Another Lakota Adventure!!
By Bamm Brewer
As a little bitty guy, I followed my dad though the thick timber and the countryside on our way to the places that were unknown to me at the time. Never knowing that one day I’d be hitting those same trails with my boys and soon my grandson. It didn’t really matter what we were after; it was an adventure just to breathe in the cold air in the early morning hours. One of my early morning memories is the smell of coffee in the truck and then the smell of a match lighting a cigarette. So that coffee and an early smell of a match lit cig will always remind me of my dad. Nowadays, we wouldn’t have someone light a cig in the truck as we became serious deer hunters and we just wouldn’t want that smell on our clothes unless it was dads.
In my earlier days before I was a deer hunter I was a rabbit hunter. I would hit a trail through the White Clay Creek and go after some cottontails. Those sure were some fun hunts. It was kind of like hopping down the bunny trail Elmer Fudd style, only in a more serious sense. I can remember this time in the Wounded Knee Creek area below Bob Ecoffee’s ranch. There were so many cottontails down there. On a good day I had to use a gunny sack to bring them home. I asked Bob if it was ok to hunt the area and he said "Sure, as long as it’s for just the rabbits”. The snow was always a big help when rabbit hunting and I used to track those darn rabbits down after a blizzard. That Wounded Knee Creek was some of my best memories. There was a rabbit that was real smart. I saw him standing on his hind feet looking for me as I was coming up the trail. Then he would take me on a journey giving me shots that he must have known I’d miss. After my tongue was hanging out he would show himself. Then the chase was back on again! Just when I thought I had him cornered, he would do the impossible and cross the creek.
Sometimes he wouldn’t just cross the creek, he would actually get on the ice and run down it with me hot on his trail. It was like he wanted me to bust through the ice to get me off his trail. I would try to stay away from places where the ice was clear. I knew that ice was thin but in those days I could move faster and I took some unnecessary risks. The creek is not that wide out there but can be deep in spots and I had to find that out the hard way. It was after an arctic freeze. There were cotton tails everywhere and we thought this was the day. We were going to bring home the supper. After a while, we got on that same smart one’s trail and right down the creek he went. All of a sudden, crash! one of our guys, John Pettigrew, was in up to his neck. He was a little guy then. Ice cold and chilled, the only thing we could do was build a fire right there on the Wounded Knee Creek for little John. That’s what we did to warm and dry him up enough for the long walk back to Grandma Gloria’s. That rabbit really got us good that day and I know he had to be standing on his hind feet atop a big log on a high point watching us with a smile on his face.
I never did get that darn rabbit, but I sure did try. They sure are some tasty little critters and their fur is excellent liner for your moccasins and gloves and ear muffs. The fur is soft and warm and at the end of a drum stick they sound ata lila waste for the AIM song! They are tasty little critters and can be cooked over a campfire on a stick alongside Wounded Knee Creek. We found that out, too. In those younger years as a hunter, little did I know I was actually learning the skills that I would need to become a tribal hunting guide and a hunter of everything. Those rabbits were the starting point of many years to come of some great memories of getting beaten in the woods and also of a successful quest. In a time where our people no longer followed the game and were forced into reservation life, our way here was still the way of the hunter. After the people came to the reservation and our hunting grounds were taken, the old ways were gone as far as traveling but the instinct was still inside of our people and that was something that could never be removed.
The way of the Lakota hunter. HOKA!