About 20 years ago I read an article in a periodical (can't remember which periodical) about a tribe of natives (I believe they were North American) who had a tradition of touching live deer. They would strip down into a loincloth, smother their bodies with ashes from a fire to mask their scent, stick grass and twigs in their hair then walk very quietly and slowly (~80 seconds per step) right up to deer. The test was to see if they could approach the deer without it noticing them or registering that they were a living being, and pluck a hair out of their tails as proof of their accomplishment. Some techniques used were to try and act like a bush, swaying with the breeze, some men got their hairs by extending their arms out like branches letting their fingers comb through the deers fur as it walked past ignorant of their presence, quickly plucking a tail hair at the last second.

I'm trying to rediscover this tribe of people, but I've so far had no luck in searching them out. Does anyone know who they were?

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    I've never heard of that one before, but it has a distinct resemblance to counting coup, so its quite believable.
    – T.E.D.
    Apr 20, 2015 at 17:51
  • @T.E.D. - Speaking of counting coup, I currently live across the river from the largest Blackfoot Indian reserve in Canada, I know a woman with the surname Many Guns from her great-grandfather I believe, who won a lot of coup by collecting guns from his enemies.
    – ShemSeger
    Apr 20, 2015 at 17:57
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    OT: lol I misread deer torchers, poor deers.
    – o0'.
    Apr 20, 2015 at 18:23
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    Supposedly Tom Brown wrote a Field and Stream article in the 70's or 80's about doing this (taught by a Native American friend). I cannot find the article, however maybe this will help someone else researching.
    – CGCampbell
    Apr 20, 2015 at 19:39
  • I thought I had read the article in the 90's, but the one linked in the accepted answer was written in 2000. Either way, it's the same guy and the same tribe. Though I don't remember the article I read being about a white guy...
    – ShemSeger
    Apr 20, 2015 at 21:29

1 Answer 1


"The Man Who Touches Deer", by Bill Heavey, Field and Stream, October 2000, p. 44.

The article is an interview of naturalist author Tom Brown, Jr., who claims he was taught as a child by a Lipan Apache scout.

  • That appears to be the article I read, the details in the article match up almost exactly with the ones I gave in my question, the only thing is the pictures don't match up with the ones in my head... Either way, Lipan Apache appears to be the correct answer.
    – ShemSeger
    Apr 20, 2015 at 21:27

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