4 Corners Archery, archery, arrow, atlatl, bow, Brian Wagner, challenge, dart, Dawn Wagner, deer, firearms, harvest, Kosh Trading Post, Missouri, Missouri Arlatl Association, Ozarks, season, small game, spear, throw
I had been trying to decide between two different subjects that I wanted to cover, when I received an E-mail from another member of The Missouri Atlatl Association that I felt needed to be covered as it has to be the ultimate hunting challenge for any modern hunter.
Before I cover the contents of this E-mail let me give you some background (mine) to allow you some insight as to why I appreciate this story so much. I started hunting at a very early age, with archery back to the age of 5 when my dad carved my first bow from a cedar limb, arrows from horse weed tipped with a nail he had flattened, fletched with wing feathers from a chicken. I sat days in a blackberry patch hunting anything that was unlucky enough to enter that patch.
Of course as time went on, like for most other hunters the firearm was to play its role in my hunting life, but I always loved archery and the primitive styles of hunting. I killed my first rabbit with a rock as did several squirrels fall to the arrow over the years to follow. I started using the bow in pursuit of deer at about 12 or 13 (as soon as I could pull a 40-pound Ben Pearson fiberglass bow) and hunted several years before getting my first deer with “stick and string”. Even though that has been many years ago I will never forget that first deer and how I felt that I had earned that one far more than any other deer I had ever harvested, but as I watched that deer expire in front of my eyes another deer stood right below me in my stand and the thoughts went through my mind after all these years of working so hard for that first archery harvest I could harvest this one with a spear. Even though that first one was only a button buck I was much prouder of him than I was the 9 point that I had taken when I was in the sixth grade with a rifle; this one was earned.
Many years later while attending a monthly flint knapping in Pineville, Mo., I met a man named Chris that introduced me to a hunting tool from the stone age. He had studied, built, practiced with and even written books about this tool called an atlatl which is basically a spear (because of it’s small diameter it is called a dart), which is thrown by a handle (the atlatl) that gives it great speed and with enough practice accuracy. The first time that I got the chance to throw one was at Mo Jam (a self-bow jamboree held in Marshall, Mo., in July every year) where we both attending in 2007. I immediately fell in love with it and decided that I would be a pursuit of this skill. I only got to talk to Chris one more time before he suffered a sudden fatal heart attack at the age of 48.
After that I drifted away from the atlatl for a couple years until after I had moved from northwest Arkansas back to the Ozarks. One day in 2011, for whatever reason I Googled atlatl and found that there was a 3D archery throw at Sedgewickville, Mo., sponsored by 4 Corners Archery. My wife and I traveled there and met the people that owned 4 Corners. They spent the time to help me get started, and I purchased an atlatl from them. After I practiced for some time, I wanted to see if I could improve on that particular model dart to make it friendlier to changing the target point to a broad head for hunting, and that is where we got into the manufacture of atlatls.
All this time I have never gave up on my goal of taking a deer with an atlatl.
Here is where our story comes in to play. Missouri made hunting with an atlatl for small game legal, at which time another friend of Chris’ (a gentleman named Ray) killed a gray squirrel on the first day of the first season. Then Missouri tested the idea of allowing deer to be hunted with atlatl by allowing their use during the modern gun deer season only. To the best of my memory the first year there were no deer harvested, but the second year (I believe 2011) there were two harvested.
The next year I had practiced until I could put the dart in the kill zone of my 3D target 19 out of 20 at a range to 12 yards and 9 out of 10 at 15 yards. I felt I was ready, and so on the second hunt I had a 12 yard throw at a small buck only to catch the atlatl on a limb half way through the throw with the dart hitting only 7 foot in front of my stand. I had a second dart so I sat still for maybe another chance. The deer stayed in the field until a doe entered the field, and he started chasing her around the field. He brought her to only 15 yards where she stopped. 9 out of 10 isn’t bad odds, so had to try. Such a beautiful throw or least would have been if it had been 6 inches higher as it went about 2 inches below the ribcage. What happened next? Well, the two of them came to the dart 7 foot in front of me and smelled it (remember that I only took 2 darts). I got home read my E-mail and found out from a fellow MAA member that an east central Missouri atlatl hunter, Brian Wagner, had taken his first deer with his atlatl at between 11 and 15 yards using an old barn as a blind. I was so happy for this hunter because I know the practice and commitment required to accomplish this.
The 2013 season went down the tubes for me as far as atlatl goes due to a broken index finger on my throwing hand, and I didn’t hear of any atlatl harvest last year. This year I have been throwing again, but since the finger grew back crooked not quite as accurately yet, so haven’t taken my atlatl yet this year. However, I got another E-mail letting the atlatl world know that there has been another atlatl harvest this year. What makes this one even more special is the fact that the same hunter that made that Oct. 11, 2012, harvest, Bran Wagner, is the same hunter that succeeded again on a button buck on Oct 2 of this year.
If you want the ultimate challenge in hunting, the atlatl is it. If that rifle or your compound bow seems to be getting easy, the atlatl may be in your future. I don’t care if it is a doe or a button buck or rabbit or squirrel, it is one of the greatest trophies and accomplishments you can ever achieve when your tackle is an atlatl. From what I understand this particular hunter may be in for some competition as his wife, Dawn Wagner, already has taken a rabbit with her atlatl (wonder which is harder to hit).
When you are ready for the challenge come by Kosh Trading Post and try an atlatl out, or if you are closer to Sedgewickville, get in contact with 4 Corners Archery as I feel they too would be happy to give you an opportunity (they did me) to throw one. As far as I know we are the only 2 businesses in MO. that stock atlatls.
You can contact us at Kosh Trading Post at 417-280-6304, 206 Bingham, in Koshkonong, email@example.com, koshtradingpost.angelfire.com, or follow us on Facebook.