Brian Goodsell, Owner of Fallow Hollow Deer Farm was slightly amused by the nest of debris that I was accumulating for my blind. I had tried several times before to ambush a fallow deer to no avail. They tended to be a lot more aware of their surroundings than I thought at first . I finally hit upon the idea of making a blind large enough to hold me, my atlatl, and dart in the loaded position. I had discovered that any movement of the dart gave my position away. In fact if these fallow deer were to see me blink, they would be gone when my eyes were open again. The only way around this problem was to become totally invisible. I had checked the hardware store for invisible spray but they were fresh out. So it left me with no alternative other than dragging in as much forest litter as it would take to bury Brian’s tractor. I left a few look out points in my giant nest, taking advantage of natural shooting lanes. Brian asked me if I thought I was ready and I said “yea, to lay eggs”. We were using atlatls and stone pointed darts, all of which, I had made myself. I thought to myself; with this primitive gear I really would be laying an egg if don’t eventually get a deer with them. I have killed wild boar with atlatls before but they are a much slower moving creature than these fallow deer. “Lets do it ” Said Brian as he walked off in the direction he had last seen deer. His plan was to slowly drive deer in my direction, which was deep in the woods. He could easily locate deer out in the fields where they are visible from over a quarter mile away. Its been my experience that if you can see them they can surely see you. If you move in their direction they seem to melt away into the woods long before you get there, which would work nicely into our plan today. Earlier, Jim Shuler and his daughter Carrie had tried to ambush deer but they had little success, not because they didn’t see any but because when they did see them, hunter and hunted were looking into each other’s big brown eyes. Jim is a wild life management biologist and I invited him to hunt with us to get his opinion on this kind of hunting. This is the first time this kind of hunting has become readily available, thanks to the Goodsells who have looked at Atlatl hunting as one more way to market their product, the fallow deer which they raise on their farm. One fear I had at first was that hunting in an enclosed area would be too easy, but the hunting area is so large and the deer so skittish that that fear proved to be without substance, especially since we plan to hunt mainly with atlatls. Jim had secreted himself a few hundred feet away from me on one side and Carrie hid in some thick pines on the other side about the same distance away. I heard deer coming but when I strained to see them they were scampering along the edge of the woods about two hundred feet away. I hoped that Jim would get a shot. Meanwhile, Carrie stood quietly While a couple of does crept up the creek between us. Three came within about 15 yards from me and started drinking from the creek. The deer closest to me was obscured by some brush so I chose to shoot at the one in the middle, besides she was the largest of the three. There was a branch between me and the doe but with an atlatl you can arch over obstructions. I drew an imaginary line in the air with my eyes just as the deer presented a nice quartering away shot. I let the dart fly with just the right amount of force to clear the top of the branch. As the dart reached its apex, the doe turned toward me. She had completely flipped around when the dart struck. The seven foot ash shaft sank deeply into her flesh and protruded out the other side. She dashed by me with the dart obviously transfixing her vitals. As she went past a large oak she suddenly turned into it to break the dart off as she past it by. The 9/16 th inch hardwood shaft snapped like a toothpick as she bounded toward where Carrie stood. I listened intently as the deer crashed through the underbrush. Then silence. I knew it was all over but not exactly where. I stayed where I was until Brian came walking slowly toward me. I gave him the thumbs up signal. We followed the blood trail to the oak tree, then off into the pines, and across the creek collecting Carrie as we went. Somewhere along the way Jim also appeared and we fanned out in the direction of the blood trail. It was only moments later and Brian yelled “Here she is.” I was glad to prove to myself that I could harvest a fallow deer with “sticks and stones, and horns and bones” I guess I knew it all along but I didn’t realize how really challenging it would be. You see, this was the fifth time I tried to accomplish this task, with no success until now. Both Jim and Carrie said that they enjoyed the hunt. I think we all agreed that it was a little trickier than anticipated. What we liked best was the fast action of the hunt, with plenty of chances to see deer. The challenge was to stay absolutely still until you got your shot. Jim did indeed get a few shots but he unfortunately missed. Jim’s hunting skills far exceed mine but I had more luck with the atlatl that day.
We are now manufacturing barrel tapered darts, as well as our new round darts. Extensive testing of the new darts has proven them to be excellent. (They look good too!)
Call 1-800-836-4520 or 607-659 5967 and ask to be put on the mailing list for a FREE Thunderbird Atlatl newsletter/catalog. You can also sign up for the mailing list by emailing your name and address to this address.
We are now planning our 2001 calendar of atlatl and flintknapping events, which we will publish here on this web site early in January. I encourage anyone having an event to let me know about it. The atlatl events will also be listed with the World Atlatl Association web page.
Pre-printed ISAC targets are available in our catalog at $26.95 including postage. They will save you time and are very accurate. They are printed black on a white background, so they are easy to see.
Because of postal regulations we have to change our mailing policy. The 4″ pvc tube and end caps cost $7.00 and the postage costs $13 or more depending on the weight of the package and where it is going. We were unaware of the charge for longer packages (and so was the local Post Office) so anyone who received shipments of atlatls prior to November got a good deal on postage. We are sorry for the extra cost, but we have no choice in this matter.
Another record was broken at the Icicle Atlatl Contest in Nichols, New York on November 4th, 2000. Missy Dildine shot an 81x, which may be the best woman’s score yet, unless someone tops it before the season ends. Two years ago Gary Fogelman shot the men’s highest score at the Icicle. Next year’s Icicle will be held on November 3rd and 4th, 2001. I hope you can make it to see some more records broken.Next year’s event has been lengthened to two days by request of the sponsor (Tioga Park). We will also have a primitive clothing fashion show.
JJ (a.k.a. John Jeffers) has completed the most intricately designed atlatl ever seen by modern man! JJ spent the last 4 months inlaying an atlatl with ivory, gold, platinum, iron meteorite, copper, bone, mammoth ivory, buffalo horn, dinosaur bone, precious stones and other interesting and colorful materials. The shaft was made from white oak that was carbon dated to 1500 years before present. Counting the 200+ years it grew this wood was alive during the time of the Roman empire. I hope to have a series of photographs up on my web site soon.
We now have a quicker response time for most items that you order from us. We moved the shop to a new location which is larger and more convenient. We also have some new equipment that has speeded things up. And finaly it is up and running. Our apolligies to those of you who suffered long waits for your orders in the past.
Soon (January 2001) we will have the ability to make tapered darts which are superior to the straight ones because they are balanced with the weight forward and the flex in the rear for a more stable shot. These will be the highest quality wooden darts that you can get, perhaps even rivaling cane.
Aztec Atlatl Battle is a field game that pits two teams consisting of eight atlatlists against each other. Each team will have one person designated “Chief” and one person designated “Shaman”, all other players are designated “warriors”.
The 12 yard by 80 yard playing field represents a section of causeway that once linked the Aztec city of Tenochchitlan with the mainland. Each atlatlist must have an atlatl and three darts. In addition each contestant must be represented by a target made from ethelfoam or similar material that is 24″ square and two inches thick. Radiating concentrically from the center, the targets must have a 6″ inner circle of blue, around that is a twelve inch circle of red , and outside that is the final ring of 20 ” in yellow. The targets are held off the ground by hardwood tripods three feet high. The tripods should be of a design to be able to be easily moved with “feet” that allow them to be planted sturdily into the ground yet hold the target center 3 feet from the ground.
The field of play is cordoned off with rope or tape in a rectangle 12 yards by 80 yards inside a safety zone 50 yards by 120 yards. The playing field is divided into eight 10 yard sections called zones.
The play occurs in rounds. In each round each person shoots the amount of darts allotted to him or her from directly behind his or her respective target.
Each person starts with 3 darts. Regardless of the order of shooting everyone gets to shoot all of his allotted darts for that round. For safety’s sake only one shooter is allowed on the field at a time. The order of shooting is of no importance and may be determined by the Judge. Everyone must be ready to take his or her turn as it comes to keep the game moving.
After everyone has shot, the round is over and the “dead” are removed from the field. The wounded give up one or two of their darts.
- Those hit in the yellow ring give up one dart and those hit in the red must give up two darts. Anyone hit in the blue is considered dead.
- The Shaman reside in their respective end zones. Shaman are not allowed to move to any other zone but they may move to any location in the end zone that they desire.
- Chiefs are allowed to move to any zone except their opponents end zone, at the end of a round. No one may move beyond or into a zone occupied by a “live” opponent. In other words a person may not move past the “war front”. However after a round where all opposing soldiers are killed in a particular zone the zone may be occupied by any one who is in position, when the round is over.
- Warriors may be in any zone except the end zones, however they must move only one zone at a time between rounds.
At the beginning of the game the Chief and Shaman start in the end zone and two warriors start in each of the other zones at their respective ends of the field, so two contestants will occupy each of the zones at first. The Shaman may allow the Chief to shoot his three darts if he so desires, as long as the chief is alive. The Chief may shoot the Shaman’s darts from behind his own target regardless of his location on the field.
It is the duty of the Chief to direct his team, be he dead or alive.
At the beginning of the game the chief determines the placement of his team members targets. A very important part of the game is the strategy and game plan. Each team should be constantly trying to devise a plan to foil their opponent.
It is recommended that each team provide their own tent on opposite sides of the field for shade from the sun. It will also make it safer than to have people roaming around if people stay in the general area of their tent.
A field judge shall be chosen who is familiar with the rules of the game and general safety rules of the sport. All decisions of the Judge are final as to scoring. In addition to this the Judge has the right to dismiss anyone violating safety rules from the field. The Judge may appoint a Safety Assistant to watch the field for safety problems. Both the Judge and his Assistant shall have a whistle, which when blown shall stop all shooting. After the safety issue has been resolved, the Judge may resume play with a verbal signal.
This is a preliminary draft of the rules of this game. The rules may need to be changed as necessary to assure the safety first of all and the fairness of play.
This game is authored by Robert S. Berg of Thunderbird Atlatl, Copyright 2000.
I have added the instructions for a field atlatl game that I came up with called ‘Aztec Atlatl Battle’. Although it is copyrighted, I encourage everyone to make copies of it and play the game. Because it is a new game, I am still looking for improvements. If you have any ideas on how to increase the safety, ease of play, fun or fairness of the game, please contact me! I would also enjoy reading reports of any games played, if you feel like telling me. Enjoy exploring our website!