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Deer were thought by Southeastern tribes to have an especially strong link to women and the female principle. Deer and women were “hunted” by men, who considered that their own links were with predatory animals.
In one Southeastern myth deer were originally easy to hunt since Kanati, the First Hunter, kept them in a cave in the woods. But Kanati’s mischievous sons, the Thunder Twins, opened the cave out of curiosity and the deer scattered to the four directions.A hunter who killed a deer made a ritual prayer asking for the animal’s forgiveness. If he did not do so, the Deer Spirit would swiftly afflict him with rheumatism, ending his career as a hunter. By eating deer a hunter acquired some of its speed and elusiveness.