Hunting With The Bow & Arrow
By Saxton T. (Saxton Temple) Pope

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More books about Archery

17 chapters

6 hour read


13 minute read

The glory and romance of archery culminated in England before the discovery of America. There, no doubt, the bow was used to its greatest perfection, and it decided the fate of nations. The crossbow and the matchlock had supplanted the longbow when Columbus sailed for the New World. It was, therefore, a distinct surprise to the first explorers of America that the natives used the bow and arrow so effectively. In fact, the sword and the horse, combined with the white man's superlative self-assurance, won the contest over the aborigines more than the primitive blunderbuss of the times. The bow and arrow was still more deadly than the gun. With the gradual extermination of the American Indian, the westward march of civilization, and the improvement in firearms, this contest became more and more unequal, and the bow disappeared from the land. The last primitive Indian archer was discovered in California...


20 minute read

Although much has been written in history and fiction concerning the archery of the North American Indian, strange to say, very little has been recorded of the methods of manufacture of their weapons, and less in accurate records of their shooting. It is a great privilege to have lived with an unspoiled aborigine and seen him step by step construct the most perfect type of bow and arrow. The workmanship of Ishi was by far the best of any Indian in America; compared with thousands of specimens in the museum, his arrows were the most carefully and beautifully made; his bow was the best. It would take too much time to go into the minute details of his work, and this has all been recorded in anthropologic records, [Footnote: See Yahi Archery , Vol. 13, No. 3, Am. Archaeology and Ethnology .] but the outlines of his methods are as...


11 minute read

Hunting with Ishi was pure joy. Bow in hand, he seemed to be transformed into a being light as air and as silent as falling snow. From the very first we went on little expeditions into the country where, without appearing to instruct, he was my teacher in the old, old art of the chase. I followed him into a new system of getting game. We shot rabbits, quail, and squirrels with the bow. His methods here were not so well defined as in the approach to larger game, but I was struck from the first by his noiseless step, his slow movements, his use of cover. These little animals are flushed by sound and sight, not scent. Another prominent feature of Ishi's work in the field was his indefatigable persistence. He never gave up when he knew a rabbit was in a clump of brush. Time meant nothing to...


22 minute read

Our experience with Ishi waked the love of archery in us, that impulse which lies dormant in the heart of every Anglo-Saxon. For it is a strange thing that all the men who have centered about this renaissance in shooting the bow, in our immediate locality, are of English ancestry. Their names betray them. Many have come and watched and shot a little, and gone away; but these have stayed to hunt. From shooting the bow Indian fashion, I turned to the study of its history, and soon found that the English were its greatest masters. In them archery reached its high tide; after them its glory passed. But the earliest evidence of the use of the bow is found in the existence of arrowheads assigned to the third interglacial period, nearly 50,000 years ago. That man had material culture prior to this epoch, there is no doubt, and the...


35 minute read

Every field archer should make his own tackle. If he cannot make and repair it, he will never shoot very long, because it is in constant need of repair. Target bows and arrows may be bought in sporting stores, here or in England, but hunting equipment must be made. Moreover, when a man manufactures his bow and arrows, he appreciates them more. But it will take many attempts before even the most mechanically gifted can expect to produce good artillery. After having made more than a hundred yew bows, I still feel that I am a novice. The beginner may expect his first two or three will be failures, but after that he can at least shoot them. Since there are so many different kinds of bows and all so inferior to the English long-bow, we shall describe this alone. Yew wood is the greatest bow timber in the world....


19 minute read

Fletching is a very old art and, necessarily, must have many empirical methods and principles involved. There are innumerable types of arrows, and an equal number of ways of making them. For an excellent description of a good way to make target arrows, the reader is referred to that chapter by Jackson in the book American Archery . Having learned several aboriginal methods of fletching and studied all the available literature on the subject, we have adopted the following maneuvers to turn out standard hunting arrows: The first requisite is the shaft. Having tested birch, maple, hickory, oak, ash, poplar, alder, red cedar, mahogany, palma brava, Philippine nara, Douglas fir, red pine, white pine, spruce, Port Orford cedar, yew, willow, hazel, eucalyptus, redwood, elderberry, and bamboo, we have adopted birch as the most rigid, toughest and suitable in weight for hunting arrows. Douglas fir and Norway pine are best for...


7 minute read

Besides a bow and arrow, the archer needs to have a quiver, a bow case, a waterproof quiver case, an arm guard or bracer, and a shooting glove or leather finger tips. Our quivers are made of untanned deer hide, usually from deer shot with the bow. The hide, having been properly cleaned, stretched, and dried, is cut down the center, each half making a quiver. Marking a quadrilateral outline twenty-four inches on two sides, twelve at the larger end, and nine at the smaller, in such a way that the hair points from the larger to the smaller end; cut this piece and soak it in water until soft, and wash it clean with soap. At the same time cut a circular piece off the tough neck skin, three inches in diameter. With a furrier's needle having three sharp edges, and heavy waxed thread, or better yet, with catgut,...


12 minute read

First, brace your bow. To do this properly, grasp it at the handle with your right hand, the upper horn upward and the back toward you. Place the lower horn at the instep of your right foot, and the base of your left palm against the back of the bow, near the top below the loop of the string. Holding your left arm stiff and toward your left side, your right elbow fixed on your hip, pull up on the handle by twisting your body so that the bow is sprung away from you. The string is now relaxed, and the fingers of the left hand push it upward till it slips in the nock. Don't try to force the string, and don't get your fingers caught beneath it. Do most of the work with the right hand pulling against the rigid left arm. The proper distance between the bow...


22 minute read

In the early dawn of life man took up weapons against the beasts about him. With club, ax, spear, knife, and sling he protected himself or sought his game. To strike at a distance, he devised the bow. With the implements of the chase he has won his way in the world. Today there is no need to battle with the beasts of prey and little necessity to kill wild animals for food; but still the hunting instinct persists. The love of the chase still thrills us and all the misty past echoes with the hunter's call. In the joy of hunting is intimately woven the love of the great outdoors. The beauty of woods, valleys, mountains, and skies feeds the soul of the sportsman where the quest of game only whets his appetite. After all, it is not the killing that brings satisfaction, it is the contest of skill...


16 minute read

Of all the canny beasts, Brother Coon is the wisest, and were it not for his imprudence and self-assurance, he would be less frequently captured than the coyote, who is also a very clever gentleman. As it is, a raccoon hunt is a nocturnal escapade that may be enjoyed by any lively boy or man who happens to own a coon dog. Now a coon dog is any sort of a dog that has a sporting instinct and a large propensity for combat. We have, of course, that product of culture and breeding, the coon hound, an offshoot from the English fox hound. This dog is a marvel in his own sphere. Although we have not devoted a great deal of time to coon hunting, one or another of our group has counted the scalps of quite a number of Procyon lotor . Having been accepted as a companion of...


19 minute read

Deer are the most beautiful animals of the woods. Their grace, poise, agility, and alertness make them a lovely and inspiring sight. To see them feed undisturbed is wonderful; such mincing steps, such dainty nibbling is a lesson in culture. With wide, lustrous eyes, mobile ears ever listening, with moist, sensitive nostrils testing every vagrant odor in the air, they are the embodiment of hypersensitive self-preservation. And yet deer are not essentially timid animals. They will venture far through curiosity, and I have seen them from the hilltop, being run by dogs, play and trifle with their pursuers. The dog, hampered by brush and going only by scent, follows implicitly the trail. The deer runs, leaps high barriers, doubles on his tracks, stops to browse at a tempting bush, even waits for the dog to catch up with him, and leads him on in a merry chase. I feel sure...


24 minute read

Killing bears with the bow and arrow is a very old pastime, in fact, it ranks next in antiquity to killing them with a club. However, it has faded so far into the dim realms of the past that it seems almost mythical. The bear has stood for all that is dangerous and horrible for ages. No doubt, our ancestral experiences with the cave bears of Europe stamped the dread of these mighty beasts indelibly in our hearts. The American Indians in times gone past killed them with their primitive weapons, but even they have not done it lately, so it can be considered a lost art. The Yana's method of hunting bears has been described. Here they made an effort to shoot the beast in the open mouth. Ishi said that the blood thus choked and killed him. But after examining the bear skulls, it seems to me that...


23 minute read

The cougar, panther, or mountain lion is our largest representative of the cat family. Early settlers in the Eastern States record the existence of this treacherous beast in their conquest of the forests. The cry of the "painter," as he was called, rang through the dark woods and caused many hearts to quaver and little children to run to mother's side. Once in a while stories came of human beings having met their doom at the swift stealthy leap of this dreaded beast. He was bolder then than now. Today he is not less courageous, but more cautious. He has learned the increased power of man's weapons. Our Indians knew that he would strike, as they struck, without warning and at an advantage. It is a matter of tradition among frontiersmen that he has upon rare occasions attacked and killed bears. Even today he will attack man if provoked by...


55 minute read

The very idea of shooting grizzly bears with the bow and arrow strikes most people as so absurd that they laugh at the mention of it. The mental picture of the puny little archery implements of their childhood opposed to that of the largest and most fearsome beast of the Western world, produces merriment and incredulity. Because it seemed so impossible, I presume, this added to our desire to accomplish it. Ever since we began hunting with the bow, we had talked of shooting grizzlies. We thought of an Alaskan trip as a remotely attainable adventure, and planned murderous arrows of various ingenious spring devices to increase their cutting qualities. We estimated the power of formidable bows necessary to pierce the hides of these monsters. In fact, it was the acme of our hunting desires. We read the biography of John Capen Adams and his adventures with the California grizzlies,...


16 minute read

It seems as if Fate had chosen my hunting companion, Arthur Young, to add to the honor and the legends of the bow. At any rate it fell to his lot to make two trips to Alaska between the years 1922 and 1925. He and his friend, Jack Robertson, were financed in a project to collect moving-picture scenes of the Northland. They were instructed to show the country in all its seasonal phases, to depict the rivers, forests, glaciers and mountains, particularly to record the summer beauties of Alaska. The animal life was to be featured in full:--fish, birds, small game, caribou, mountain sheep, moose and bear, all were to be captured on the celluloid film, and with all this a certain amount of hunting with the bow was to be included and the whole woven into a little story of adventure. Equipped with cameras, camp outfit and archery tackle,...


16 minute read

No one can read Dr. Pope's book without an appreciation of the romance and charm of the long bow and the broad-head arrow. And no one can doubt that the little group of which he writes has proved that the thing can be done. Its members have brought to bag quantities of small game, unnumbered deer, mountain goat, big horn sheep, moose, caribou, thirteen black bears, six grizzlies, and one monster Kadiak bear. That point it proved beyond doubt. But, each will ask; how about it for me? These men are experts. It all looks very fascinating; but what chance have I? That, I believe, is the first reaction of the average man after he has savored the real literary charm of this book and begins to consider the practical side of the question. It was my own reaction. Fortunately, I live within commuting distance of Dr. Pope, so I...


4 minute read

In ancient times when archery was practiced in open fields and shooting at butts or clouts, men walked between their distances much as golfers do today, and having completed their course, it was often customary to shoot a return round over the same field. This was called the upshot, and has descended into common parlance, just as many other phrases have which had their origin in the use of the bow and arrow. So we have come to the end of our story and prepare to say good-bye. Although we have said much, and probably too much of ourselves, we have not spoken the last word in archery. There are a few things that we have learned of the art; others know more. And though we would praise our pastime beyond measure, protesting that it is healthful, admirable and full of romance, yet we cannot claim that it accomplishes all...