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Thread: Thistle-down fletched blowgun darts

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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    Default Thistle-down fletched blowgun darts

    First attempt was not so great.
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    By the second attempt, I had a feel for it.
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    I cheated and used barbecue skewers as the dart shafts, and sewing thread as the binder, but the rest is home brew except for Old Hickory. (I still have my "Oh, $h!+" knife)

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    Pictured is the thistle heads, not quite exploded, but the flowers have turned brown. sewing thread from a bobbin, Beeswax to make the thread sticky, and skewers. I generally make my darts about 6" long, so cut the skewer to length, then split the blunt end about an inch. I generally use about 5-6 feet of thread and cut off the excess when I'm done. Wax (or rosin) your string heavily, start in the split and tie a couple knots on opposite sides to keep the string from slipping, and wrap the split end a few times so it will not separate.
    Preparing the thistle heads is a little tricky depending on their maturity. I have really tough hands, but thistles are really spiky, so if you have tender hands, you might want a glove for this part. Hold the thistle head upright in your fist with the flowers sticking up. Just barely grab each flower and pull it out. Two things can happen here depending on the maturity of the thistle head. Either it is not mature enough and the flowers and down come out together, OR the flowers pull right out and leave the fluffies intact. Once a head has started opening and releasing the seeds, it is too late to use it, so collect them as soon as the flowers start to turn brown and if you need to store them, you can split a piece of bamboo or rivercane and store them in the chamber until ready to use.
    You'll have to pull the bracts down and out of the way to grip the fluffies. Roll your hand over so that the pappus hairs are to the back of your hand and the seeds are toward your palm. From this position you can simply rub the seeds off the ends of the fluffies with your fingernail. DO NOT LOSE YOUR GRIP ON THE FLUFFIES!
    Place your prepared skewer, fletching end toward your palm, sharp point toward your other hand, between your thumb and palm, and put the string in your mouth so you can keep it tight as you roll the skewer.
    As you begin to twist the skewer, the sticky string will slowly pick up a few fluffies at a time and bind them to the shaft. You will slowly push the skewer deeper into your grip to keep the fluff moving toward the tip of the shaft. Don't worry if it looks messy right now. As you run out of fluff, you'll simply wrap the forward end many times, reminiscent of old hafting, then tie knots so that it will not come undone. The string is sticky so this part is a little tricky, but you'll get it

    It sounds a lot more complicated than it is. It might take a few tries to make pretty ones, but it is actually really easy. Who am I kidding.. They don't need to be pretty, they just need to WORK!
    I learned this from a video by Bo Brown of Bois de Arc. He doesn't explain anything in the video, so hopefully the explanation above will clear up anything you might have questions about.
    http://youtu.be/M68b6p4WwBk
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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    First attempt at lethal tips. Also, first time using quills.
    Tips hafted with sinew and a drop of pine resin.
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    Oh, and Thanks for the tips ClayPick!

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    Senior Member MrFixIt's Avatar
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    I'm sure that you could a bag a rabbit or 3 with those!
    When all else fails, read the directions, and beware the Chihuahuacabra!

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    That's pretty cool. I had to give you some rep for that. Nice job.

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    Tried getting a couple squirrels yesterday. I need more practice

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    Default fun with blow darts

    Squirrels will sometimes let you get much closer, especially near your neighbor's bird feeder, oops perhaps I said too much…
    Also be sure to wear eye protection if shooting up into the trees, some folks I knew in the Amazon lost an eye from blow darts. They also used wild cotton balls down there, works fairly well for me. Cotton (improved farm varieties or wild) should grow well in your neck of the southern woods. I am also very lazy and just use bamboo BBQ skewers, can split to make lighter. Track wounded "fussy trailed tree rats" to neighbors rain gutter and tell them you need to retrive ball or frisbee from it. One guy I know had city animal control come over and got into a heated argument with the little lady about it. LOL She had no idea when squirrel season was or bag limits.

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    Default Honey Locust tip with barb?

    Dart tips other than quills that you might try are long thorns such as Honey Locust, calorie pear, or wild citrus. Might be able to cut a small barb in these. I used thorns from Tucumã palm tree. Once when very young I stepped one of these thorns in my backyard and watched it go completely thru my foot, it came out nice and clean.

    33568.jpg

    http://cdn.c.photoshelter.com/img-ge...zon-LT0212.jpg

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    Default Indigenous Blowpipe darts: palm stalk and wild cotton fletching

    If you want to seriously hunt with a blowpipe and darts study how the indigenous people who have been doing it succesfully for hundreds of years do it.



    Many variations among all the peoples of S.A., Africa, S.E. Asia and South Pacific etc but those that I grew up with use the outer layer of a palm leaf stalk (try Sabal palm dry-kiln/ air-dry green secured to straight board). Sharpened dart without fletching allows you to keep over 100 very straight in a small quiver with lid. Then natural cotton (seeds and other litter removed) in a gourd (or plastic pill bottle) with small hole for dispensing a bit at a time. Spin a bit on end of dart shaft as needed, only make a few darts as you need them, or they will warp (get bent and not fly straight).

    Unfortunately if you live in Florida where wild cotton is actually a native plant and endangered, you are not legally permitted to grow it or collect it. (special permit is possible.) I find it easier to just spot a field in the late summer or fall that has already been harvested by machine, ask the farmer if I can glean in his field for the bits of remaining cotton. In 30 minutes or less I have a year's supply, seal it up tight (ziplock) so little risk of spreading Boil Weevils, dust with D.E. or put in microwave for 30 seconds to kill any.

    http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divi...il-Regulations

    For people who do not live in a state that has such regulations or if you have a growing permit you might be able to get cotton seed from people in a gardening club or from local natural craft people who like this stuff. Or if nothing else order the seed from the internet from some place like this:

    http://www.southernexposure.com/cotton-c-19.html

    BTW Howler monkeys are fairly large, during the summers I fell asleep at night listening to them howl in the rain forest not far from our palm leaf hut. Monkey meat is the most gamey tasting wild game I have ever eaten. It was Spider monkey, I never ate Howler.
    Last edited by TXyakr; 12-01-2014 at 11:24 AM. Reason: Monkey Meat has a strong flavor

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    Default Amazonian Dart quiver with gourd cotton dispenser

    This "authentic artifact" (not sure about that??) is way over priced but gives you the general idea of a blowpipe/gun dart quiver with cotton gourd dispenser that you could make for much cheaper. The advantage is that these ultra light darts can travel very far, much further than those steel darts from "cold steel" or other factory made models. High velocity is necessary to penetrate the surprisingly tough skin of even small mammals and birds at close range.

    URARINA PERU AMAZON INDIAN BLOWGUN DART CONTAINER at yagetribalart

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    http://www.yagetribalart.com/store/i...ccdbda566f1797

    Note: I do not know who these people from this web site are, this is "Art" not hunting supplies. I posted link as an example of something to DIY not suggestion of something you would actually buy.

    Indigenous people showed me how to make these and also tiny bow and arrow/spear for small fish in the shallows at the edge of river and streams, both with palm stalks. Basic survival protein when you don't have much time to waste hunting large game.

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    Just a curious question. I've never done this before so I have no point of reference. Could the thistle down be much smaller? It's seem pretty large and would add drag to the dart as it moves through the air slowing it down. Maybe it wouldn't but it just looks that way to me. You did a great job either way.

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    Default Small diameter, light, but long for accuracy. Use fly tying techniques perhaps?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    Could the thistle down be much smaller? It's seem pretty large and would add drag to the dart as it moves through the air slowing it down. Maybe it wouldn't but it just looks that way to me. You did a great job either way.
    That is a good point Rick, this is an idea I have not yet tried, but to borrow an idea from fishing fly tying I would like to use a hair stacker and some animal hair or possibly thistle down to tie onto a blowpipe dart, maybe even add small feathers behind it to improve flight trajectory. There are much better YT videos than this one that show the use of hair stackers and hair packers but his one shows adding feathers and the hair and trimming the hair with small scissors. (Tying can be done with just a hemostat but fancy tools make it faster and more precise.)


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    Default light dart goes very far and is more accurate

    Note at about minute 31 of this Nat Geo video that these darts are thinned to be very light (<1 gm but long 30 cm) so they fly at about 180 km/hour and go up to 50 meters (that is 112 mph or 164 ft/sec up to 164 feet of distance, obviously very slow at the end that distance.) Compare to heavy steel darts from Cold Steel that are 0.625" and will not go nearly that far or fast with human force. (1 gram is 0.035 ounce)


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    @ Rick, They are a bit slow, and bulky. As I get better, I will try smaller darts and less fluff. I'm trying to barter for a 6' piece of river cane so I'll have to make them to fit the pipe in the future. Gotta make me one of those quivers, too!

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    Senior Member MrFixIt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by your_comforting_company View Post
    @ Rick, They are a bit slow, and bulky. As I get better, I will try smaller darts and less fluff. I'm trying to barter for a 6' piece of river cane so I'll have to make them to fit the pipe in the future. Gotta make me one of those quivers, too!
    I have some rather large bamboo growing on the property. Might be too big at the base but close to the top might be more suitable.
    PM me if interested...
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    just a thought but you can buy bamboo scewers 100 in a pack for 1,dollar at the dollar store.
    they are 10,in long i dont know if that is long enough for darts is it? cause i would like to make one too.
    also bamboo or mabey even river cane check your local nursery and garden store for the bamboo shafts
    for the pipe tube. dollarstore again for cotton balls whole bag for a buck.
    Last edited by hayshaker; 12-03-2014 at 10:46 AM. Reason: want to add additional thought

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    Senior Member ClayPick's Avatar
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    Mostly adornment is what i’ve seen quills used for. My guess is that they would make a good tip. They’ll probably stay in and are they ever aggravating things to get driven into ya! I checked to see what the status is for a blow gun in Canada. I’m not surprised to find out that they are a prohibited weapon too ........ it’s plain hilarious. LOL!

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    Default I'm clueless but enjoy learning, cane or wood cool stuff

    For many years I though "river cane" WAS bamboo. Silly me. Guess it is distant relative. I read up on how the Cherokee used it for blowguns (aka blowpipe) and also Thistle-down. I would like to know what techniques they used to straighten it and hollow it out/ grind out nodes. In many other parts of the world indigenous people spend many hours hand drilling hard woods about 6-10 feet long. If you drill too fast it burns the wood. Either way river cane or hard wood this is a long process to get an even diameter of ideal size that is very straight. I know enough to realize I know very little about woods, some I have considered are Beech, Hickory/Pecan, Red Oak, and not very seriously Bois D'arc which would be insane, I would die of old age attempting that. Many wood specialty places that sell this: wood finder dot com can help but they do not list woodworldtx which is close to me and has an incredible selection of wood. FYI 4/4 is 1" 6/4 is 1.5" etc hard woods sold in board feet, go to your local supplier and buy just what you need much better than online. Some sell green wood which may be best if you understand how to use it (air or heat dry-kiln) or cut your own if you have legal access to land. Extremely technical! but fun.

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    Default Sorry Calif, Mass and Washington DC y'all can throw sharp sticks, jk

    Quote Originally Posted by ClayPick View Post
    I checked to see what the status is for a blow gun in Canada. I’m not surprised to find out that they are a prohibited weapon too ........ it’s plain hilarious. LOL!
    http://usblowgun.com/legal.html

    The US Blowgun Association has not been very active in recent years but they posted that only 2 liberal states and D.C. that banded them.
    I am fairly certain that they are legal in TX (except in State Parks where any weapon is illegal, even rubber band sling shot).

    Folks in these two states probably watched far to many James Bond type movies and are fearful of poison darts, this is silly! A person can use a tiny cross bow or air soft gun with scored plastic BBs dipped in any one of hundreds of toxins to knock out or possibly kill someone and these weapons are mostly legal in those places. I DO NOT discuss specific poisons on public websites. My B-in-law is a Vet and developed his own low cost anesthesia (not yet approved by FDA) but any person good at biology and/or chemistry can come up with their own from plants/insects/arachnid/reptiles/synthetic chemicals. The delivery mechanism is also very easy, no need for a blowgun or training by a gov agency. IMO bad behavior should be banded not devices.

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