Residence: Bourne, MA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 15, 2019
Primary Language: English
Text: “The Cape Cod Canal is very wide and the currents are dangerously swift. It divides the town of Bourne, MA into the mainland and Cape Cod. On the Cape Cod side is what was known then as the Edwards Air Force Base. It contained all the latest and most secret Air Force jets and other equipment and was very heavily guarded. The base was very big, comprising 20,000 acres. Trespassing of any kind was was not allowed. But there were lots of deer there. One legendary hunter by the name of George sneaked in there and shot a deer with his bow and arrow. Unfortunately, the deer ran away and George could not catch up with it. The next day the deer was found by the local officials. In those days, by law, you had to have your name on each arrow. Finding his arrow in the deer, they confronted George to arrest him for trespassing but his response was ‘I shot that deer legally on the other side of the Cape Cod Canal. He ran away and I saw him swim across the canal with my arrow stuck in him.’ With great embarrassment they had to let George go.”
Context: The subject is a 62-year-old white male from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I casually asked him if he knew of any legends related to the area and this is one that he told me.
Interpretation: This is a legend that is specifically associated with the region of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. More specifically, it has circulated around Bourne, Massachusetts because that is the town in which the Cape Cod Canal is located. It is also the town in which the Monument Beach Sportsman’s Club is located, which the man who told this story is a part of. Within the town of Bourne, which is also the town where I personally am from, I believe this legend has mainly been passed around among the men and women in the club because they are a group of people in the town who enjoy and practice hunting and other activities of this nature. I believe the purpose of this story is to inform listeners about the history of hunting in the town of Bourne as well as the “legendary” hunters that existed in the past. It could be used as a form of motivation to the people in the club to live up to George’s hunting prowess. In other words, this is regional folklore as well as folklore that pertains to a specific group of people, hunters.