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by Gary Paulsen

Hatchet Chapter 15 Summary

  • Brian counts the days by making a mark in a stone near his shelter. His sense of time, though, is different from what it used to be. Days aren't really important anymore—events, things that happen to him, are what mark the passage of time.
  • One of the most important days is the day he first catches an animal for meat. He craves meat and thinks a lot about his mother's roasts, turkey, or pork chops. Mmm.
  • The "foolbirds" seem to be everywhere, but at first Brian can't figure out how to catch them; they blend in to the woods so well that one of them might be two feet away from him and still he doesn't see it until it suddenly explodes upward in flight. Tricky little buggers.
  • But one day, Brian decides that he will get a foolbird no matter what. Things don't go well at first, and he still can't seem to see the birds until after they've flown. Finally, frustrated, Brian sits down at the base of a tree to think, but he can't come up with any new ideas. 
  • When he gets up to walk on, another foolbird takes off from right next to where he was sitting. As it flies, Brian notices its shape for the first time—it's a little pointed in front, and fatter at the other end. Seeing the birds in this new way gives him the key that he needs to outsmart their camouflage. Instead of looking for a color or for a whole bird, he starts to look for the bird's shape, and suddenly he starts finding the birds everywhere.
  • Perspective is everything.
  • Using this new perspective, Brian tries to catch a bird with his bow, but the arrows don't fly far enough or accurately enough. He tries throwing his fishing spear, but he's just not fast enough to get the birds before they can fly away. 
  • Eventually, Brian develops a method of sneaking up on the birds—walking sideways toward them until he's close enough to thrust the spear, instead of throwing it. By doing this he's able to catch and kill one of the foolbirds. 
  • Finally.
  • But taking the bird back to the shelter, Brian's not quite sure how to go about eating it. He knows that he has to clean it, but he doesn't know how. (They don't teach you this stuff in school.)
  • Finally, he just plucks the feathers off—they come off easily, pulling the skin off as well—and chops off the head and feet with his hatchet. Please, boys and girls, don't try this at home.
  • Saving a few of the feathers to use for his arrows, and taking the discarded parts down to the lake to lure fish into his trap, Brian puts the rest of the bird on a stick to roast over the fire. It takes him a while to figure out how best to cook it to avoid burning some and leaving the rest raw, but he tries to be patient. 
  • When he finally eats the bird, nothing has ever tasted so good to him. Hey, there's nothing like freshly killed bird.

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