Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Hunting Animals in Pennsylvania: They Find One More Way to Kill

I don't see why they can't just stick to one way to kill. Must be getting bored.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051118/ap_on_re_us/ancient_weapon
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Pa. May Let Hunters Use Ancient Weapon

By MARK SCOLFORO, Associated Press WriterFri Nov 18, 4:54 AM ET
An ancient weapon that was apparently used as early as prehistoric times
to slay woolly mammoths may soon be added to the arsenals of Pennsylvania
hunters.

The state Game Commission is drafting proposed regulations to allow
hunters to use the atlatl, a small wooden device that propels a six-foot
dart as fast as 80 mph. The commission could vote in January and make a
final decision in April, officials said.

It's not yet clear which animals would be hunted, but the proposal has the
support of people who want to kill deer with the handmade weapon of Stone
Age design.

"For me, it would be a thrill to have a deer get up close enough and to
throw my dart and hit the deer, bag it like my ancestors did," said Jack
Rowe, 45, a veteran hunter and atlatl enthusiast from Sayre.

In Alabama, one of a handful of states that allows atlatls for hunting or
fishing, few hunters use them during deer season, said Allan Andress,
chief fish and game enforcement officer for the state Department of
Conservation and Natural Resources.

Even spear hunters
Alabama game law also allows spears
outnumber those using atlatls.

"As you might imagine, it's not something that most people have the skill
or the patience for," Andress said.

Pennsylvania Atlatl Association president Gary L. Fogelman, who got the
atlatl bug about 20 years ago, said he doubts large numbers of deer will
ever be killed with the weapon.

"You've got to know what you're doing, you've got to be good with all the
outdoor skills in order to be able to score with this thing," said
Fogelman, who publishes Indian Artifact Magazine.

To use an atlatl
the name is derived from an Aztec word for "throwing board"
hunters hook arrowlike hunting darts into the end of the weapon, which is
generally a wooden piece about 2 feet long. The leverage of the atlatl
allows them to throw the 5- to 8-foot darts much farther than they could
throw a spear.

At BPS Engineering in Manhattan, Mont., a leading manufacturer of atlatls,
owner Bob Perkins said customers pay $140 for a 2-foot maple
production-line model, the Warrior, and a set of five 5 1/2-foot aluminum
darts.

Perkins has killed two deer with atlatls and recently killed his first
buffalo.

"Atlatls were the first true weapon system developed by the human race,"
he said. "Comparatively speaking, the bow and arrow was a recent
development in projectile technology."

There is evidence the weapons were used more than 8,000 years ago in
Pennsylvania, said Kurt Carr, an archaeologist with the Pennsylvania
Historical and Museum Commission.

Prehistoric atlatls have a distinctive counterweight feature called a
winged banner stone that has helped confirm their existence. Atlatl use
goes back far as 12,000 years elsewhere in North America and far longer in
Europe.

"It takes some practice, but it's like the bow and arrow. I can't shoot a
bow and arrow for beans, but I can use an atlatl more effectively," he
said.

The World Atlatl Association, which has 380 members, has held an annual
accuracy contest since the mid-1990s, and this year more than 2,000 people
participated.

"People that are interested in archaeology and ancient history are the
ones that seem to be drawn to it," said association president Richard B.
Lyons, a retired firefighter from Jeffersonville, Ind.

Game Commissioner Roxane Palone, who generally supports legalization of
atlatl hunting, said some other game commissioners probably will join her
in voting in favor of its use.

"It's a good way to expand hunting opportunities," she said. "I don't
think it's any more unusual than people who use long bows to hunt."

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