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The Bow as a Hunter's Weapon
Part 3 of 5

ARROWS for shooting large fish are often made with a detachable head, the head being, of course, barbed and made with a socket so that the shaft can slip out of it after it has entered the fish, or else both head and shaft have a socket, a small intermediate piece of wood or bone entering both; this would break or pull out leaving the head inside. Wound about the shaft and attached to it is a cord, the other end of which is attached to the head. When the head pulls off the struggles of the fish loosen and unwind the cord, and as the shaft of the arrow acts as a float the Indian simply has to get hold of this float and pull his fish in. In many cases a plain arrow will suffice or an arrow with a head made with three barbs, arranged in the form of a tripod or a trident, but for certain classes of fishing only the detachable head scheme, which has various modifications and varieties, will do.

Ready to pull the bow, quiver hung on right side
Ready to pull the bow,
quiver hung on right side
Correct way to pull the bow
Correct way to pull the bow

Arrows warp pretty badly on occasion. The writer is reminded of a story he read as a boy in which a Mexican Indian shot at a turkey and missed it and then exclaimed, "I missed because I forgot to straighten my arrows after they had been wet!" Whoever wrote that corking good story, "Juan and Juanita" knew something about archery for certain it is that arrows sometimes need straightening. For this purpose some Indians used a flat piece of wood with a hole through it somewhat larger than the arrow shaft. The shaft was poked through the hole and pressure applied to it as necessary. Small grooves were sometimes cut along the sides of a shaft which may have had a tendency to prevent its warping, certain it is that they could have had very little effect in letting blood out, and Indians say they were not for that purpose.

War arrows, being intended naturally to injure the enemy as much as possible were frequently made with barbed heads which would pull off easily and remain in the wound, or the shaft was weakened near the head so that it would tend to break there, which accomplished the same result. Game arrows were generally intended to be extracted from the slain game and used again and were designed with this end in view; but war arrows had a different purpose. The poisoning of arrows was a natural step in an attempt to make them more deadly and it was quite a common custom. Such arrow poisons varied from simple copper points intentionally corroded, to complicated and deadly mixtures, compounded of snake venom and vegetable and other poisons, the exact details of which the writer will not attempt to discuss in a general article. One of the most noted of these poisons is that known as Wourali, Curari, or Oorara and is made and used to-day by our own Central and South American Indians. The writer has talked with men who have seen these poisoned arrows used in actual game killing, and they describe the action of the poison as being very rapid, though it is certain that the speed of its effect is greatly exaggerated in the popular mind. It has to be carried by the blood, and that takes time. This type of poison does not render inedible the meat of animals killed with it. Whether it could ever be used to advantage in game shooting with a rifle is questionable, but think of the possibility of hitting a deer almost anywhere with a .22 short poisoned with Wourali and have it drop within a hundred yards! !

Let us, however, consider the bow as a weapon for the modern hunter.