The Hunter

Where did it end, this sea crest of grass, a blazing rip tide of green, it swept from one side of the world to the other. The wind constantly beat down upon the prairie. Every individual blade of grass, bending and contorting under the awesome power, would spring up to taste the sun once more. This place, an undulating swarm of color, was alive with passion and, to a lesser extent, it sang freedom. The fields came alive in spring with blooms of violet and purple flowers, red and yellow petals, and a mix of tangled, wild greens which sucked the life up with powerful stubby roots. Small creeks hid in small and dense trenches, snaking unseen paths through this slightly slanted land. Ducks skirted the swift flowing waters. Ducklings strung along behind their mothers, turning and yawing the tiny tides with every fiber in their bodies. All of them would admire the mother duck as she eased across the water with sureness and a sense of pride. She was not showing off; merely showing and further imprinting her desires upon them.

A stag lifted its chin to the soft breeze, widened his eyes and took note of his surroundings. He trudged along the soft damp soil. Dew licked his legs, moistening them. His ears tilted backward then straight up. He listened to the wind, the earth and the grass. Something was coming.

The herd still grazed. Three does and one young buck sank low to get at the fresh greens that grew in abundance beneath the tall dry grass. Their movements were slow and lazy; an economic process to keep up their camouflage. The casual eye would not be drawn to them.

But it was not a casual eye, it was something else, hidden in the deepness of the fields. It crawled on its belly through the muddy soil. In its hand was a bow, the other held a single arrow, fletched with the sleek brown and grey feathers of the turkey, tipped with a thin slice of obsidian. The grass mumble but did not cry out. His scent was covered because he was downhill, yet the Stag sense him through some inert instinct. Danger was in the air.

The Stag lifted one leg, unsure of himself. Should he run. Panic set in. He looked from side to side. His blood started rushing as his heart pounded heavier and heavier. Thoughts maddened his cautious mind. He tried to shake them. Something in the core of him told him not to ignore it. Run. Just run.

In his hesitation he feigned to run in order to draw out the hunter. Nothing. The world did not shift. What if he ran his heard straight into the clutches of the hunter? He knew there was danger but not where it was. Checkmate, he thought to himself as he bolted.

A single arrow spiraled out of the field. It was shot from a very low crouched position. The shaft spun slowly at first then caught the air and took off with a renewed vigor. The tip pierced the stags ribcage and went straight to his heart. All things stopped as the world went black and he toppled forward. He had no more control of his legs. An extreme tiredness came over him as he smelled the dirt and then his own blood. The rest of the herd bounded away, hiding themselves in the tall thickets of the field. He knew this somehow. In his last thoughts he thanked the hunter for choosing him and not his mate nor his two daughters. They still had the young buck to protect them and carry on.

The hunter approached slowly, singing a sacred song of prayer. He unstrung his wolf skin to let his long hair breathe. He wiped the sweat off his face, smearing the red paint on his forehead. He was in no hurry for that would be disrespectful to his prey. He walked with grace and pride.

The ceremony was personal and sacred. First came a song to honor his fallen brother. The words thanked him for his sacrifice and in return he would not let his death be in vein. The next verse said how his death would not be in vein. His body would not rot or be consumed by scavengers or maggots. His magnificent hide would keep a little child warm, his meat would feed a hungry family, and his antlers would be made into a fine cutting tool. His body was now sacred and in return he would use every part and not let a single hair go unused.

"In this world," The hunter said. "We cannot afford to waste a gift such as you."

The next step was to cut open the Stag, take the most sought organs and feast upon them. An incision was made bellow his ribcage. The hunter reached in with his knife and cut out the liver. Hot blood poured out and covered his arm. Then he extracted the soft and black liver. It was steaming in the cold morning air.

The hunter stood up and prayed to the Seven Directions. First to the West, next the North, South and East. He lifted the liver high as he prayed to above, to the greater powers then below to Mother Earth. Then he said a simple and personal prayer for the Seventh Direction.

After this he bit into the liver. The hot blood filled his mouth and ran down his chin and onto his bone laced choker. It swam over his chest and swept down into his buckskin cloth. The trail went down his leggings and finally touched the earth.

Prayer was given and the ceremony was done. It was time to butcher.

The hunter waved his hand to beckon his two sons. They were ordered to watch the hunt, observe and learn. They were not permitted to interfere. So they kept still, waited for their fathers call and came over to help with the butchering.

They watched their father move his knife along the carcass to separate the meat from the sinuous hide. Deep red flesh fell in chunks. The hide started to become more loose. Their father made a few minor cuts then ripped the hide off in one stroke. He handed this to his older son, Grey-Byoden got the hind quarters…