How this creature can ruin a good day of hunting
As among the Japanese, so also among the Ainu, the fox, being famous for his
cunning, is accredited with supernatural powers. He is not only said to be able
to change his body into another form when it suits his purpose, but it is
reported that he is able to bewitch people, thereby making them ill, driving
them mad, or even causing them to die.
I was on a certain occasion out with an Ainu trying to shoot my dinner, and as
we were going along we chanced upon the footprints of a fox in the snow, and I
asked the Ainu whether we should go for it first and get its skin, and then
seek for food. He said "No" very decidedly, not if I desired to get a hare or
some ducks. Upon asking him what that had to do with it, he said that if we
killed the fox first we should certainly get nothing else that day, for the
spirit of the fox would, if we killed the body, travel round and let all the
other animals and birds know that we were coming. I therefore had respect for
his feelings and went after a hare instead.
In a conversation with this man afterwards he told me that all hunters in
ancient times, if, when they went hunting, killed a fox first, always tightly
tied up its mouth, to prevent the spirit from going to warn others, and I find
that many do this even at the present day.