Stories of a Maya deer hunter

White tailed deer. (Photo: Nicholas M. Hellmuth in Revenue Magazine)

Don Claudio Cocom, a former resident of Abalá, Yucatán tells us that, back in the day, Maya hunters used to perform certain rituals in order to catch their prey. 

During his tours in the “monte”, at the foot of a large tree, he found an altar made of three tall stones and above them, a flat one in which there were candles. There was also a rustic staircase that facilitated the hunter to climb the tree and “chu’k” the deer, that means to spy on it.

Don Claudio said that hunters have secrets to make sure they would return home with a deer. He said that many years ago, in Abalá, there was a solitary hunter who called his attention as he used to go to the monte at four in the afternoon and only two hours later he used to return with a deer!

After slaughtering the animal in his house, he used to give a deer’s leg to a lady who was supposed to perform some kind of witchcraft to make him able to hunt deer in a short time.

What’s more interesting is the fact that, despite there are many deer hunters in Abalá, deer do not seem to get extinct, and Don Claudio explained that it is because in the region there are at least three species:

  1. The “yuc” (also known as “sakyuc”) that is the largest.
  2. The“chacyuc” that is red and small,
  3. The “beke’ch’kal” with white tail and seven-pointed horns.

Don Claudio says that adult deer begin to loose their horns from April to May and according to him, this is the time of the year when they are easier to hunt, as even dogs can catch up with them, since they become more fragile while they do not have their horns. He underlined that in Abalá, Muna, Oxkutzcab and Mukuyché there is a lot of yuc.

Don Claudio told SIPSE a peculiar story: Once on November 1, a man went hunting, which is not regularly done because Nov. 1st is Day of the Dead. So when the hunter saw his prey, he pointed his rifle at it, and then the deer faced him and spoke to him in Maya! He said: “Are you going to kill me? I am your grandfather.” and so the hunter let his prey go… (I guess is not a good idea to go hunting on Day of the Dead anyway…)

According to Don Claudio, being a hunter definitely requires certain magical knowledge that favors luck and when limits are not respected, accidents or mysterious and strange things happen.

 

Article written by José Huchim Herrera for: Sipse.com







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