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You Don't Have To Look Up the Word 'Atlatl' & You Don't Hunt

Pa. May Let Hunters Use Prehistoric Weapon

from The Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. - An ancient weapon that struck fear in the hearts of Spanish conquistadors, and that some think was used to slay wooly mammoths in Florida, may soon be added to the arsenal of Pennsylvania's hunters.

The state Game Commission is currently drafting proposed regulations to allow hunters to use the atlatl, a small wooden device used to propel a six-foot dart as fast as 80 mph. The commission could vote to legalize its use as early as January.

It's unclear which animals atlatlists may be allowed to hunt, but the proposal is being pushed by people who want to kill deer with a handmade weapon of Stone Age design. The name, usually pronounced AT-lad-ul, is derived from an Aztec word for "throwing board."

"For me, it would be a thrill to have a deer get up close enough and to throw my dart and hit the deer, bag it like my ancestors did," said Jack Rowe, 45, a veteran hunter and atlatl enthusiast.

In Alabama, one of a handful of states that currently allow the use of atlatls for hunting or fishing, few hunters use them. Even spear hunters — Alabama game law also allows spears — outnumber those using atlatls.

To use an atlatl, throwers hook arrowlike hunting darts into the end of the atlatl, which is generally a wooden piece about 2 feet long. The leverage of the atlatl allows them to throw the 5- to 8-foot darts much farther than they could throw a spear.

There is evidence that the weapons were used more than 8,000 years ago in Pennsylvania. Atlatl use goes back far as 12,000 years elsewhere in North America and far longer in Europe.


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