Sunday, August 13, 2006

Jackpot: Arrow Shafts

In my last post I mentioned a class I'm taking at the end of April. The class is called The Sacred Hunt. I will actually be hunting deer the way the Native Americans did. This means I'll be hunting with all natural gear. I already made a bow, but I don't currently have natural arrows. I've never made any before. I'm most worried about the arrow shafts.

The first problem is getting them. I don't really have any idea where to find them. The second problem is timing. Being summer any shafts I find now will need to dry out for many weeks before they are ready to shoot. I only have till the end of October to have them fully prepared. Another problem is making sure the spine or stiffness of the shaft will match the strength of my bow.

Last weekend I went to Broad Ripple Park (where my sit spot is) and looked around and didn't find any shafts. So yesterday (Saturday) I drove over to Eagle Creek Park to have a look around. It is a far bigger park so I figured I'd have a better chance. I ate lunch in a picnic area that was next to a wooded area. Afterwards I walked into the woods keeping my eye out for potential arrow shafts.

I didn't take long before I spotted a large shrub with a very long and straight sapling shooting up. I couldn't believe how straight and free of branches it was. I looked at the leaves and berries so that I could later identify it. I took a few moments to think and feel whether the sapling was really what I needed and when I felt confident I cut it. I continued walking around the area and found many more of these shrubs. I ended up harvesting six shafts. I cut them down to size on site. To make the most use out of the sapling, I kept the excess material to make a basket.

When I got home from the park I tried to look up the shrub in a book, but couldn't find it. Today I was in Bloomington at a Tracking Club gathering and showed my friend Kevin a picture of the leaves from the shrub. He didn't recognize it, but mentioned the possibility of Arrowwood Viburnum. Once he said that I remembered the email my brother sent me about Arrowwood a week earlier. I had the feeling that my shafts might be Arrowwood. Tonight I looked up Arrowwood and the leaves and berries both matched exactly.

So to recap, I've never harvested arrow shafts before. I went to Eagle Creek Park where I've never been before. I chose a random place to eat lunch and then wandered into the woods. There I stumbled upon shrub after shrub of Arrowwood Viburnum, a plant so good for making arrows, that it was named as such. Jackpot! The best part is that I can return there in the future and harvest more.

My six super straight shafts and the basket I started with the excess material.

My task now is to "train" the shafts to be perfectly straight by taking out the bends as they dry. Basically each day I'll bend the bends in the opposite direction and eventually they'll stay straight.

Before I left the park I decided to stop by the Nature Center. On my way in a man was walking out with an injured Great Horned Owl. He said he thought it had been hit by a car. If you look closely, you can see the lack of feathers between his eyes. He was alive, but was pretty much out of it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Green Arrow Head

Unfortunately I didn't get to demonstrate a bow drill fire for the kids at Camp Delafield because it rained the night they were supposed to have their campfire. I did a fair amount of practicing for it though. I always learn something new when I practice the bow drill. This past time I was struggling to get a coal. As I was churning away my handhold started smoking. Apparently the lubricant had worn out. Once I applied some soap to the handhold, I busted out a coal quickly since the movement was so much smoother.

I've recently been working on flintknapping. I need to make some primitive arrows for a hunting class I'm taking at the end of October. So I figured I start with making the arrow heads. So far I haven't made any arrow heads out of the obsidian rock I have, but I did make one out of some fiber optic glass. I'm still working on notching. These notches aren't very good.