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The Primitive Throwing Stick
A Weapon From My Stone Age Youth
© 2013 James LaFond
I was recently discussing low-tech hunting with a weekend woodsman who is a bow hunter and is investing in an atlatl. This seems to be in anticipation of a nationwide ban on firearms, which I think is still about 12 to 16 years off. He asked me if I knew anything about a rabbit stick. The only thing I know about a rabbit stick proper is what I saw in the movie Missouri Breaks with Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando, in which the later uses a rabbit stick [a cave man’s throwing star] on a rabbit and later a human.
When I was 13 years old I moved to a rural portion of Western Pennsylvania. The half dozen boys in my age bracket who ostracized me [me having an unsettling habit of attacking those who leveled an insult at my pubescent ego complex] informed me that they did not venture into the woods they called ‘bush’ [a small wooded valley with a creek] as opposed to the civilized woods they rode motorcycles in on the south face of the hill, except as a group armed with air rifles or bats. The reason for this was ‘a pack of wild dogs’.
That is all I had to hear to send me off in the woods alone to make primitive weapons with my pocket knife and search out these mangy hounds—which I hoped were wolf size and would be worthy opponents—for a nasty primordial battle. The few dogs I ran into either wanted to be petted or took one look at me and ran for civilized territory where humans wore more than cut-off shorts and did not carry sharp sticks and knotty clubs. I did bag some small animals and ran off a few teenagers from other neighborhoods.
The weapon I used to hunt rabbits, once I found out that spears were impractical for something so small and hunkered down, was a simple throwing stick. Honestly, it was designed with large canines and humans in mind. But since none of these enemies ever materialized to fulfill my psychotic teenage battle fantasies, I contented myself with rabbits, and targets made of carpet stretched over a wooden frame. Years later in a Baltimore City park I made and cached a few after being stalked by some young muggers, who I had driven off with a combat knife. Not wanting to be arrested for the knife, I decided to seed the park with Stone Age ordinance: two throwing sticks and a short thrusting spear, and kept the knife at home after it had been used to construct its replacements.
I used pine and maple saplings, preferring a length equal to that from my elbow to the tip of my middle finger. [A cubit] For birds and squirrels I liked one a little thicker than my thumb. For the hoped-for canine and human enemies I chose shafts almost as thick as my wrist, making it a good slash and thrust club too. The lighter model could brain birds and squirrels. The heavier one could penetrate matt carpeting from three paces with penetration ranging from 1-6 inches and having as much to do with the rotation as the range, making it really erratic. The range was similar to a tomahawk, but you could get twice the hits on targets that were moving or not paced off. The weight is centered since both tips were sharpened for a three-inch taper.
I injured one rabbit with a light model, and my dog finished the job. I broke another rabbit’s back with the heavier stick. Since I was not allowed to hunt like the locals and was feeling bad about my dog taking all the heat for the rabbit killing, I quit hunting and murdered targets instead. I would like to say I can report on this simple weapon’s efficacy against hood rats, but those punks stopped trailing me from the bus line after I pulled that 10 inch gravity blade on them.
The heavier version is essentially a two-pointed club. If Charles ever gets my time machine fixed I’ll take it back and try it on some unsuspecting hominid and let you know how it goes…
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Julius     Apr 8, 2019

I really think you need to step back and think about anomals ....as in they can feel and react to most human feelings. Move forward into enlightenment you stupid neanderthal idiot. That alone will make you a better pwrson.
James     Apr 9, 2019

I love this comment. Thanks.
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