Ancient Weapon Used for Deer Hunt

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On opening day of the Missouri firearm deer season, Luke Boenker decided to hunt with the most primitive of weapons, an atlatl. Boenker is now receiving recognition in Missouri as the first deer hunter to harvest a buck with an atlatl, which is an ancient weapon, a dart throwing device. Missouri legalized atlatls for hunting this past year and Boenker was the first to harvest a deer, Scott Rorebeck used the technique as well this year.

Boenker has been hunting since he was a boy, but didn't even load his guns this year. He stuck with the atlatl that he made himself, along with the dart. He has been working with the atlatl for the last three months, with help from his friend and president of the Missouri Atlatl Associate (MAA), Ron Mertz.

Boenker shot his four point buck on November 12th. He was in a tree stand about 30 feet high when the buck came into view. He grunted and the buck paused. Boenker took that pause to throw the dart. The atlatl can get the dart going as fast as 100 miles per hour. From Missouri Department of Conservation.


GooseHunter Jr's picture

Wow now that is really going

Wow now that is really going back in time.  Kudos to him for going out there and giving it all or nothing.  That is truly a trophy in all book not matter then size.  I am sure there are not too many people around that can say that they have done that before.  Congrats on a job well done and nice shooting with a dart.

hunter25's picture

Wow!! I knew there was at

Wow!! I knew there was at least one state that offered this type of hunt but I think it was Montana not Missouri that I was thinking of. I can't imagine the amount of practice that must be needed to become proficient with a weapon of this type. When I first heard of these seasons I really didn't think I would be readinga success story from anyone. Congratulations to the hunter on being able to to accurately use an atlatl and then taking his animal with one. I don't tthink I would ever get the urge to hunt with one myself but I would like to try one out to see how they work myself.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Very cool!  I believe there

Very cool!  I believe there was a guy last year or the year before that had done that in another state, and has taken a few different types of game with atlatls.  I'll have to look up his name.  It can't be too easy a thing, so I am glad to see this guy was very prepared before going intot eh woods to attempt it.  3 months of continuous practice is a good amount of time. And as Retired mentioned, having to do it 30 feet up a tree adds a bunch tot he difficulty level.

Reminds me of that story I posted just about 2 months ago concerning the show on the discovery channel. It was the Caveman show where they took a mature bull elk with an atlatl, hit it in the neck.  For that purpose, and without them being trained in it's use for more than an hour or so, it looked insufficient.  However, if someone puts the time in like Mr. Boenker did in Missouri, then I guess it's more than adequate.

The only thin gi don't like is that this guy now has more kills with an atlatl, then I do with my bow...... Sad..... lol

groovy mike's picture

Now that's cool and it is not something that you see every day!

Now that's cool.   And it is not something that you see every day! Congratulations to Mr.  Boenker.  Not too many folks still living can claim to have done what he has this year!

I actually have helped with an unsucessful atlatl hunt.  A friend of mine holds the only license for a non-native american to spear hunt in New York State.  We worked together to build a blind on my hunting property but no deer presented themselves within atlatl range that season.  I think that the license is still valid, maybe he should try again! I have never hunted with an atlatl and dart but a younger version of myself is on an instructional video used by the university of New Mexico showing how to use one 

That's as close as I will liekly ever get to hunting with one.  I prefer things that go BANG! and make deer fall down where they are standing!

Retired2hunt's picture

  Now that is primitive! 


Now that is primitive!  Congrats to Mr. Boenker on his fine harvest here.  To hunt with a traditional recurve bow and harvest a deer is one thing but to throw a dart that is 4 to 6 feet in length and hit the deer in the vitals... well that is primitive and definitely a great challenge as well as a great success.  My hat is off to Mr. Boenker for going outside of the norm and taking up a very old method of a hunting, taking three months to practice on the devise he made, and making a kill shot on a nice buck.  The other intersting point here is that he was 30 feet up in a tree stand shooting his atlatl at a buck that was just 15 yards from the tree.  The angle of the shot had to be at a great degree.  Most likely also allows a greater power in release of the dart.  Just a fantastastic success story.  I don't think I would try that on anything larger than a whitetail.  Who am I kidding!  I think I will stick with my rifle and bows for harvesting my big game.