The downscaling of the hunter, as Hari Heath puts it, is a movement that’s reviving the skills and essence of a sport that’s been overwhelmed by technology.
Heath, who makes authentic primitive archery equipment in Grangeville, Idaho, is organizing a primitive archery rendezvous in Grangeville June 3-10.
The event will be an informal gathering of folks who use primitive skills to make what were once the basics for survival, including baskets and shelters.
“I do commercial workshops on bowmaking, but the rendezvous will be informal,” Heath said. “People can come and learn from others. You could bring your own wood or buy some from me and we’ll teach you how to make your own bow.”
Another expert will teach shelter building. “We’d like to build an earth shelter,” Heath said. “This is the perfect opportunity. It’s easier to do with a tribe.”
An archery shoot with unusual rules will conclude the rendezvous on June 10. Contestants will put a prize on a blanket before the shoot. Afterward, each contestant, regardless of skill, will get to choose a prize for participating.
The unusual part, however, is the scoring. Shooters will walk a course equipped with 3-D animal targets.
“Shooters will earn five points for a killing shot,” Heath said. “They will be deducted five points for a wounding shot. But they can earn one point by choosing not to shoot. What we’re doing is rewarding ethical judgment of a hunter who determines that a shot is beyond his ability.”
There will be no power or sewer facilities at the rendezvous, which will be held across from Ski Haven ski area.
“You can camp anyway you want,” Heath said. “If someone wants to bring an RV, that’s OK.”
Experts will be tanning hides and teaching primitive fire making.
Heath prefers to build his bows with hardwoods. In some cases he uses what was once the choice of the region’s natives, yew or syringa.
He carefully cuts and trues his arrows, then fits them with stone tips and feathers from birds.
Bow strings are made of Irish linen thread or sinew from the tendons of elk and deer.
“The key is making it all work well together so it’s effective,” he said.
“When you hunt with something you make with your own hands, it brings you into the essence of what hunting all about. The advance of technology has made killing mechanisms very efficient. Hunting with primitive weapons requires considerably more hunting skill. It heightens the experience.”
For details on the rendezvous, call Heath, (208) 245-5124.