Estimated 135,000,000 Deer Killed In Pennsylvania With Atlatls, While Modern Hunting Implements Kill Only 23 Million

There is a rock shelter in southwestern Pennsylvania called Meadowcroft. There is evidence there of continuous habitation for at least 15,000 years. Let’s conservatively estimate the average amount of hunter/gatherers living in Pennsylvania at say 1000 people. If these people averaged 10 deer killed per person per year that would mean 135 million deer killed over the last 14, 500 years with atlatls.

The bow came into existence in PA about 1200 years ago. I’m going to estimate Native Americans may have killed 5 million deer during the next seven hundred years with bows and arrows. Five hundred years ago the first Europeans laid their eyes on what would become Pennsylvania but when William Penn got here in the late 1600s his people started to hunt and kill deer regularly. In 1721 the first game laws were promulgated. Deer became rare in PA by 1900 and hunting them trailed off until 1915 when deer started coming back into PA. I’m going to estimate that during that time another five million deer were taken.

It took a half century to harvest the first million deer using modern weapons.

Then from 1950 to 1970 another million and a half deer were killed. From 1970 to 1990 another 4 million deer were killed. Since 1990 another six and a half million deer were killed. A grand total of 23 million deer have been taken with bows and arrows and guns. By these extremely conservative figures, the atlatl is only ahead by 110 million deer kills in the state of Pennsylvania.

I got these figures from the Pennsylvania Game Commission and estimates of prehistoric habitation in Pennsylvania from a talk by Dr Adivasio at the Meadowcroft Rock shelter in 2003. So tell me now that the atlatl is not lethal enough to kill a deer.

Bob Berg

5 thoughts on “Estimated 135,000,000 Deer Killed In Pennsylvania With Atlatls, While Modern Hunting Implements Kill Only 23 Million”

  1. would it be possible to translate your website into spanish because i have difficulties of speaking to english, and as there are not many pictures on your website i would like to read more of what you are writting.

  2. The 135,000,000 figure could be wildly off. A friend of mine who knows at lot about American prehistory from youthful reading say that the bow and arrow came into use in North American about 12,000 years ago.

    The figure of ten deer per resident per year seems a little inflated as well. Nor do we know how many residents there were.

    Even if the numbers are off, the point is still valid however. Primitive weapons are effective.

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