WAR and HUNTING

‘The strings were commonly sinew, which when dry shot arrows the fastest but could not be depended upon when wet. Some preferred horsehair, which shot slower but was reliable in all conditions, and still others preferred bear gut.

The best feathers for fletching were turkey feathers, but owl or buzzard feathers were also fine. Hawk or eagle feathers were never used as they were damaged by blood. The best shafts were grooved along their length. We used two grooves and the Lipan used four. This prevented the arrow from staunching the wound it had just cut, but it also kept the shaft from warping.

The blades of hunting arrows were fixed vertically, as the ribs of game animals are vertical to the earth. The blades of war arrows were fixed parallel to the earth, the same as human ribs. Hunting points were made without barbs and tied tightly to the shaft so they could be pulled from the animal and reused. War arrows had barbs and the blades were tied loosely, so that if the arrow was pulled, the head would remain lodged in the enemy’s body. If you were shot with a war arrow, it had to be pushed through the other side to be removed. By then all the white people knew that, though they did not know that we used different arrows for hunting.’

Philip Meyer – The Son

 

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