282: The Birth of the Snawfus

I know the Snawfus exists because I’ve seen it. And I know how it was born because a very wise old man once told me the story. On a clear day in winter a hunter went out through the snow into the woods to bring home some game for his family. The drifts were deep up the mountain and the hunter had to struggle to pull himself through them. Up the mountain, down through the holler he went until he came out into a broad valley with an icy river twisting alongside him into the distance. The hunter stopped behind a large rock looking toward the river as a large white bird swooped down to catch fish out of the cold water. He lifted his gun, bracing it on top of the rock, aimed at the bird, followed it high up into the air then as it came back down BANG! he shot the bird and watched as it fell to the ground beside the river. The hunter rushed over to where the bird had fallen but looking around he couldn’t see any trace of it anywhere. There wasn’t even any blood trail around for him to follow. Confused, the man returned home empty handed and that night all his family had to eat were corn dodgers.

The next day the hunter went back through the snow to find some food for his family. He returned to the valley and the river hoping to find that great white bird again. Sure enough, down by the river the white bird stood on a large rock eating a trout. The hunter silently crept through the snow, raised his gun, aimed, and BANG! he shot the bird right off the rock. He rushed over to where the bird had fallen but looking around he couldn’t see any trace of the bird anywhere. There wasn’t even any blood trail around for him to follow. As the sun began to set the hunter returned home empty handed again. In anger the man talked with his wife about the bird, and she said that it was surely some witch in disguise and he should go out tomorrow and shoot it with a silver bullet. So the man melted down a silver spoon and formed it into a single slug which he loaded into his gun.

The next day the man returned to the snow and the woods. He traveled on and on until he reached the familiar valley and river from the days before. The hunter then saw the white bird perched up in the branches of a large tree. Carefully the man raised his gun, aimed at the bird, and BANG! he shot the gun and the bird quickly fell from the tree. The hunter rushed over, sure this time that the silver bullet had hit its mark, but to his surprise there on the ground wasn’t the bird but an old man with a long white beard and fur coat, squirming around in the snow, grabbing at his left arm which was covered in blood.

“Who are you?” The hunter shouted with surprise.

The old man backed himself up next to the tree and in silence stared at the hunter.

“Who are you?” The man said again, this time raising his gun up at the old man.

“Grandson,” the old man replied, still holding his arm, “if you let me go your family will never want for food again. The game will always be slow and your aim always sure.”

The hunter thought for a minute but then figured that the old man’s promise was better than nothing at all, so he took a cloth from his bag and patched the old man’s arm up. The old man thanked him and quickly headed across the field and the woods.

The hunter was sad to return home without any food again, but just as he turned to go back up the mountain he spied a large doe grazing on some grass. The man crouched down, slowly raised his gun, took aim, and BANG! shot the deer where it stood. He rushed through the snow and there on the ground was the deer he shot. The man was overjoyed and as he began to tie the deer to his sled he heard a snort from behind him. Turning around the hunter looked across the field and spied the biggest white buck he’d ever seen. As the buck slowly disappeared into the fog the hunter saw that on its left front leg there was a small patch of red fur.

The man tied up the deer to his sled and returned home. From then on his family was always fed, the game was always slow and his aim was always sure. He told other hunters about what he’d seen, and while most of them didn’t believe the story all of them were sure to never take aim at the white buck if ever they saw him.

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