RALEIGH, Miss. — In a small workshop behind his rural Smith County home, Ken Austin sat hunched over in a chair, slowly working on a slab of stone and talking about how he got there.
Austin said it all started about 14 years ago.
“They cut timber down on my place and me and my brother was going to cut firewood,” said Austin.
Then, on a patch of ground scraped clean by logs and machinery, Austin spotted a Native American arrowhead.
Finding more points and chert flakes, Austin said he became intrigued by how they were made.
“I got interested and started trying to make a point from some of the big flakes and got to where I could make a point from them,” said Austin.
Now, surrounded by buckets bulging with deer antlers for handles, stacks of stone for points and knives and a pile of stone flakes on the floor, Austin said that was the beginning of a “hobby gone bad.”
While methodically chipping away on a small stone, Austin said Native Americans couldn’t dedicate the amount of time to a point that modern flint knappers can.
Austin said Native Americans were probably too busy chasing game or being chased by hostiles.
Completing the final sharpening process, Austin held up a work of art with a razor-sharp edge.
A work of art that downs deer, too.
John Rush of Smith County said he has killed dozens of deer over the years with a compound, but after taking one scoring 152 and 4/8 inches, archery began to lose its luster.
“I felt like I’d done it all and seen it all at that point and I just wanted a new challenge,” said Rush.
This quest for a new challenge eventually led to the equipment Rush now hunts with — a longbow, river cane shafts and Austin’s stone points.
Rush collects and prepares the native river cane shafts himself and his fletchings are from turkeys he harvests.
Austin’s points that Rush uses are all made to weigh exactly 145 grains.
“When I started with traditional, it was like starting all over again,” said Rush. “I shot a doe and got the shakes and everything!
“The first deer I killed, the arrow went through the rib cage and out the other side,” said Rush.
“He went about 20 yards and folded up.”
Rush said he was surprised at how quickly a person can go from amateur to proficient with primitive equipment.
In fact, he said the biggest challenge for him was learning to maneuver a 62-inch bow in a treestand.
Rush realizes the handicap he has placed on himself and that he may have passed on deer he could have otherwise taken, but he seems quite happy with his primitive harvests.
“They weren’t the largest deer I’ve ever killed,” said Rush, “but they are the most prized.”
“The first deer I killed, the arrow went through the rib cage and out the other side. He went about 20 yards and folded up.”
Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com