Hunters would wear the head of a deer as a disguise.

Lesson 4: Hunting and Fishing

Lesson 1
The Land
Lesson 2
Lesson 3
Lesson 4
Hunting &

Lesson 5
Clothing & Appearance
Lesson 6
Ceremonies & Beliefs
Lesson 7
Leadership & Trading
Lesson 8
Final Project

Student Guide


Read the information about Hunting & Fishing

Look at all pictures on this page.
Be sure to click on any links or words that are underlined.

Find the answers to the following research questions.
Write your answers on
Student Worksheet 4

1. Whose job was it to hunt for food?

2. What animals did they hunt?

3. What tools were used to hunt with?

4. What happened in the sweat house?

5. What were their boats made of?


Extend your thinking! Click on
the activity below:
Tools of the Trade




The men of the Bay Miwok village were in charge of providing meat, fish, and fowl for their families. They ate every animal except the grizzly bear and skunk. Animals that were hunted were deer, elk, antelope, rabbits, ducks, geese and rodents. Meat was roasted over an open fire and was flavored with salt from seaweed or sea water.

The Bay Miwok men would prepare days before a deer hunt. They would gather in a sweat house, which only men were allowed to enter. In the center of the sweat house was a large fire pit. The men would sit around the fire and make or repair their hunting tools. They also prayed to the animal spirits for a successful hunt. They used a deer’s rib bone to wipe the sweat off their bodies. When the heat was more than they could stand, they would run out and jump into a stream to cool off. Right before the hunt the men would rub their bodies with bay leaf or mugwort to disguise their scent.

The men used a variety of tools to hunt and trap their prey. Bows, arrows and spears were used to kill deer, antelope and elk. The bows were three or four feet long. Their strings were made from plant fibers or animals tendons. The arrows and spears were made from a hard wood, such as the elderberry because its branches were very straight. A sharp point was attached to the tip of the arrow which was carved from wood , bone, antler, or rock such as obsidian. Often when hunting deer, the hunters would wear a head of a deer that was caught in an earlier hunt. Wearing this disguise, they would hide in tall grass or bushes and wait for the deer to get close enough to shoot with their bow and arrow.

To catch small animals such as rabbits, squirrels and rodents, they used nets made of grass fibers, traps, spears, clubs and knives. Fire was used to smoke ground animals out of their tunnel homes by fanning smoke with a feather into their hole. This made the animals come running out so they could be killed.

Nets were also used for trapping birds. The nets were spread across rivers so that birds would get caught in them as they flew. Sometimes hunters stuffed a dead goose or duck with tules to fool and attract live ducks. Once trapped the hunters could catch them.


Fish was another main source of food. Fishermen used spears, basket traps, snares, and nets to catch fish. The fishermen would fish in creeks, rivers and the bay, either from shore or from a boat. The boats were made from tules, just like their houses. These tule boats were made by tying three bundles of tules together. The Bay Miwok were very clever, they learned that the soap root plant would paralyze fish if thrown into the water. The fish would float to the surface and the fishermen would scoop them from the water with baskets.

When the men fished from the shore they used nets. The fishermen would drag the nets through the water and trap the fish. They also built basket traps from tule to catch salmon. These traps were cone shaped and acted like a funnel. The fish would swim into the large end of the trap and would be funneled into the waiting hands of the fishermen.

The Bay Miwok were skilled hunters and excellent fishermen. After each hunt, Bay Miwok hunters prayed for the animal's spirit. They believed that praying for the animal would help it be reborn. The Bay Miwok hunted only what they needed and carefully used every part of the animal they could. Nothing was ever wasted.


Only men were allowed in the sweathouse. Before a hunt, they sat around a fire and prayed to the animal spirits for good luck.
Bay Miwok used nets to catch wild geese
Visit this site to see photos of a tule boat being made
Tule Boat


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