Thursday, April 3, 2008

Flintknapping


Flakes of stone lay at the hunters feet, with an antler tip he has been working this stone for the last few hours. Expertly he sculpts the stone into a deadly sharp blade which he will fasten to his arrows making them into devastating projectiles.


Two days later the ancient hunter stalks along a sandstone laden ridge following the tracks of a deer. Ten feet below him he spots his prey bedded under a juniper bush, he draws his sheep horn bow and says a silent prayer to the deer. Asking the majestic buck to give it's life so that he and his family may survive. His prayers are answered as the arrow slices through the air and buries deep in the buck's side, moments later he is kneeling by the deer and begins the arduous task of butchering the downed buck. Somehow the stone point has been lost from the end of the shaft, probably when the deer made his last run across the landscape before expiring.


The spring sunshine feels good across my back as I walk along a sandstone ridge, The walk is long to my favorite fishing hole but the fish are usually hungry. I enjoy the chance to stretch my legs on this beautiful day, after a long cold winter every scent and sound seems magnified. I climb down a sandstone outcrop as I make my way towards the river, suddenly there in the sand I see a wonderfully crafted stone point. I look toward the sky and offer up a prayer of thanks for my good fortune and take the point in my hands. The stone is smooth from years of wear and the flakes removed by the ancient craftsman in the process of making the point are clearly defined on the surface of the projectile. I immediately try and perceive what must have happened for this point to end up in this place. Dozens of scenarios play out in my head as I resume my walk toward the river.My imagination now going full throttle.



For thousands of years the arrows and spears of the indigenous people of the Americas were tipped with stone. These stones were worked by the skilled hands of a people who not only used the weapons for hunting but often their very lives depended on the effectiveness of the weapons. Some arrowheads found today are crudely made points, others are so intricately knapped that even with modern tools and techniques we in the modern world who take up the art of flintknapping soon realize the skill level of the ancient knappers. I am a novice at the ancient techniques of building arrowheads, but have been fortunate to meet a true master of the stone breaking kind. My good friend and mentor Wolf Watcher, has perfected the art of flintknapping and heat treating various stones for knapping. To witness him craft a point from a piece of stone, glass or obsidian is a treat to watch. The finished points are not only functional but practical for hunting purposes. For those of you who have never had the opportunity to learn the art of breaking stone, you should at least try it once in your lifetime. For those like me who now come home with pieces of glass and stone in my pockets in the hopes of crafting something resembling an arrowhead you already know what I am talking about. I will continue to work on my ability as a knapper in the hopes of one day being able to teach someone the craft, and pass on the ancient artform. Hawk a/ho

4 comments:

fishing guy said...

Hawk: Beautifully done and phrased, I really enjoy your sight.

sky said...

Namaste' Mike these pics are seriously wicked wild! great tale. You two should write a book together.

metta
sky

Mike "Hawk" Huston said...

Sky, thanks for your comments. I am currently wirking on two books, one telling the tales of twenty plus years of hunting the high lands,adventures and experiences I felt compelled to share with the world. The other book is a fictional novel, the characters are taken from peolpe I have met and places I have been grace the pages of the still unfinished work... I love your site, the deep respect you show for the "True Dogs" is apparent through your writings.. keep em coming.. Your brother of the wilderness Hawk a/ho

Stacey Huston said...

Beautifully written Mike, Just no knapping in the house.. LOL..