Ancient weapons produced in Montana man's workshop
HARRISBURG, Pa. - 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 6-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.
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Another really cool site about atlatls is here.