AppLit Home Native American Tales from Appalachia / Animal Tales Tina L. Hanlon

"The Rabbit, the Otter, and Duck Hunting"


The Rabbit Goes Duck Hunting. Online at Stonee's Web Lodge. Lore for October 1997. A painting "Dreams III" by artist D. L. Valdes accompanies this tale. In a contest to prove he can do what Otter does, Rabbit tries to catch a duck in a noose he makes from bark. The duck flies out of the water, dragging Rabbit along until he falls into a sycamore stump. He can't get out so he has to eat his own fur, as rabbits do when they are starving. Finally he hears some children and they get their father to cut open the tall stump after Rabbit calls out to them:Rabbit Goes Duck Hunting cover

"Cut a door and look at me;
I'm the prettiest thing you ever did see."

Duvall, Deborah LRabbit Goes Duck Hunting. Illus. Murv Jacob. Grandmother Stories Series. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 2005. 32 pp. Rabbit tries to catch a bigger wood duck than Otter. Jacob's beautifully detailed white-on-black drawings help tell the story in circular roundels and other shapes within each double-page spread, accompanied by traditional border designs. Similar intricate designs are reproduced on backgrounds in deep colors on the book jacket (at right) and end papers.

Arneach, Lloyd. "The Rabbit Goes Duck Hunting." In Long-Ago Stories of the Eastern Cherokee. Illus. Elizabeth Ellison. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2008. Arneach is a native Cherokee professional storyteller.

"Rabbit Goes Duck Hunting." In Judson, Katharine Berry, ed. Native American Legends of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi Valley. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2000. Includes other Cherokee tales "The Corn Woman," "Origin of the Bear," "The Death Trail,""Rabbit and Tar Wolf," "How Rabbit Stole Otter's Coat," "Welcome to a Baby," "Baby Song," "Song of the Mother Bears," "The Man in the Stump," "When the Owl Married," "How Partridge Got His Whistle," "How Kingfisher Got His Bill," "Ball Game of the Birds and Animals," "The Groundhog Dance,""Why the 'Possum's Tail is Bare," "The Wolf and the Dog," "The Star Creatures," "The Thunders," "The Man of Ice," "The Nunnehi," "The Little People," "The War Medicine." Originally published Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes. Chicago: A.C. McClurg, 1914.

Hamilton, Anna Blanche. Rabbit Goes Duck Hunting: Cherokee Indian Legend. Washington: U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1954. 13 pp. Illustrations. Listed in WorldCat as juvenile literature, retold by Hamilton.

This tale was featured in the national news on Oct. 24 and 25, 2002. Two snipers suspected of comitting 14 random shootings, who were arrested Oct. 24, had sent messages in which they asked officials to say on the news that they were "caught like a duck in a noose." Many news agencies reported that the killers were apparently alluding to the Cherokee folktale about the boastful rabbit who tries to catch a duck, but gets caught instead. See, for example, "Like a Duck in a Noose," at and the Associated Press story "'Duck in a Noose' Refers to Cherokee Story."

Related Appalachian Tales:

"Pigeon Pie." In Roberts, Leonard. Old Greasybeard: Tales From the Cumberland Gap. Illus. Leonard Epstein. Detroit: Folklore Associates, 1969. Rpt. Pikeville, KY: Pikeville College Press, 1980, pp. 164-65. In the section on Humorous and Tall Tales, this tale is told in first person by someone who tries to shoot pigeons for his wife to cook. He gets them stuck to a tree with rosin and while he's trying to bag them, they fly up with him and the tree. He jumps out to avoid going over the ocean and falls into a hollow chestnut snag with some bear cubs. When the mother bear comes down the snag, he stabs her and she goes up with him after her. Told by several generations in Knox County, KY. Roberts lists variants of the tale from many places in the US and world.

"The Unlucky Hunt." In Burrison, John A., ed.  Storytellers: Folktales and Legends from the South. Athens, GA: U of GA Pr, 1989, pp. 256-58. The man in this tale in Burrison's "Jests: Tall Tales" section is trying to throw a rope around turkeys up in a tree. He falls into a hollow tree with two bear cubs and gets out by stabbing another bear on its way down, as in "Pigeon Pie," above. Told by a man in GA who grew up in NC. Burrison relates the tale to several tale types and motifs, including types 1881, The Man Carried Through the Air by Geese, and 1900, How the Man Came Out of a Tree Stump. He sites other examples from Ozark tall tales and from Davy Crockett's 1840 almanac.

Many other animal tales and pourquoi tales in the Native American section of this index, and in Mooney's Myths of the Cherokee, Duncan's Living Stories of the Cherokee, and other collections. In Gayle Ross's How Rabbit Tricked Otter and Other Cherokee Animal Stories (Illus. Murv Jacobs. The Parabola Storytime Series. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. Caedmon Audio cassette, 1996), the title tale is about rabbit succeeding in tricking otter and getting his furry coat away from him, while otter ends up staying in the water.

Rabbit is also a braggart and trickster in "The Rabbit and Old Flint" - see The Cherokee Little People.

How Rabbit Lost His Tail - or - How Rabbit Stole Otter's Coat

Appalachian Picture Book Bibliography: Cherokee Tales

Compare with:

Many other tales about rabbits as tricksters, especially in African and Native American traditions.

"Brer Rabbit," the most famous African-American trickster tale.

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