Monday, December 18, 2006

More Shafts and a Basket

I took a trip to Eagle Creek Park on Saturday to visit my favorite spot for harvesting arrow shafts. The Last time I went was during the late summer. At that time there was more sap in the wood. The arrow shafts shrank as they dried. This time more of the sap is down in the roots so I don't think they will shrink as much.

I carefully selected eight branches from various shrubs. Before cutting each branch I first checked with inner vision to determine whether I should take it. Using inner vision is something I learned at the Tracker School. It is a way of spiritually communicating with all of nature. It is useful for many things, but in this case I can use it to determine whether removing the branch will help or hurt the environment. The great benefit is that I don't have to rely on my knowledge of the ecosystem to determine this.

I could have easily harvested a dozen or more shafts if I wasn't doing it in a caretaking manner. There were many very nice straight branches that I passed on because removing them would have hurt the shrub. It's also worth noting that by limiting the number of shafts I harvest, I can give each one more attention as I straighten them over the coming weeks.

Before cutting I also gave thanks to the branch and shrub for giving its life for me. After I made my cut, I spread mud over the cut. The main reason I did this is so that it wasn't easily visible that someone cut a branch. The bright cut of the branch stands out in the dull brown of the landscape at this time of year. The shrubs were on a main path so people may walk by them often. I don't think it is exactly legal to cut branches in the park. I have no regrets because I am caretaking, leaving the woods better off than I found them.

The shafts I have are pretty straight, but I'll be bending them each night as they dry to make them straighter. I don't feel guilty watching tv if I spend that time straightening arrow shafts. They are a little thick, but after they dry, the bark is removed and they are sanded, they should make good arrow shafts.

With the excess branch parts that aren't going to become arrow shafts, I made a basket. I started the basket with the refuse from my earlier harvest. Last night I was able to finish it. It is made completely from leftover Arrowwood Viburnum branches. The handle is a little small so I probably won't be carrying anything heavy in it. I may either add a stronger handle or remove it entirely.


torjusgaaren said...

I am not a big fan of the Tom Brown's quasi-Native American spiritualism. But definately the other way around with the basket you have made there! It is gorgeous! I have to make myself one of those.

Have you tried making shaft directly from fresh wood? I used to dry the shafts too, but they are so hard to work with stone tools. Instead, I carve them and straighten them on a fire and dry them by the fire until they ok. They will get better in time, but they are servicable the same day.

Sassmouth said...

The first arrow I attempted to make was from fresh wood. I scraped it, oiled it and let it dry. This is the way I would do it if I needed the arrows quickly or if I was using stone tools. In this case, I'm basically harvesting arrows for next hunting season so I have time. I'm using metal tools, but now that you mention it, I should try to make at least one with stone tools. I think abraiding the nock will be the hard part.

torjusgaaren said...

The nock part is very easy, at least after the wood has seasoned. It's hard to explain, but I will make some drawings and take photos of it and then put it on my blog in maybe about a month. Perhaps a little more. :)

DC Skillz said...

Good score on the shafts. Those suckers are pretty straight.

I'm looking at a bush or two here around my office in our habitat area for arrows. I plucked some of those arrowwood viburnum seeds when they came out to grow at my house this year. Hopefully they'll take to the urban soil readily.

Torjus, I checked your blog yesterday and your skills are sweet. Funny how you and sassmouth have parallel blogs on opposite sides of the ocean. You bull boat was way badass. I've got plans to make one this spring. I know the spiritual approach to skills rubs a lot of people the wrong way, especially when it is preached and not practiced. It kills me sometinmes too. I think it was cool how you are said that up front. Keep working those skills you two.

Mungo said...

I've been trimming some willow from a park close to where I live, for various activities. While they would likely say I should not be doing it, I know the gardeners cut down the willow bushes in the spring anyway - it is such nice wood and the smell is nice.