The old man eased way down the snow covered trail using his lance for support. His fur covered boots were warm but they didn’t really aid him in finding traction on the ice. He’s served his family well in his years as a good hunter and now his sons were the ones who bought back the bounty of the landscape. But he still liked to walk out to his spot in the forest and wait for the game to present itself. He could still cast his spear and find the mark with it’s stone blade but he knew that the day when he would have to set his spear aside would be here all too soon. He would place it in a place of honor in his lodge along with some extra points to pass down to grandson. He sat still occasionally closing his eyes as he listened closely to the birds. He could shift his focus with ears and find the holes in the chatter and that would tell him where his sons were in the thick and tangled underbrush. He would know if they moved and he would know if they were still. The cold snow fell all around him but his fur lined clothes kept him from feeling the chill. He noticed the red leaves of the raspberry and how an insect had carved a slice from one of the. It reminded him of the Redbird that sings. His aged eyes were not as sharp as they were when his hair was thick and as black as tar causing the leaves to look as though it was one piece. The occasional guest of wind made the leaves shake and it gave the appearance that the Redbird was flapping it’s wings. It was at that moment he realized something moved behind the brambles and the deer simply got up and looked straight into his eyes. For a moment the old man and his prey were connected as one. They began to breathe in time with each other. The old man cast his spear and it fell short of its target. The stone point shattered and the deer disappeared. The old hunter was disappointed but he accepted that this was the way of things. It was only natural that he would take his seat by the fire and wait for the sons he’d taught well to take his place as leaders of the hunt. With his spear shaft gone he would need a new stick to balance himself with as he made his way back to camp. He looked around and spotted some river cane nearby. One piece that was almost the right size lay broken on the edge of the canebrake. He took out his knife and began to trim off the shattered end and then he cut the top to the right length. But then he noticed that the cane was hollow. On a whim he picked up the sharp pieces that he’d trimmed off and stuck one in the end of cane to see how far down it would fall. It went all the way through. He carried the cane back to his perch and carved a point on the end of one of the slivers and bound some grass on the end to make a plug. But it was a little loose and he would have to try again. The plug was tight enough that it didn’t want to fall out when he shook it so following his natural instincts he placed one end in his mouth and gave a quick puff. The splinter flew out of the other end stuck in the leaves that resembled the Redbird. The old hunter immediately realized the potential of what he’d discovered. He might not ever cast his spear again but he could shoot little spears with his newly discovered pipe. The little spears would be enough to let him continue to hunt for his remaining days.
The story was inspired by the legend of the Cherokee blowgun. I’ve added my own little spin on it so it’s not the exact thing they tell. However, even today they gather for annual competition and “blowgun” is one of their most popular events.
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