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What Is an Atlatl? How Is It Used? October 28, 2010

Posted by Wapello Warbler in History, Louisa County.
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At first glance, the picture above may look like a simple stick, but it is actually an atlatl (pronounced AT-l-at-l).

An atlatl is a Native American spear chucker than can add distance and velocity to a spear without sacrificing accuracy. Back in the days when David was using a sling to wing a softball-sized stone at Goliath, the folks living in southeastern Iowa were using these for hunting and possibly warfare.

To use one, you place the butt of your spear on the tongue of the atlatl (that’s the short little stub of branch). You grab the shaft of the atlatl and lay your index finger over the shaft of the spear. if you have a fancy atlatl like the one above, you can rest the spear in the little Y shaped twig at the other end, otherwise rest the spear on your knuckles. The next picture shows how it’s done.

Holding and atlatl

You throw the spear as you would without the atlatl except that, as your arm comes over your shoulder, you take your finger off the spear and snap your wrist. Finish with your hand pointing at the target.

If you want to add a little more pop to the atlatl split the end of the atlatl and place a leather thong across as shown below.

Atlatl with thong

My thanks to Kathy Dice, a naturalist with Louisa County’s Conservation Board, for teaching a dozen of us how to make and use spears and atlatls last Sunday. You can find out about upcoming LCCB events by visiting Naturally Louisa and subscribing to their newsletter.


Keeping Up with the Fun October 22, 2010

Posted by Wapello Warbler in Events, Louisa County.
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October and November are outdoor months here in Iowa. Harvest is progressing rapidly. Football, marching band contests, and cross country have the teens outside. In addition, the County Conservation Board and the Port Louisa Refuge have come up with some unique outdoor programs.

Last weekend, I was out at Virginia Grove Park for the annual Halloween Hike.

This weekend I’ll be working my way through a corn maze, attending a workshop on using digital cameras for nature photography and learning to make and use an atlatl (spear chucker).

In a few weeks the Port Louisa Refuge will be open for photographers and birders hoping to get a good look at the ducks and other birds that stop there to rest on their way south.

You can share in the fun by following along in my blog or, if you live nearby, you can get advance notice of similar activities from the Naturally Louisa web site.

While you’re there, browse around. You’ll find all kinds of information that will help you plan a great weekend here in Louisa County.

P.S. Congratulations to the football team for advancing to the play offs, to the cross-country team for taking districts and moving on to state, and to the band for taking first place in the Ft. Madison and Mt. Pleasant competitions and earning a 1 rating at the state marching band competition.

Cotter: A Singular Town October 11, 2010

Posted by Wapello Warbler in Louisa County.
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Cotter Town Hall

Normally one has to choose between living in town and keeping a horse in the back yard. However, there are very small towns where that isn’t true. Cotter is one of them.


Fall Migration Has Begun September 13, 2010

Posted by Wapello Warbler in Birds, Louisa County.
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Gull Over Odessa

Recently, I saw a flock of geese silouetted near the moon at twilight. My thought that the fall migration had begun was confirmed when I visited Lake Odessa’s labyrinth the other day. The Great Egrets are (more…)

Thoroughwort, Boneset, and Joe Pye Weed September 6, 2010

Posted by Wapello Warbler in Edible Plants, History, Louisa County, Wild Flowers.
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The flower in the picture above is Tall Thoroughwart. I found it growing in the wetlands north of town. It’s a member of the same genus as its more famous cousins, Boneset and Joe Pye Weed. Boneset has very similar flowers but (more…)

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