- Ada, Oklahoma

Local News

September 3, 2013

Chickasaw craftsman upholds ancient hunting tradition


Ada —

“If you’re making a bow for a friend, relative or grandchild, your heart is in it,” he said. “You take your time and worry about the smallest detail. You want it to be perfect.”

The two friends will hunt the woods near Wapanucka, Okla., in their quest for venison using ancient hunting skills with bows and arrows manufactured in the ancient tradition. They will camp in a hunting lodge and pursue their quarry from dawn to dusk.

It will mark the first time in four years Mr. Walker has hunted.

“It is difficult to find places to hunt these days,” he said. “Landowners have discovered hunting leases are a profitable business. It isn’t like the days of my youth when most everyone would welcome you on to their property provided you tended to the resource as if it belonged to you.

“My friend has practiced with the bow I made for him. He feels he is ready now. I, too, believe I am ready to hunt again as my ancestors hunted hundreds of years ago.”

He also will have an eye peeled for a straight, limbless trunk of a bois d’arc tree. It must be about five to six feet long. It must be straight and not twisted by the never-ending Oklahoma wind.

Finding one is more difficult than it sounds.

“I’ve walked all day long searching for the perfect tree,” he said. “I’ll be searching creek banks where a group of bois d’arc trees are growing. Usually, when they grow in bunches, you’ll be able to find two or three trees where the trunk is reaching for the sun. The trunks won’t have time to sprout limbs because they are growing straight up. There’s your bow right there.”

A perfect trunk is approximately 10 inches in circumference. A single tree trunk, Mr. Walker said, can provide enough wood to make three to four bows.

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