Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Apache poison arrow

A small number of  American Indian tribes made use of the Poisoned Arrow in hunting and war, notably the Apache, Navajo, Paiute and the Diegueno Indians of California. But this was not a common practice. American Indians were very skilled with the bow and arrow which made any enhancement unnecessary.

The poisoned arrow would have been used on a special enemy or perhaps on a great bear like the Grizzly. In my research, I have found that  the San bushman of the Kalahari desert used poison arrows daily. I believe they are the only native peoples in the world to use this technique consistently and as part of their way of life.

Making a Poisoned Arrow:

The poison used by the Apaches for their arrows was obtained from rattle snakes and extracts from various poisonous plants, deer gall bladder bile was another component used in poison arrow making. To obtain venom from a rattlesnake, the reptile was irritated until it repeatedly struck a piece spoiled meat or liver held on a stick, impregnating it with its toxin. The tips of arrows or blowgun darts were then dipped into the poisoned meat.

Making a Poisoned Arrow - Poison from Plants:
Extracts from poisonous plants were also used to make poison arrows. Different plants included extracts from yew bark or needles, dog bane, hemlock,Golden Poppy, Bloodroot and nightshade. The Apache applied a poison mix of deer gall, snake venom, and plant extracts to their arrow heads and allowed them to dry before use. The more applications the stronger the poison. Some Native Americans also used the juice from the roots of false hellebore and corn lily. This liquid would be applied to arrow tips before heading out on the war trail.

The Poisoned Arrow - Storing the Poison:
If additional poison was carried on the war trail it was stored in clay containers that were carried in the bottom of the warriors quiver. If  more poison arrows were needed the poison could be added at the time the arrow would be used. Apache warriors were able to make one shot with an arrow every 3-4 seconds to an effective range of about 200 yards.

The Apache scout - Tomahawk scout manual

Here is an excerpt from some recent additions I am making to the Tomahawk scout manual. You can find the current version  on amazon at the link below -

When on a scout , the Apache of the old west, would lie on a rocky point for many days and make no trail or sign. Besides his weapons, his entire equipment would consists of a gourd of water, some dried meat , a little mescal, mesquite beans, or parched corn meal (pinole), maybe a blanket or bear skin. Every bit of smoke, dust cloud or glimmer of light on the desert below would be noted, as well as the flight of every bird, and the movements of the few desert animals.

Patience, patience and then more patience! To endure the cold nights, the Apache scout will make a little fire of smokeless dry twigs, warm up the ground all afternoon, then bury the embers . He would then lie on the warm spot until it cooled again.Then he will make a tiny fire of 2 crossed sticks, wrap his blanket around him, and then doze and freeze by turns until the sun once more brings warmth and another day of silence and watching.

What the modern scout needs to learn from the Apache scouts of old, is the power to endure loneliness, as well as stoical indifference to physical pain. The old Boers of the high velt in south Africa, the Tuaregs and Bedouins of the desert and the Apaches have (or had) this power to a high degree. I have found they most modern people are town dwellers and do not possess the inner strength to meet a test of solitude.

See you on the trail!


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Big cats in the Huachucas

Big cats of the Huachuca Mountains

While exploring a side canyon in Arizonas Huachuca mountains a while back, I caught a glimpse of a fawn colored wraith slipping away into the forest. There was an unmistakable feline smell in the air. This glimpse of a Mountain Lion reminded me of a conversation I had recently with a Biologist on Fort Huachuca about the Big cat sightings  in recent years. There Have been Jaguar sightings in the Pelloncillos, Chiricahuas and the Huachucas, 5 Oscelot sightings in the Huachucas, and Jagarundi sightings in SW Arizona. Then in turn, This conversation reminded me of an experience I had with a Big Cat in Thailand. It could only be one of 2 types of big cat – a Leopard or a Tiger.

The region where I live in SE Arizona is part of what is called the Madrean Archipeligo , it is an area that covers the southwestern USA and North Western Mexico. The Biodiversity of this region is something that has always amazed me. This region possess such a wide range of flora and fauna that it seems almost impossible. Where else in the world will you find everything from the Grass hopper Mouse (genus Onychomys ) , to the Jaguar (panthera onca) ?, Or on the flora side, you find dandelions to palm trees! Plus, Cochise county boasts that it is the Humming bird capitol of the world, and that 38% of all butterflies found in the USA are found here. The Army base of Fort Huachuca - according to a biologist - claims over 1000 plant species endemic to the area.

But my main purpose of this is to make note of the recent wild cat sightings in the area around the Huachuca mountains. Personally, I have seen many Bobcats and have been privileged to see Pumas on a few occasions. One night , while camped in a place I call "Bear camp" because of all the Bear (Ursus Americanis) encounters I have had there -  I heard the roar of what sounded like a big cat. I did some research on it and found out that the Jaguar - sighted many times in Arizona; is the 3rd largest cat in the world and, the only North American species the roars.

There are many wild animal mysteries yet to be uncovered in these Mountains. For the Most part, the Huachucas are pretty wild and rarely explored except by myself of the occasional illegal alien or drug runner. Most Americans are lazy, and subscribe to the idea that if they have to walk , they are not going to go. This is good because it keeps useless environment abusers in town where they belong.

See you on the trail!

Tomahawk - Scouts Out!

Cameraman John Mans

Cameramen impress me. The guy who filmed my in Chile` during the DYS shoot  is John Mans based out of Colorado. John is an Emmy award winning cameraman and has a lot of TV shows to his credit.

When the chopper  dropped us off on Corcovado, and we began up and out of the cordillera, all I was carrying was a golf bag, John - who isnt much younger than me, was humping a pack that would have made a pack mules asshole cut washers. And, all the while operating 3 cameras and a go pro for stills. He is an impressive guy.

You can read more about John on his website at - . I can say with 100% certainty and honesty that if I would ever do a TV show again, I would like to have John mans as the dude doing the filming.

See you on the trail!


The "Jing Hawk" in Cebu

Several years ago my jungle "survival buddy" Jing in Cebu, stumbled across this cool little tomahawk made by a local blacksmith in Cebu, Philippines.  I dig it, this little hawk can pack a wallop and is light weight, easily concealable, and has a super cool factor. Jing has lovingly carried it and cared for it for many years and Im not sure but I think he might even sleep with it in town......


Carabao (water buffalo) jaw bone Tomahawk

Last fall when I was in Cebu, Philippines, killing time and hanging out with my Bushcraft friends at Camp red, I stumbled onto a shop on Mango street that had some cool old historic items in it. One of which was a carabao (water buffalo) jaw bone "tomahawk". I have seen similar ones made in the USA from a donkey or horse jaw bone.

I suppose tribal warriors all over the world can see the value of a weapon weapon like this. It would definitely cleave a skull if needed.

See you on the trail!


The Tomahawk - by Snake Blocker

By Snake Blocker
Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas

Any serious martial artist, survivalists, fighter, law enforcer, security officer, or self defense practitioner must add a level of knowledge of the tomahawk along their journey in life.  Many versions of the tomahawk have been around since the first people in ‘time-in-memorial.’  The tomahawk (hawk) is merely a tool.  Its use is determined by the hand, or hands that wield it.  For a survivalist, it can cut timber to feed a fire.  It can chop a tree to build shelter.  It can cut the limbs of a trophy Elk to transport section by section back to base camp.  For a martial artist, it can defeat a larger opponent, or several larger opponents. 
For Ted Bundy, it aided in providing more than one human meal.  The tomahawk is neither savvy, nor cunning.  It is neither righteous, nor wrong.  Its fate is in the use, or misuse of its holder.  Its fear-factor is in the eye of its beholder or receiver.  I can write a volume of books on the many uses of the mighty tomahawk, but no need to state the obvious applications.  If you aim to learn self defense, you must learn the tomahawk, because violence has been around since Cain killed Able.  You can learn the way of the tomahawk from thousands of teachers (some self proclaimed) around the world… but why travel, when you can flip the pages of a tomahawk book (or watch a video), and get an idea of the variations that surround this tool.  No one teacher has all the answers, nor all the drills, exercises, forms, or tactics that encapsulate the hawk, therefore, learn from the respected instructors, then battle-test what works for you.

What worked for Goyathlay (Geronimo) may not work for you, my warrior friend.  What works for you, may not work for Justin Beaver.  Everyone must take a drill and make adaptations to meet their own individual skill set and limitations.  Everyone has a different range of motion; a different arm length; different wrist strength; a different walking/running gait; different mobility, and a different speed.  Add a variety of tomahawk books and videos to your library of weapons and you will be leaps ahead of the average Joe.  The hawk, like the knife, has always been around, and it is not going away.  Most assaults around the world are not the result of firearms, but rather a result of hand held weapons, which include: knives, sticks, clubs, bats, and tomahawks.  No great library is complete without including some material to cover this topic.

I lived in the Middle East for over 3 years and I saw tomahawks in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  I lived in Los Angeles for over 30 years and the tomahawk was among the street gangs as well.  My friend Shark was with a group of new friends that invited him to a restaurant club on the weekend.  This group was what many would consider the ‘nerdy’ group.   Shortly after they arrived, there was a confrontation with these ‘nerds’ and some slightly intoxicated ‘cool’ guys over something meaningless, so one of the ‘nerds’ pulled out two compact tomahawks from of his back (under his jacket) and he was ‘ready to rumble.’  The ‘cool’ guys didn’t feel so ‘cool’ anymore and ran outside to ‘cool off.’ 
At the Apache reservations I visited, most household had tomahawks in their living space. I spent a couple weeks at Firebase Chamkani when I lived in Afghanistan.  A few weeks after I left this base, the local village across the street from the base brought in two family members that had just been attacked by the Taliban.  The Taliban had taken a tomahawk and chopped the two men up and down, then left for dead because they had good relations with the US Army base.  One man still had the tomahawk lodged into his spine which got stuck.  He was pronounced dead on arrival (DOA).  The second man was still breathing.  My buddy was there at the time.  While the US Army medics were trying to save the 2nd guy, the DOA guy with the tomahawk in his back came back to life.  They tried to keep him alive but he had lost too much blood and died a second time after a few minutes.  I have heard many more tomahawk stories over the years and it does not surprise me to hear about them.  Military troops in almost every country around the world still carry tomahawks or other wielding weapons in similar size.

Learn what you can of the hawk.  Learn its ways--for its ways are many.  The tomahawk can be made from stone,bone, metal, plastic, wood, or composite.  Regardless of the material it is forged from or assembled from, you must always respect the hawk!  I carry one in my car, in my house, and in my studio.  The hooking power and blunt force produced from a hawk can be fatal.  Use only the force necessary in any situation. 
Avoid conflict as much as humanly possible but when no other options are available, you must use the hawk my friend—to serve and protect.    I started researching Apache Knife Fighting & Battle Tactics from various Apache tribal members around 1993.  I taught my first of many seminars on the topic in 1995 and I've been teaching since then.  A few years after I began teaching, there have been many others that came around and began to teach. 
They teach what they know (or think they know) on such topics.  I learn more every year and continue to add to the Apache History books.  Like the cunning Apache Raven, continue to learn from both the past and the present.  Enjoy your journey!
Snake Blocker