The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will host a free Atlatl Workshop Friday, June 7, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Maintz Wildlife Preserve in Cape Girardeau County. MDC Outdoor and Education Supervisor AJ Hendershott said people enjoy throwing atlatls for recreation, but there’s a growing interest in hunting with atlatls during the alternative methods deer season. An atlatl is a spear launcher used for hunting in prehistoric times.
Atlatls were approved for hunting small game in Missouri in 2007 and for deer hunting in 2010. In 2011, two Missouri hunters harvested deer with darts and atlatls. In 2017, Dawn Wagner of Truxton became the first woman in modern U.S. history to take a deer with an atlatl.
“People are gravitating towards this sport because, although it’s ancient, it’s new to most modern people,” Hendershott said. “You can craft this tool on your own, it increases the strength of a throw, and is something anyone can learn to use no matter their size or strength, kind of like archery.”
Atlatls are mostly carved from wood. An atlatl has a handle on one end and socket on the other end that holds a spear. It provides leverage that enables a faster, harder throw of a dart, that can be around 7 feet long.
Hendershott said the June 7 program will feature the basics of atlatls, covering its history, and varying designs of atlatls with resources on how to purchase or make your own handmade atlatl. There will be ample time at the workshop to practice using the atlatls, so attendees can decide if this is a sport they’ll enjoy.
“This is simply an opportunity to get outdoors with us, check out this ancient tool, and build a new skill,” Hendershott said.
All equipment will be provided, so registration is required at www.mdc.mo.gov/southeastevents. Ages 10 and up are welcome; all minors should be accompanied by an adult. Maintz Wildlife Preserve is located west of Jackson. From Jackson, take Highway 72 west, then Route B north, then County Road 472 west 1.50 miles to the area.