Photo (homepage spear) courtesy of mudeth.
Photo (left): Luke Boenker, courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation.
After years of deer hunting while using the latest and most modern bows, rifles and accessories, many of today’s sportsmen often feel a natural inclination to head afield with something more traditional in nature, like a flintlock rifle or longbow.
But how about a hunting method dating back to 11,000 B.C.—literally, to the stone ages?
On the opening day of the 2011 Missouri firearms deer season, a St. Louis-area man became the first Show Me State hunter to successfully use an atlatl (pronounced ät-lät’l) to harvest a deer.
The Missouri Department of Conservation approved the atlatl—an ancient device used to hurl a dart-like projectile—for hunting small game in 2007, expanding its legal use for deer hunting in 2010. The device, which predates the bow and arrow, is used to throw a 4- to 7-foot spear at velocities approaching 100 mph.
On November 12, 2011, 54-year-old Luke Boenker of Maryland Heights, Missouri, used his self-constructed osage-orange wood atlatl to launch a 7-foot broadhead-tipped spear toward a white-tailed buck at a distance of 15 yards from his elevated treestand. After tracking the deer and finding it expired some 150 yards away, Boenker became part of Missouri hunting history as the first to harvest a deer in the state using the ancient hunting method.
On the following day, Scott Rorebeck of Trenton became the second successful atlatl deer hunter in Missouri history.
A longtime deer hunter, Boenker was a relative newcomer to the atlatl, having taken it up only 3 months before harvesting his deer. He was introduced to its use by his friend and president of the Missouri Atlatl Association (MAA), Ron Mertz. Boenker is also an MAA member.
Along with Missouri, Alabama and Pennsylvania allow atlatls for use in deer seasons. A measure that would have legalized the device for deer hunting in the 2011 Montana legislature was unsuccessful, with Gov. Brian Schweitzer calling it “kooky,” and pledging to veto the bill should it reach his desk.
Would you hunt deer with a spear if it were legal in your state? Comment below.