Friday, September 21, 2007

Hunting in Virginia

Saturday early archery hunting season began. My brother and I woke up at 5am and headed out into the Virginia woods about an hour south of Washington D.C.. Sometime after 7:30am I saw a small deer approaching. I was sitting on the ground with my feet in a dugout pit. It was as if I were sitting in a chair where my butt was level with the ground.

The deer was approaching from the side that had almost no cover. The hunting blind was set up for the deer to come the other direction. When I saw it, I slowly leaned over and laid my chest on the ground with my bow extended in shooting position. The deer continued in my general direction, but was starting to angle away.

Mentally, I called to her and told her there were acorns by me which there were. She turned and came closer towards me. At one point she was about 12 yards away. There was absolutely nothing between her and me and yet she hadn't seen me. I had a perfect broadside shot.

I let her walk on. Why didn't I shoot? It didn't feel right. I wasn't confident that I wouldn't just injure the deer. I was laying in a awkward position, with a shirt draped over one eye, using an arrow that shoots crooked about 3 yards outside the range I practice shooting from at a smaller than expected deer. This was also the first day of hunting. I thought I would surely have better opportunities.

As it turns out I went hunting four more times over the next 3 days and saw that same deer again, but no others. We think that the rest of the deer are hanging out closer to the river at this time of year.

It was exciting and having a deer so close with nothing between between her and me was a thrill. I learned a lot from each time in the woods. I saw a fox and heard him barking. I heard lots of different birds including two barred owls squawking at each other which is pretty funny to hear.

This is my first all natural arrow. The point is dacite stone. It was hafted in using pitch and sinew. The shaft is viburnum and the fletchings are sinew and turkey feathers.

Her you can see the shirt I wore on my head. I did this because the mosquitoes were pretty bad. Here I have the side tucked tightly to my head. The first day I didn't so they draped in front of my eye. To get this look I first dabbed on white ash to dull my skin. The black is charcoal and the lighter color is clay.

One day my brother showed me how to make a carrying case for my bow. This is made from braintanned deer skins. I cut long thin strips to sew it all together.

8 days till I start my journey out west.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Open Season

Hunting season starts tomorrow. I write this as I'm about to head out the door to drive to Washington D.C. My brother, his roommate and I are going to hunt at a friend's property in Virginia. We will all be hunting with primitive self made bows and arrows.

The point on the left I'm hoping to haft into and arrow. It is the first point I've made that is good enough to hunt with. The notches are kind of bad, but the width is almost an inch at the greatest. I'm hoping to make the piece on the right look like the one on the left tomorrow.

I finished my bow string made out of yucca fibers, but when I shot with it, it broke. You can see at the top right where it broke. For now, I'm going to hunt with a nylon string.

Hopefully the next time I post something it will be a picture of me with a deer.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Flint Ridge Knap-In 2007

Last weekend I met my brother at the Flint Ridge Knap-In in Ohio. It is one of the biggest flintknapping gatherings in the country. It's special because it takes place at a historic flint quarry. You may be able to read the words in the picture below, but in summary, the site was used to quarry and make flint arrowheads and spear points for 10,000 years. Looking at an overhead map of the area, you can see thousands of small quarries that are mostly filled with water now.

I bought 40+ pounds of dacite and obsidian rock to tide me over for awhile. The following day the guy I bought it from bought a hickory stave for bow making from me which basically gave me half my money back. It worked out beautifully. I spent most of my time knapping. I'm still a beginner and haven't made an arrowhead suitable for hunting. I'm trying to finish at least one before I go hunting in a week.

The is one piece of obsidian I was working on. I haven't been able to make this into a point yet.

They had an atlatl (spear-thrower) range set up and allowed anyone to try it for free. They also had a competition where you threw three darts at five different distances. I didn't do very well, but my brother did. It was fun though. I'm going to have to makes some darts for the atlatl I made.

My brother and I had to make an unexpected trip to Iowa following the knap-in, so we stopped by my viburnum patch on the way out of Indy. We each harvested some gorgeous shafts. Today I'm going to start working on a bowstring made of yucca fibers. If I can do that and make a stone arrow head, I can hunt with completely primitive gear in a week.