Monday, December 31, 2012

Missing the Forest for the Trees

   So can environment force changes in point morphology? Lets define our terms.  In this case environment includes stony ground and my main target quarry was rabbit.  I love eating wild rabbit.  in hindsight, what factors should I have taken into consideration? Clayey sand with gravels, roots, thick briar patches...Brere rabbit was born in the briar patch after all.  Archaeologists have focused on arguments of style versus function, as illustrated in arguments between Binford and Bordes...but this is a little different.  After thinking through things, my preconceived notions of success were founded in the symmetry and balance that I had become to trust in the arrows that I had created, not in my tested ability as a bow hunter.  I had spent too much time thinking about the ideal arrow point given the papers read, the point types excavated, the daydreams fostered and the point types shaped, but not the moment of impact.  I had thrown a random lure into the water rather than asking "what are they biting on ?".  
The whole situation left me laughing by myself in the woods as I shot a beautiful obsidian point, missing a rabbit and vaporizing the whole thing against a hidden cobble.  Maybe I'm late in the recognition that in some cases beauty has zero function.  Nevertheless, lesson learned.  I had become enveloped in the task of tool creation rather than tool function, subconsciously hoping that time spent in tool production would create a favorable outcome.  We all do that to an extent, nicer cars equal heightened acceptance, bigger houses equal better lives...better gear equals a better vacation?  

      The snap of a point underground is not a sound one forgets readily.  The bowstring releases, the arrow files...the sound of stone in sand, and then, just...a quick grinding sound that instantly takes away an afternoon's worth of work.  The rabbit scurries away and the implement of death becomes something of a joke, a crooked twig in the sand.  All the potential energy that flexed the arrow through flight has spiraled its way onto a terrific failure, a broken point, a crooked shaft, missed food.

So did a new environment create a change in point morphology?  You bet it did.  But not just in point shape, but in hafting approach and arrow length as well.  The stony, root-thick ground prompted a shift to shorter, sturdier points with barbs towards the back, deeper notches and sturdier wrapping.  I made triangular points with concave bases such that there was no base to snap.  I applied a healthy dose of pine pitch glue while letting the concavity of the hollowed out triangle let barbs stick out.  After this I had no more point snaps in the thick roots and brambles.  I secured the point with deer sinew for extra measure. This was my approach to hunting East TX rabbits.  The method offered an arrow that could be used over and over again without fear of breakage, the little buggers are indestructible!

      I'll be using small, thick side notch points and V-shaped points for hunting small game from now on, it works for me.  My technological approach for hunting small game in East TX went from long points (see Straiten up and fly right) towards shorter, sturdier points with more pitch and deeper notches.  So yes, changing environments and new species can prompt changes in point morphology.  This case is an example of environmental or "individual learning".  Successful approaches such as these were communicated rapidly between peers though horizontal transmission and were also transmitted vertically via traditional parent offspring teaching.

While I didn't end up with any rabbits in the freezer, I did come away with a few valuable lessons from the trip.  Thanks for coming along and cheers.

Coming up next!!!

Nordic wood stoves...YUP! 

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