A few years ago I was in West Plains, Missouri, at some local community event when I met some fellows who called themselves “flintnappers.”

They were making arrowheads and spear points and they were really good at it. Each had wooden bows and arrows they had made themselves.

They also had “throwing sticks,” also known as atlatls, which you can use to hurl a spear as the early bluff dwellers of the Ozarks most likely did before the bow came along.  

If you know how to use one, you can use an atlatl to throw a spear, or something like a long arrow, completely through a deer if you can get close enough. One of those men had actually killed a couple of deer with his homemade bow and flint-tipped arrows, and one was planning to hunt deer that winter with an atlatl.

These guys were old-timers who amazed me at what they could do, and I always wanted to see them again. I found out that they are going to have another get-together on the weekend of October 7th and 8th at a little place called Chapel Grove, 15 miles east of Ava, Missouri.

It will be billed as “The Pioneer Heritage Festival of the Ozarks.” The whole thing is free, for visitors or vendors. If you make or use things from that era, like tools, knives or rifles, baskets, buckskin clothes, or blankets, etc., that were used in the settling of the Ozarks from 1800 to 1900, they’d like to have you join them.

They will welcome you and allow you to sell your goods or just put on a demonstration. I am thinking of attending and building one of the old-time Ozark river johnboats out of white pine. I have a friend who still makes sassafras boat paddles and I hope he will join me.

If you have an interest in this weekend event, call Donna Eslinger at (417) 496-2711, or Nina Carter at (417) 543-3401. Or you can email heritage417@gmail.com for more information.

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