Challenge 2: Hunting for Supper

The Matsés hunt all kinds of rain forest creatures for food. Pig-like peccaries. Rabbit-sized rodents called pacas. Wild turkeys. To hunt them, they use a bow and arrow.

Matsés bows and arrows are finely crafted, and they are precious. Kane’s group had only one bow and one arrow, which belonged to the best hunter. He shared it with everyone.

Kane soon learned how much skill it took to hunt in this way. The bow was as tall as he was. The arrow had two forks on the tip. Because it was the only one, it had to be retrieved after every shot. If it broke, the Matsés fixed the shaft and kept using it.

One night Kane went along on a wild turkey hunt. Kane was amazed by the hunters’ skill at tracking animals by sound. They knew exactly which animal made which sound. The Matsés could also mimic, or copy, an animal’s call to locate it. Then they moved along noiselessly.

City dwellers Kane and his dad made too much noise as they moved. The Matsés asked them to stay still until they had found the animal or bird they were after.

Suddenly, the guide spotted a turkey. He handed Kane the bow and arrow. Whoosh! Kane's arrow just missed, and the bird escaped. A lucky day for the bird, but not one for Kane and the Matsés!

Kane practices his hunting skills with a bow and arrow. 

Kane crosses a fast-moving creek on a bridge he helped build from a fallen log.

Matsés Ways

One day, the group paddled a dugout canoe for nine hours. They wanted to go to a different settlement where the people still follow their ancient ways.

People here pierce their noses with the thin ribs of palm leaves. They are sometimes called the “cat people” because the palm leaves look like the whiskers of jaguars. Men also wear necklaces of jaguar teeth.

Before a hunt, the men here sometimes hold ceremonies to make them strong. In one, an elder blows smoke from a mix of tobacco and cacao (cocoa bean) up the nostrils of another hunter. In another ceremony, men burn their skin and then rub poison into the burned area. Kane did not try those two customs!


This tribe of people revere the jaguar. They pierce their noses with pieces of palms to mimic a jaguar’s whiskers.