Every morning before they started the hunt, Thag would sit down away from the others, close his eyes, and listen to the wind. It was more than that, but that is what he told the other hunters. Really what he did was sit, and let his mind go blank.
At first it would be filled with thoughts and concerns — mostly about Onga, his mate, and his running feud with that phallus-with-ears shaman, Weasel-Scratch-Face-Brother. He would not concentrate on those thoughts, but let them wash away, and eventually, his mind would loosen, and he could hear the wind distinctly; its whooshes and gusts, its whispers, and then the smells would come to him.
This morning ritual heightened his ability to sense the prey.
In stark contrast to Thag, Gnock had another way of preparing for the hunt. This ritual involved a lot of shouting, and banging the shaft of his wooden spear against his head, numbing himself to pain, and more importantly, fear.
Gnock had been doing this since his brother Grunk had been killed by the wooly rhino.
One morning, Thag came back from his meditation earlier than usual, and told the other hunters: “go higher ground, upwind. Smell cave lions. Many.”
“Many hunting us?” asked Vlog, one of the sharpest hunters.
“Un,” Thag confirmed.
This was bad news indeed. Cave lions did not normally travel in groups, and they would not fear the humans if they had numbers on their side.
“Much goodly!” Gnock, who had stopped bashing his melon long enough to hear this news, said.
“You mammoth gas sniffing?” Vlog asked Gnock.
Gnock just grinned insanely, and said, “hunt us cave lion!” Then he started shouting: “here cave lion. Lion, lion, liiiiiii-on!”
“Gnock be quiet,” Vlog hissed.
Gnock ignored the sensible suggested: “Lion, lion, liiiiiii-on!”
Thag had been meditating, but if anything it made his reaction quicker. He used his own spear to whack Gnock on the back of the head, much harder than Gnock had been doing to himself.
The shouting stopped, but the trouble was just starting. The wind stopped blowing for a moment, and Thag heard something. He told the others: “they come. Climb trees.”
Vlog looked at Gnock and said, “what him?”
Thag looked down sadly at Gnock, and just shook his head. “Not time carry up tree.”