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"Bel's Encounter with a Wise Owl," #39 Swapping Stories
Bel Abbey, Elton, Louisiana


We got all kind of owls where I come from. I live in the piney woods, along the creeks, small creeks. Got a lot of trees, lot of pine trees; that's where the owl likes to stay in there. They run after, like me, they go after animals all, too. I go after animals, too, like squirrels and rabbit. But the owls are very violent on the animals, like rats, like the birds, and all those small rabbits. They kill anything, and I do the same thing, too. We try to make a living together.

One time, it was so bad, I can't kill nothing in one day. I go look for it and I can't kill nothing. No bird or nothing. I ain't got no food to eat that night. So one night, I went. But I don't have no flashlight. So I cut me a pine stump, a pitch pine stump, about that long in there. I split it up, and I light the end. I go at night because I know where--they call it a brown thrasher--they got the bush in there, that's where they go roost at night. I go at night because I can't kill that day. I go at night with my blow gun. I go with my blow gun in there, and every time I see him--his breast was white when I see it, not too far from the bush--when I see it, I aim with my blow gun.

After a while, that pitch pine was burning, and resin was jumping my hand like this here. I jumped off, and I missed. That's what made me mad--it burned my hand. The resin fall on my hand. And after that, I shoot him again, and I aim it. I shoot it, I hit it, but I don't kill it. I got the dart in that brown thrasher, and the brown thrasher said, when I hit it. [Makes a bird noise.] He wanted to get away from me! After a while, he start running, and the owl somewhere back in there said. [Makes an owl noise twice.] I hit it--it tried to get away from me, and start running with my dart in it. After a while, the big old owl catch it first. He get it with my dart. He get my brown thrasher and went off with it. So I come home without a bird again. That's the end of my story about the owl.


Notes to the Teacher: Bel's respect for the wisdom of the owl (B122.0.3.) is shared by many cultures, Native American, Asian, and European (CL).

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