thnorn were all for it.

The others were too uninformed to form an opinion, but argued for and against nonetheless. Drek offered to intercede beyond the veil. Somebody pulled out a small skin drum and began beating a steady slow 4-beat. Drek dug into his pouch, pulled out a leaf rolled and tied with thread. He pulled out bones, pebbles, feathers, and other assorted nonsense. The rolled leaf was lit, and passed. Everyone inhaled while the others chanted. The women and children observed from a distance and beat things and chanted to help the hunters on their way. Some were going into trance themselves without benefit of the herb concoction. After all at the fire had partaken, Drek bogarted the joint with a flouruish and was soon seen with his eyes rolled back up in his head. You would have thought he was dead, except the rattle in his hand continued to shake at a steady beat for the two hours that the spirit journey took.

First, Drek assembled the group at the margin between this world and the next. This was a laborious process. It took a while for everyone to meet up. Finally, with Frag and Lag bringing up the rear, Drek took them through the portal, a small hallucinated cave opening in the wall of a hallucinated mountain.

For the first hour, the hunting party wandered in darkness. Their bodies are stuck with the pricklings of a dark thicket of wild rose and thorn trees. It is almost impossible going. Some of the party were not up to the task and dropped out into sleep. It was finally Thag, Frag, Drek, and Mag (Where did she come from ?) that broke out of the darkness of the thicket and entered the spirit wood.

Mag alone heard the voice of Crag, but Drek claimed later that he was in a position to see a badger wandering about at Mag’s feet. The badger had been Crag’s spirit guide. Mag and the badger finally met. To Mag, Crag comes on the wind as a disembodied voice, barely distinguishable from the sound of the pines.

Two hours later, Drek roused from his trance and got up to announce that someone had indeed been given the message. When no man spoke up, Drek looked around at the tribe accusingly.

“Who has been spoken to?”

“I thought I heard Grandfather Crag.” said Mag.

“There! I told you.” said Drek.

Og was indignant and tried to shut everyone up. Drek wiggled his rattle at him and he got quiet. Og knew Drek could utter a curse and Og’s privates would fall off in a fortnight.

“Crag spoke.” said Mag. “He wants us to take the Mastodon. He showed me the way.”

“I agree.” said Thag. “ I have to say that I saw Mag with us. It was too dark to see what happened.” You could say a lot of things about Thag, but he was honest. If he said he saw something, you knew he thought he had.

“I was there too,” added Frag. “Mag was with us.”

No one else had shared the hallucination. Even Og, who had the most emotional energy invested, could not deny that he had slept through most of it and missed the important parts. 

Next: MAG’S PLAN AND THE SURPRISE 

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KC 
Campfire Regular 


Reged: 03/22/01 
Posts: 264 
Loc: Colorado Springs, Colorado USA Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: Klikitarik] 
#291161 - 05/13/04 08:43 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



Salt is an excellent preservative and there's lots of it in the many small dry lake beds around the artesian springs in the San Luis Valley. At the end of every winter, when the snow leaves the high mountains and green buds reappear on the plants, the springs emerge from the ground and fill a small pool. Lots of waterfowl linger for a few days at the pools on their annual migration North. Every year we go to the lakes to trap waterfowl. Later, when the sun is high in the sky at mid-day, the pools have mostly dried up and left a salt pan behind. We gather the salt and save it hoping that we will bag an animal large enough to provide more meat than we can eat at the time. 

The women will cut the meat into thin strips, like bacon. They will hang the strips over horizontal poles, so the meat will dry in the sun and wind. We pack the meat in skin bags and fill everything with salt. The meat will be preserved as long as the bags stay dry.

KC 

--------------------
Wind in my hair, Sun on my face, I gazed at the wide open spaces, And I was at home. 

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shaman 
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Reged: 12/28/02 
Posts: 559 
Loc: Cincinnati, Ohio Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: Klikitarik] 
#291248 - 05/13/04 12:42 PM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



Also remember that the Northern tribes of North America have the highest incidence of botulism poisoning on the planet. Granted, most of it now comes from trying to ferment the stuff in Tupperware, which has a hermetic seal.(pardon the pun) . However, there's still nothing like a bad bit of whale sushi for wiping out the whole igloo. 

BTW: I'm now 4 installments ahead on this mammoth thing. I now know how it ends, but I'm going to release no more than one installment a day. 

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Borealis Bob 
Member 


Reged: 04/06/01 
Posts: 135 
Loc: Aurora, IL Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: hornhead] 
#291420 - 05/13/04 07:29 PM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



Interesting reading, particularly since there will be a dig for mastodon bones starting this summer at a small lake about four miles from me. Fairly good skeletons were found there about 140 years ago, and they are going back for more. They hope to find complete skeletal remains as today's equipment will allow them to dredge, dam, and dig deeper. 

Would be most interesting if they found old flints, etc. I'll be stopping be every now and then to look over their shoulders. 

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shaman 
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Reged: 12/28/02 
Posts: 559 
Loc: Cincinnati, Ohio Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: shaman] 
#291595 - 05/14/04 07:19 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



Mag’s Plan and The Surprise:


Crag’s plan as channeled to Mag was simple but laborious. They would work the beast and wear it down. Crag had called it the “Way of the Wolf.” 

Well actually, it was more like this: Mag was a bit shaken by the trauma of having been thrust into the hunter’s joint hallucination. She was rocky and still ethereal. Most of the males wanted to bash her head in. Thag wanted to too, just on shear principles. Og thought she was going to get between him and having his own way. Drek had to intercede to keep Mag from being killed.

As the post-trance festivities developed, Mag was interrogated at great length, and what seemed like the hunters slowly dragging the story out of Mag was actually a negotiation of sorts. Mag may have not known, but the hunters kept feeding her bits and pieces and shaping them until Mag herself believed that the final consensus was what Crag had told her. Drek had actually coined the “Way of the Wolf.” It sounded catchy, and he threw in a bunch of made up history of Crag and a wolf that had been supposedly passed down from Crag’s father to Drek’s uncle—the one that had wandered off one Winter and had never been seen again. By the coming of dawn, most were in agreement with the ghost of Crag that hit and run tactics would probably be the best, safest way.

There was still the problem of what to do with Mag. Frag thought she should be in on the hunt. Thag still wanted to bash her head in for transgression of the . . . of the . . . well, it just was not right, and if anyone needed to bash her head in, it was Thag’s responsibility.

It was then that Drek pulled out the wildcard. Nag had brought Drek into the secret quite a while back. One look at what Hag showed him convinced Drek that Mag was probably going to be his apprentice and eventual successor as shaman. The problem was this: how do you get a straight-up woman like Mag to be accepted by the hunters? Over the intervening moons, he had encouraged Mag to get to know her Uncle Frag. Frag was a lonely sort, and didn’t mind companionship. Mag had been instrumental in Frag’s recovery from the auroch incident. That had made the bond tighter. Frag only knew hunting and killing, and that’s all that he could share. As a result, Mag had become a hunter by osmosis. Meanwhile, Drek had been passing on some of the less esoteric parts of his craft, priming the pump for what he hoped would happen later.

Mag was expounding her “Way of the Wolf” as the sun came up when Og decided he had had enough. He and Thag suddenly decided that some head-bashing was in order. Nag made the mistake of throwing herself into the mess and got knocked cold. With his secret protégé about to get her brains splattered, Drek decided that he would have to act. Annoucing that he had the power to do to permanent damage to anyone’s genitals that opposed him, Drek went on to explain that Crag had gone further in revealing an ancient spell during the trance the night before. Against Og’s and Thag’s protests, he pulled a rib bone from his bag and began dancing about Mag doing his best to look powerful and magical.

When Nag came to, she caught on quickly and played it as straight as she could, proclaiming Drek’s magic had worked. Hiking up Mag’s robe and spreading her legs. Sure enough, Mag had grown a pudendum. It wasn’t a very big one, but it was enough to convince the guys that a) Drek had powerful magic b) Mag could be considered one of the guys (at least provisionally) and c) If he could make one grow, Drek’s claims about making them fall off were probably not that far off. 

Nag, Drek, and Mag took their secret beyond the veil. Never mind that it been there all along and Nag had kept it a secret for fear of Thag’s wrath. Never mind that it had grown suddenly at the onset of Mag’s puberty. This stray bit of genitalia was going to insure Drek’s immortality, and the continued power of the shaman within the group. It also meant Mag’s survival and perhaps the survival of the group, since the legitimacy of “The Way of the Wolf” had now been settled.

The Way of the Wolf was a strategy of wearing down the game. The women and children would work hard to gather all they could at the river and act as sentinels. Their activities and their stink would act as a fence. The hunters and as many older children as could be spared would work up river, taking lesser game as possible. Someone would keep track of the mastodon’s whereabouts. When contact could be made, the group would converge on the beast, try to lay in a few spears and get it bleeding and then track it until contact was lost. If snow intervened, they might have to speed up the process, but the longer it went the better. Colder weather would preserve the carcass better. The important thing was to keep worrying it, making it bleed and keeping it moving.

As they thought it out, they added to The Way of the Wolf. Thag had found a forest of young pine up at the head of the valley. If they could press the mastodon up that way, the beast’s size would work against it. They could get in close and the trees would keep the behemoth from maneuvering. 

Revealing Mag’s secret had allowed Thag to save face, and had also gone a long way to bringing Og back in line. Og, for once in his over-testosteroned life, had finally found something he was truly afraid of. 

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KC 
Campfire Regular 


Reged: 03/22/01 
Posts: 264 
Loc: Colorado Springs, Colorado USA Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: shaman] 
#291610 - 05/14/04 08:03 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



So Mag saw that we could use the grove of pine trees as a trap. Good for her/him. Maybe we ought to bash her/his head just out of principal. We don't want too many of those her/hims around. Might corrupt the gene pool.

OK so we are going to need some very good spear points. Obsidian if we can get them, about a foot long, slender, pointed at one end, with a waist near the other end so that it can be attached to a stout wooden staff with rawhide thongs. We will need several of them. I suppose that we already posess this fortune, right?

After harassing it for days, one of the hunters must get close enough to shove a spear into its' lungs. Just throwing it won't be effective because the animal has skin an inch thick. The hunter must thrust the spear and all his own weight and muscles into the torso of the beast, or maybe jump onto the beast from above, in order to penetrate the hide and enter the lungs. Once that's accomplished, all we have to do is wait for its' lungs to fill with blood and it will die.

KC 

--------------------
Wind in my hair, Sun on my face, I gazed at the wide open spaces, And I was at home. 

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catnthehat 
Campfire Ranger 


Reged: 12/19/03 
Posts: 1389 
Loc: Alberta Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: hornhead] 
#291663 - 05/14/04 09:36 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



My "dogs were taken as pups and raised as good hunters!
We will keep them on the tether till the game is sighted , then let them loose, and follow.
I know your dogs are good, at least they tasted good on the last hunt when we finally cought up to them! 

Catnthehat 

--------------------
4" of water, 40yards of shelf? Ya, I can make it! 

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shaman 
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Reged: 12/28/02 
Posts: 559 
Loc: Cincinnati, Ohio Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: KC] 
#291683 - 05/14/04 10:56 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



Exactly, except that in reality it is not Mag that came up with this idea. It was probably a consensus among the hunters. Thag knew of the pines, another had been in on mastodon hunt before. In these times, the brain hardware was pretty much as it is today, but the software was still evolving. The link between the two hemispheres was not as integrated ( much like schizophrenics are today). Man's experience would have been filled with voices from the past, disembodied voices from the trees, or sentient bits of his own anatomy.

If you doubt me on the latter, look up terms like "phrenes" in Greek. For every emotion, the Greeks had a part of the body associated and the given part would speak to it's owner. In some Greek writing, when a character gets into an emotional turmoil, one part of the anatomy might actually fight another for control. That must have felt great.

Still to this day, you can get a taste of this imperfect integration when you have a high fever, or get yourself dosed on drugs (recreational or otherwise). I've gotten my brain cooked really good on a hard hike from nothing more than heat and high humidity. It's amazing what comes out when the thin veneer of modern consciousness gets abraded away from too much heat and not enough oxygen.

The shaman was a potent mediator in this situation. He might have been self-aware of what he was doing or not. The bottom line was that he would have shaped the consensus building and helped the group formulate the plan. Without his services, the process would have broken down. Mag might have heard Crag. Thag might have heard something from a spirit animal guide. Og might have gotten a message from his loins to bash everyone's head in-- chaos. The shaman keeps everyone listening to the same voice, or at least molds the experience into a common consensus. In this case, the shaman would have simply blurred the lines between what was said by Mag and what had been said by the hunters and molded into a cohesive message from Crag , the dead patriarch. 

As to the finish, I've got something cooking that works just like you said. It takes guts and finesse. 

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las 
Campfire Ranger 


Reged: 06/26/01 
Posts: 1600 
Loc: Soldotna, AK Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: shaman] 
#291971 - 05/14/04 10:26 PM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



Executives! The Pygmies dig a Pygmie sized hole in an elephant trail, then stick a spear in the elephant's guts when it passes overhead. KISS! 

KC - " anybody that questions my courage better watch their back????" I like it! 

--------------------
"Where do they find young men like this?" Reporter Savidge, Iraq 

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Boggy Creek Ranger 
Campfire Kahuna 


Reged: 01/27/01 
Posts: 4567 
Loc: Leon County Texas Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: las] 
#292034 - 05/15/04 06:22 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



Shaman's fascinating tale aside I believe las and me have been reading the same books. In some old Africa stuff that I read concerning pygmies hunting elephants (the book was from the 1880's) it said that a single hunter would smear himself all over with elephant poop and sneak along behind the elephant until he could jump under it and straight up, stab it in the belly and then RLH. The elephant, when it turned fast trying to find out what stuck it in the belly, would squat (I've seen circus elephants do this) thus driving the spear in even deeper. Then the whole bunch just followed the elephant until it died of peritonitis or became so weak it could be approached and stabed to death. Might take a week so the book said.

OTOH, if somebody in the group could just find a piece of mica and carve it into a convex shape then look at the Mamoth through it from the curved side (like reversing a spy glass) he could just walk right up and bash the little bugger over the head with a club. 



BCR 

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catnthehat 
Campfire Ranger 


Reged: 12/19/03 
Posts: 1389 
Loc: Alberta Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: Boggy Creek Ranger] 
#292062 - 05/15/04 08:45 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



"Little Bugger"? The pigmy or the mastadon? 

Catnthehat 

--------------------
4" of water, 40yards of shelf? Ya, I can make it! 

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Boggy Creek Ranger 
Campfire Kahuna 


Reged: 01/27/01 
Posts: 4567 
Loc: Leon County Texas Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: catnthehat] 
#292100 - 05/15/04 10:15 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



Which would depend on whether the group wanted an hors d'oeurve or an entre'


BCR 

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catnthehat 
Campfire Ranger 


Reged: 12/19/03 
Posts: 1389 
Loc: Alberta Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: Boggy Creek Ranger] 
#292108 - 05/15/04 10:30 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



LMAO!
Catnthehat 

--------------------
4" of water, 40yards of shelf? Ya, I can make it! 

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memtb 
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Reged: 01/27/01 
Posts: 260 
Loc: Winchester, WY USA Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: hornhead] 
#292150 - 05/15/04 12:33 PM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



hornhead,
I'm not very imaginative, and may have missed something in some of the posts, but may have an answer! 

You want to head south for the upcoming winter, which happens to be the preferred direction for the Mastadon as well. You simply follow the game, cutting off a steak as needed. You minimize the efforts of travel( only carrying children and equipment)and will always have fresh meat, until you reach your destination! 

Sounds pretty simple to me!!! -memtb 

--------------------
A Man Has Got to Know His Limitations and Test Them Often! 

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Klikitarik 
Campfire Regular 


Reged: 08/12/03 
Posts: 378 
Loc: Alaska Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: shaman] 
#292153 - 05/15/04 12:42 PM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



I think your idea of concensus would have been tempered and maybe even directed by tradition and the voice of the most highly esteemed elder. That, anyway, seems to be the case at least in the far north where the leap from the stone age has been so recent. It can be frustrating to try to understand "why" when the only answer anyone can give is "that's how we do it and have always done it," and the statement ends with a period so big you can almost taste it. It makes looking to an esteemed elder for "permission" seem so easy to swallow. One thing is certain, this would not be done hastily or rashly. Great patience would reign and only when the moment was right might there be a flourish of activity. The preparations would be done properly. 

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KC 
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Reged: 03/22/01 
Posts: 264 
Loc: Colorado Springs, Colorado USA Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: hornhead] 
#292770 - 05/17/04 08:01 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



interesting archeologicreport of prehistoric hunters in AK

http://www.gi.alaska.edu/ScienceForum/ASF12/1284.html

KC 

--------------------
Wind in my hair, Sun on my face, I gazed at the wide open spaces, And I was at home. 

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shaman 
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Reged: 12/28/02 
Posts: 559 
Loc: Cincinnati, Ohio Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: shaman] 
#292788 - 05/17/04 08:39 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



WORKING THE PLAN

Day 4-7: Weather is variable. Snow flurries overnight, fog in mornings. On and off precipitation. The tribe is consolidating their stand at the river. Hunting parties had camped here before, leaving hearths. The surrounding trees indicated habitation in no less than a generation or so. The young busy themselves with laying snares and spearing fish. The women are spread out across the bottoms, gathering what is left of the nuts and berries and roots. Storage pits are dug and filled. Grass and pine boughs are collected for bedding.

The hunters are spending morning and evening hunting game. Afternoons and nights are spent preparing wooden spears by charring the ends and shaping into a hard point. These will do the bulk of the work. 

Thag was a good day’s walk up the valley with Drag, his nephew. Thag was tracking the mastodon, but also blazing sign for the hunting party to come. At every stream crossing, he would mound stones and place various signs. Branches placed on end meant deer, with a branch laid pointing the direction. Sticks laid in a cross hatch meant for the nets to be brought up for birds. Between Drag and Thag, they composed songs with the words meant to document the trail they had left. Drag was good at this, better than Thag. 

The mastodon was showing signs of being pushed. How it had gotten separated from the herds coming through the other valley was a mystery left to be solved. Why it had gone up this narrow valley was another. Where Thag could find the trail, the mastodon seemed to be working the left side, looking for a way up and out. There were signs of grazing on the trees and bushes along with spoor, but they would lead up into the barren parts above and then back down.

It was Hag and Sag that found a possible reason for the odd behavior of the mastodon. There was still sign of the herd coming through earlier in the fall. They had stopped to graze on a stand of bushes that fermented in late September. Acres of these berries had been run through the guts of these beasts, and the trampled grass held the masses of runny mastodon spoor. To one corner of the patch was a smaller patch of bushes that held the green berries. These had been only lightly grazed, and beyond them were the bleached bones of a mastodon, and several other large grazers. Thnorn and Drek were called in to examine the site. Their conclusion was that the mastodon they sought had dosed itself on the green berries and then been too sick to continue. Drek knew the most about the green berries, but even he did not know for sure what the long term effects of green berry poisoning were. To him, the answer had always been clear: eat the green ones and you die.

Day 8-10 The women and children were producing food, but in no great abundance. The storage pits were beginning to fill, but there was not enough for the tribe to survive intact through the winter. There was talk of splitting the group and Thnorn taking some them further on. It was a tough decision, since you required so many individuals to harvest a valley like this, but at the same time it meant more mouths to feed in the worst months. Thnorn and his kids started moving provisions up river to cache at a site Thag would have marked. This would form the advance camp of the hunters.


Thag and Drag crossed the little river as it got smaller, and had broken into three fingers. They worked their way down the right side of the valley and came back about a day behind Thnorn’s party. When they returned, they announced was time to move the hunters up the valley. 

That night Thag and Sag sang their song around the fire. It took several repetitions, for everyone to get it. Drek added a few flourishes to make it official. When it was over, the debate ensued over how much meat could be harvested and how fast, and how to do it. They compared stories. Thag ‘s finding were in agreement with findings at the berry bushes. This was a sick mastodon—maybe crippled, maybe blinded.

Og was determined to take the mastodon himself. This would be his first, so he pushed his way into the advance party, that now consisted of Thag, Mag, Og, and Fag. 

Thnorn, Drek, Drag, and Lag would form the second party. Frag wanted another go at it, so he got Thnorn’s kids to constitute a third party, but everyone knew there was nothing to it. Still, Frag could pass on some of his lore on the way. 

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hornhead 
Member 


Reged: 04/05/04 
Posts: 213 
Loc: Calgary, Alberta (Canada) Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: shaman] 
#292928 - 05/17/04 02:19 PM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



everyone knows about the green berries. even me now.
can't remember where i read it tho.
ergo- mastadons also should know about greenies? 
could be something else in the valley, or a pack of critters with canine teeth? meybe thats why only the bones were left ie- no carcass therefore eaten? could be the reason game left the valley? maybe the critter(s) left following the game after chasing a mastadon for a while then followed the rest of the herd where the hunting was easier? would they (it) return? maybe the mastadon was slightly injured but is ok now and a lot smarter and more cautious cuz it's alone now and trying to get back to its herd?. just things to maybe contemplate. if that's what happened could be the mastadon is more dangerous than the average masty cuz it has experience and knowledge( ie a trophy mastadon??)
as to whether man and masty existed at the same time?? as mark twain said -" never let truth or the facts get in the way of a good story" or something like that , can't remember 

--------------------
Life sucks , and then you die! 

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shaman 
Campfire Regular 


Reged: 12/28/02 
Posts: 559 
Loc: Cincinnati, Ohio Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: shaman] 
#293205 - 05/18/04 08:58 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



Day 11-13—Thag. . .er. . .Og’s group made for advance camp and rested the night. The next day, they looked for contact with the mastodon. Thnorn’s group worked two of the creeks marked by Thag and Drag. At midday, they located deer in the second creek. Drag was able to get a spear into one, and Thnorn and Drek were able to track it a bit and caught it as it tried to cross the creek. It tripped coming off an undercut bank and crashed down on the rocks. It was struggling to get up when the two came up to the bank and finished it with combination of wrestling, stabbing with the spear and finally hitting it repeatedly with a large rock. One haunch was taken, and the rest was given to two of Thnorn’s kids, who came up late in the day with Frag. At sun-up, they shuttled the carcass back to the main camp. 

Frag was carrying a bit of an innovation with him. Since his left lower arm had been useless since the auroch thing, he had taken to using a spear. However, carrying a spear with your one good hand was cumbersome, so he had gotten Mag to create a sling of sorts so that he could carry the spear using his left shoulder and also attach the front part of the spear to his left wrist. The final assembly was pretty handy if not eccentric. Frag had also practiced climbing trees and jumping down with the spear. The sling, if wrapped around his left foot was pretty good at aiming and controlling the shaft. Mag had one of these on her spear too, even though it was untipped. She might have been made a man, but she was not yet permitted to carry flint. 

Thag took his group towards the last sighting of mastodon spoor, and then they worked across the hillside for the next place the animal had retreated. Late in the afternoon, Thag found sign, but kept going, so that Mag could find it for herself. Og spoiled the plan, by pushing past and then finding the broken pine boughs and runny mastodon plop at the treeline. It was less than a day old. It got late and so they retreated into the pines and made a fast shelter and slept. 

They were awakened in the morning to the snow falling. Only 4 wet inches fell, but it was a bad break. It took twice as long, following only broken boughs, now covered in snow. However, the mastodon was going downhill. Thag suggested to Og that he take the group back down and rendezvous with the second team. Og then decided it was no use in pursuing the beast any further and that meeting up with Thnorn was more important. 

When they got down to the little river, Thnorn’s party was there waiting with the deer haunch already on the fire. Drek brought out some fungus he’d found on the way, and said that a little under the gum would either kill them dead or give them dreams of their ancestors. Everyone thought Drek was being overly dramatic. By sundown everyone was passed out. That night, Thag talked to Crag. Thnorn had visions of ghosts crawling up his legs and ran off into the woods, and Og thought he’d gone to the moon. Fag was smiling all morning, but would not say why. Drek was up early and melted snow in the party’s one clay pot and brewed up a strong tea that he said would make the rest of the fungus’ effects go away. Drek’s opinion of the fungus was that it had been nice, just not as strong as some of the other’s he’d collected. Mag hugged her legs and wouldn’t talk. 

The final plan was set. The mastodon would be located and the advance party would attempt to draw first blood. The second group would then flank the beast and lay in a second salvo. It would alternate like that until the mastodon was too weak, and then a final assault would be planned. If at all possible, the animal would be driven towards an old burn that had young pines in relatively thick numbers across. 

Frag and Thnorn’s kids showed up just before the party left. Szorn was given the job of shuttling between the groups. Frag volunteered to set up an ambush in the pines. 

“Fine, Frag,” Said Og. “You do whatever you think best.” 

It took all day to find the mastodon. It was finally sighted in a meadow, and the first party spent all afternoon crawling through the grass, while the second group positioned itself in willows at the opposite end. At one point Og’s butt protruded a bit too far above the grass and the mastodon began to move away. 

Thag hissed a primeval curse relating to warm auroch spoor and took off running at the mastodon. Og was a bit closer and got the first throw in, but it went short. Thag just kept running, hoping that the beast would run towards the other group. 

The whole first group took off running across the meadow yelling, and the mastodon ran straight away for a bit and then had a change of mind and turned. The second group stayed low in a gulley and tried to flank the mastodon. The gait of the animal was somehow eccentric, perhaps a lingering effect of the berry poisoning. It was a late adolescent male. 

Thnorn’s group guessed right and was able to sneak closer to the mastodon, but the animal caught their scent. Thnorn got first blood with a well-thrown spear that hung for a second on the lower rump before falling off. A few more spears were thrown, mostly out of desperation; most were deflected by the thick hair. The mastodon finally turned up the boilers and left the field. The good news was that he was heading for the pines when last seen. Spears were gathered. Thnorn’s had blood, but it had been just a pin prick on a beast that big. Lag had never gotten his off. He said he had never had the right angle. Someone suggested the best angle would have been skewering Lag through his buttocks and up through his neck. Everyone laughed except Lag, who thought it was too serious. 


NEXT: Feint in the Meadow 

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shaman 
Campfire Regular 


Reged: 12/28/02 
Posts: 559 
Loc: Cincinnati, Ohio Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: hornhead] 
#293329 - 05/18/04 02:36 PM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



Yes, but this was an adolescent male-- headstrong and rebellious. You tell the kids not to eat the green berries, but what do they do as soon as they can get off on their own? 

This would have been a sick mastodon. I'm thinking of permanent neurological effects from some kind of strong alkali poison-- much like one gets with chronic absinthe abuse or thujone poisoning-- motor problems, partial or complete blindness, adled mind, madness. I actually did absinthe one night-- it was awfully bitter, but made for a much friendlier high than alcohol. I told myself this was a one shot thing. Things went well. I was convinced the girl sitting next to me on the couch was coming on to me. We talked. She was pretty and very friendly. Some time later I realized that I'd been sitting in an overstuffed chair and there had been no chick. My friends told me I'd been patting the arm of the chair all night. If I'd started drinking the stuff regularly like they did in Victorian times, the results would have been much quicker and far more catastrophic than alcohol. However, I came away understanding why the bohemians of Victorian Europe had enjoyed it so much.

As to comments that this probably would not have happened at all, I look at it this way: the spec called for a mastodon hunt over 14 days. This puppy could have only gone about two paragraphs. It could have just as easily been:


Thag and Thnorn were out hunting the new valley when Thag encountered mastodon prints in the soft alluvial mud.

"Mastodon." said Thag. "Fresh too."

"Yeah, " said Thnorn, "We'll tell Og when we get back. He can go chase it all Winter and leave us alone." 

Thag agreed. Break time was over, and they went back to hunting grubs in the hollow log. They now had two large bark containers filled with them. Dried and ground they would make a good flour. The log was 8 feet in diameter and 30 feet long. There would be enough grubs to last the Winter.


. . . but that would not have been nearly as exciting. 

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hornhead 
Member 


Reged: 04/05/04 
Posts: 213 
Loc: Calgary, Alberta (Canada) Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: shaman] 
#293413 - 05/18/04 06:14 PM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



can't help but agree with you. its a fun posting. lots of interesting asides.
its rumoured that one of the tribe gets a damaged rotator cup and that weakness has continued thru his line right up to a guy who sits around the tarsands at ft. mcmurray, and wonders why.
any truth to that catnhat? 

--------------------
Life sucks , and then you die! 

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catnthehat 
Campfire Ranger 


Reged: 12/19/03 
Posts: 1389 
Loc: Alberta Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: hornhead] 
#293578 - 05/19/04 06:16 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



The story that my great grandpappy told me is that my ancestors were great dog men, and that one had his rotator yanked out of place by one of his dogs during a hunt, because it wasn't time to loose the critter! ..... 

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4" of water, 40yards of shelf? Ya, I can make it! 

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shaman 
Campfire Regular 


Reged: 12/28/02 
Posts: 559 
Loc: Cincinnati, Ohio Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: shaman] 
#294046 - 05/20/04 10:17 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



A Feint in the Meadow

Day 14 started with a slate grey sky. The sun did not rise. Everyone was up at it early, knowing what was ahead. Thag went out and found the mastodon and got close enough to see blood on a mat of fur near the rump. The mastodon had withdrawn to some taller pines for the night to escape the wind, but moved back into the meadow as the day wore on. The wound had not affect the animal’s gait, however. Thag shadowed the mastodon until he was confident that the animal was calm and feeding. Then, he withdrew and sent Szorn back to bring up the others. By midday, it had begun to snow.

The mastodon was grazing in the center of the meadow as the snow grew heavier. The two groups assembled at opposite sides of the pasture and began working their way upwind towards the animal. The snow acted as a screen, allowing the hunters to get fairly close without being detected. The mastodon had turned upwind, as if it knew something was going on. At a little over fifty yards, Thag decided that they had gone far enough. He pulled out a birchbark horn and started making noise with it. At the same time, he motioned for the party to begin walking steadily towards the beast.

The sound of the horn did two things. It alerted the other group that the stalk was over and the end game had started. It was also close enough to a mastodon’s assembly call that it caused the lonely mastodon to think there might be others of his kind about. The other party soon answered with their own horn. The mastodon was unsure what to make of it and held his ground. The two groups were massed close enough together that the mastodon could only make out two large dark masses moving in the snow. It answered one of the calls and then took a step forward.

Suddenly they were on him. Spears were thrust everywhere, as deep as could be. The mastodon turned and caught more spears, some jabbed and some thrown. One group of hunters would attack, while the other would attempt to draw the animal’s attention. The mastodon whirled about twice, attempting to charge, but finally realized this was a battle that could not be fought. The chase started, with hunters quickly losing ground, but not worrying too much. They did not push too much and the mastodon did what they expected, running down hill and away from the hunters. The kids were sent on to keep up the chase, while the others collected their spears and caught their breaths.

It was now snowing hard enough that the hunters had to regroup quickly. They needed to get into the shelter of the pines before they lost their way. As they reached the treeline, they were met by the kids. The mastodon had stopped and turned on the kids after trundling through the tall pines for a while, so they had withdrawn. Thag followed Phtorn back to assess the condition of the animal. When he returned an hour later, he had good news: the mastodon was now favoring a hind leg, and he had a broken spear embedded in his brisket that was causing him significant blood loss. As the mastodon had plowed through the undergrowth, the spear had been caught and the point had been massaged around before breaking off with a foot of shaft still protruding. It was not fatal, but the blood loss was significant.

A hasty camp was made. Thag spent the night in close contact with the mastodon. The mastodon moved little during the night. 

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shaman 
Campfire Regular 


Reged: 12/28/02 
Posts: 559 
Loc: Cincinnati, Ohio Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: shaman] 
#295705 - 05/24/04 09:24 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 





Death in the Pines

Day 15 saw a respite from the snow, but there was now a good foot that had fallen. The weather did not break, and everyone woke up worried at the clouds. Thag dug himself out from under a pine and walked back to camp at daybreak. The mastodon was not on the move, but probably would start moving soon. Og wanted to move in. Thag suggested that the original plan of pushing the beast lower on the mountain into the young pines was still the safest way to deal with it.

The hunters formed a curved line uphill from the mastodon and began singing to it. The mastodon responded by attempting to move away from the sound. As if in slow motion, the hunters drove the animal down and across the mountainside until it was well within the thick growth of young pine. The drive continued until they were several hundred yards in, and then they waited for the snow.

The snow started again as the afternoon was beginning to wane. In waves of two and three, the hunters would move in on the beast and attempt to attack while the others would draw his attention. The mastodon was having a hard time swinging his head around to respond. His trunk and tusks kept hitting the trunks of trees and branches. Occasionally they would hang and the hunters would get a free shot. Once, the mastodon nearly trampled Og as it found a clear path in the trees and bulled its way through. When Og made it to his feet again, he saw the mastodon’s print was neatly centered between two of his own. Given some room, the mastodon ran for a ways through some deadfall, before stopping again and the process resumed.

All of a sudden there was a shriek and Frag appeared , coming off high on the trunk of one of the pines and falling through the air. He had wrapped himself around his spear and rode it down. The spear buried itself in the chest of the mastodon and the beast bellowed and whirled. Frag was thrown off his spear but his foot got caught in the sling. With only one good arm, Frag was helpless. The mastodon was doing everything it could to get rid of Frag, but Frag was now hanging by an ankle off the back of the animal with both arms flaying about. The mastodon whirled again and crashed into a pine tree. Frag went limp. When the hunters got a good look, it was obvious that Frag was gone.

Mag let out a wail and began climbing a nearby tree. About 12 feet up, she screamed. “Over here! Over here!” 

Drek caught on and got the attention of the mastodon. Drawing himself up, he pulled out his rattle and started at the mastodon’s head. The beast bluffed once, but Drek let out an unearthly sound that made everyone wince and made the mastodon think twice. Drek lept from one side to the other, and the animal finally decided that it was no use sticking around. He turned and headed towards the tree holding Mag. Mag lept from the tree, riding her pike. The fire-hardened point of the shaft hit the mastodon’s vertebrae and separated the spinal cord. The back legs went out, and the animal went over on its side, burying Frag’s carcass underneath. Unlike Frag, Mag had kept her foot from getting tangled in the sling, and was able to roll off. The rest of the group converged and Og got to ram his spear between the ribs and finish the mastodon off.

Drek went to the mastodon and comforted the beast, explaining in soothing tones that soon the pain would be over, and that he would soon join his ancestors in a land that was always filled with Spring grass. The mastodon expired without further protest.

It was nearly impossible to get at Frag without gutting the animal. They dug down through the snow and mastodon hair and located Frag’s head. His skull had been almost flattened against the tree trunk, and the extraction of Frag suddenly became a secondary issue. Mag was congratulated, and through great heaving sobs she accepted the dowsing in blood and the presentation of Frag’s spear as a token of acceptance into the hunters.

Drek ministered to Frag, giving him the necessary directions on how to get on to the afterlife, and then camp was moved to the mastodon and the party encamped beside the carcass. Around a campfire fueled by exploding deadfall pine logs, the hunters and the kids celebrated. Og did everything he could to take responsibility for the kill, and everyone let him think he was now the consummate mastodon killer. In the morning, poles would be cut, the mastodon quartered and the hauling would begin. 

Drek sat with Mag, comforting her on the loss of Frag, and working a tale that told of Frag’s departure from this life and his tracking of the mastodon back to the land of its ancestors and his. Over the course of the night, Drek consolidated his alliance with Mag, a powerful link to the hunters, the women, and the shaman. 

Thag, meanwhile, plotted with Thnorn and Drag . While the rest were schlepping Frag and the mastodon back. They would try for some game in the side creeks of the far bank. At dawn, they took off downhill and upriver leaving instructions on where and when to rendevous later.

“Tough about Frag.” Said Thnorn.

“He’s better off,” said Thag. “That shoulder was causing him nothing but grief.”

“I guess Mag’s pretty messed up about it though.”

“You call growing a schwantz easy?” said Thag. “And me? I started off this moon with a daughter. Who would have thought?”

“I envy her,” said Drag, whistfully.

“Cut that out,” said Thag “Or I’ll bash your head in. You’re a good hunter, but I’m not going to put up with that—not in my party!”

“Mag, Drag, Fag.” Said Thnorn. “What’s gotten into these young folks?”

“Maybe getting tossed out of the cave will end up being good for them.” Said Thag. “A little of life without a roof may show them what’s right.”

It was beginning to snow now. Thag was thinking about how hard it was getting to be. Last night had felt good, but his legs fought every step this morning, and his head was still filled with Drek’s fungus. That was getting harder and harder to shake. He’d always felt so good after these hunts, so alive. Now he realized that, in a season or two, he’d start wishing he could join Frag and Crag. Oh well, as long as the forest smiled on him and his legs held out there was good reason for breathing. 

Wag came up and brushed his leg. Without thinking, Thag reached in and pulled out a bit of fat and handed it to his dog. The sky was still leaden, but for a few minutes the sun shown over the northern rim of the valley and life was good. 

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Boggy Creek Ranger 
Campfire Kahuna 


Reged: 01/27/01 
Posts: 4567 
Loc: Leon County Texas Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: shaman] 
#296027 - 05/25/04 06:09 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



Good story Shaman. You're a good writer. Plausable scenes and nice line. 

BCR 

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KC 
Campfire Regular 


Reged: 03/22/01 
Posts: 264 
Loc: Colorado Springs, Colorado USA Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: hornhead] 
#296075 - 05/25/04 09:27 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



Now comes the work of preserving as much meat as we can carry. We will also weave baskets out of willows to keep the birds off, then hawl it up into the trees, where it will freeze. We can return several times before the sun again rises high in the sky. Hope the snow doesn't get so deep that we can't return. 

The clan will spend the cold-dormant time in the caves beside the big river. 

All is well and the clan will survive another winter. 

Thanks for the story Shaman.

KC


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Wind in my hair, Sun on my face, I gazed at the wide open spaces, And I was at home. 

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mrfisher59 
Member 


Reged: 02/10/04 
Posts: 220 
Loc: Wyoming Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: shaman] 
#296092 - 05/25/04 10:15 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



Reminds me of the Clan of the Bear Cave novel series....very good reading Shaman.

mrsfisher 

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"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away." 

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hornhead 
Member 


Reged: 04/05/04 
Posts: 213 
Loc: Calgary, Alberta (Canada) Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: KC] 
#296311 - 05/25/04 08:28 PM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



good words shaman
keep in touch 

--------------------
Life sucks , and then you die! 

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hornhead 
Member 


Reged: 04/05/04 
Posts: 213 
Loc: Calgary, Alberta (Canada) Re: THE GREAT MASTADON HUNT [Re: hornhead] 
#296447 - 05/26/04 08:43 AM Edit Reply Quote Quick Reply 



interesting thread. thanks to all who posted. i'll try think up another one.
later 

--------------------
Life sucks , and then you die! 

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