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Dicke, Robert J. (ed.) / Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume XLIV (1955)

McCabe, Robert A.
The prehistoric engineer-farmers of Chihuahua,   pp. 75-90 PDF (6.1 MB)


Page 88

 88 Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters [Vol. 44 
during a hunting trip by Aldo Leopold in 1938 was generally the same as we
found it in 1948. 
 Carl Lumholtz'° who traveled extensively in all parts of Mexico, has
this to say of the Gavilan watershed in 1891: "Never have I been at any place
where deer were so plentiful." It seems highly unlikely that deer were absent
in preconquest times, although Obregon's History of 16th Century Explorations
in Western Americal7 records how the expedition of Francisco de Iberra passed
through this region in 1565—66 and almost starved to death, subsisting
on bitter acorns,, horse flesh and in desperation on shoes, hides and dirty
leather straps. However, a noisy, marching army of men untrained in mountain
hunting would likely not see a deer where deer might be relatively abundant.
In this same narrative of Iberra's suffering, Obregon mentions Indians who
live on "all sorts of game and wild reptiles"; deer per Se, are not mentioned.
 Supporting the thesis that deer were present is the account by Cabeza de
Vaca,18 who with several white men and a large group of Indians passed through
this same region'° about 1533. He writes that on one occasion a small
group of Indians armed with bows and arrows went into the hills and returned
at nightfall with over 20 deer. Another method of taking deer mentioned by
Beals2° was to poison water holes used by deer. Cabeza de Vaca, was an
educated white man who traveled and lived like an Indian. His narrative indicates
that he was deer conscious principally because of the food value. Frequent
mention is made of deer in the late stages of his journey when he crossed
Sonora (and Chihuahua?). 
 A final word on the occurrence of deer in this area during the Sixteenth
Century comes from Bandelier's translation of Cabeza de Vaca's narrative:
16Ibid., p. 53. 
17 George Peter Hammond and Agapito Rey (translation). Obregon's History
of 
26th Century Explorations in Western America. Wetzel Publishing ' Co., Los
Angeles, California, 1928. 
18Ibid., p. 143. 
19Hubei~t H. Bancroft's History of Arizona and New Mexico (San Francisco,
1889) and Bandelier, 1905, op. cit., indicate that Cabeza de Vaca passed
in a westerly direction very c'ose to the Gavilan River. Cleve Hallenbeck's
Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Va~a: The Journey~and Route of the First European
to cross the Continent of North America 1534-1536 (The Arthur H. Clark Co.,
Glendale, Calif., 1940, pp. 326) reviews the various routes that historians
say Nufiez was supposed to have taken. I conclude from his route map opposite
page 3013 that the route proposed by Sauer (Ibid., 1932) and Hallenbeck collectively
best fitted the early accounts as presented. This however does not effect
the text hypothesis since the route of Sauer and Hallenbeck passes northwest
of the hairpin turn in the Bavispe River at a point about 80 air-line miles
from the Gavilan watershed. The country topographically, botanically and
game wise is generally comparable. 
~Ibid., p. 103. 


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