Archive | January, 2011

Finding Ozarks Arrowheads

31 Jan

By: Rick Smith (Ozarks Quail Farm)

As we start thinking about spring, life along James River will come alive with the river culture that has made it so famous. Since I was a small boy in the 50’s some of my finest memories are arrowhead hunting with my uncle along the river bottoms.

Group of Ozarks natives looking for arrowheads at Long Creek

Our Native Americans lived up and down the river for centuries. They left behind a lot of their lifestyle if you now where to look. As the farmers along the river plowed their spring fields we started our arrowhead hunting trips in the freshly turned dirt. Even after the many years have past there is still many artifacts that work their way to the surface. Finding hundreds of heads of different sizes, axe heads, drill bits, scrappers, etc. over the years. Another great way to find them is to search the creek beds that are dry except when we get a good rain. It takes a keen eye but they are hidden among the other creek rocks. If you want to try head hunting  please remember to ALWAYS ASK PERMISSION to enter these farmers land and do not mess anything up. If you don’t it will ruin it for us all. ‘Good Rock Huntin’!

Rick Smith


Did You Really Find an Arrowhead?

By: H. W. “Pete” Peterson (Missouri Archaeological Society)

Most likely not, although it is quite common for the average person to refer to most stone projectile points as arrowheads. Surprising as it may seem, most of the stone points commonly found along waterways or farmer’s fields probably never saw the end of an arrow. The simple reason is that the bow and arrow was a rather recent invention and came into general use by Native Americans only about 1,600 to 1,100 years ago. In contrast, consider that the first Americans may have arrived at least 13,000 years ago, and perhaps even earlier.

The true arrowhead is actually a very small point and seldom more than 11Ú2 inches long. Although sometimes referred to as “bird points,” they were used to kill not only birds but large animals as well, such as deer. The other projectile points we find are either too large to be arrowheads or were manufactured before the bow and arrow came into use. They are most likely tools such as scrapers and knives, spear points, or dart points used along with the atlatl for thousands of years before the bow and arrow. It’s possible that the first Americans may have brought the atlatl with them as they made their way into the Americas. This important innovation consisted of a spear mounted on a throwing stick. Inserted at the end of the spear was a dart tipped with a stone or bone point. With the atlatl, a hunter could throw a spear with much greater speed and distance than with the arm alone. Upon impact, the dart remained imbedded in the target as the spear bounced back and separated from the dart.

The most common arrowhead types found in and around the southwest drainage region of Missouri (and northern Arkansas) include Scallorn notched, Reed side notched, Mississippian triangles, and Crisp ovate. Please recognize that many variations of these point types will be found.

You will find that almost points all were made of flint (commonly called chert in the Ozarks) or quartzite. The chipped flint or chert is satin smooth and comes in many colors, whereas quartzite has a grainy appearance and is usually whitish or grayish white. Quartzite is a harder material and more difficult to work than flint. Although there may be quartzite arrowheads, flint seems to be the stone of choice based on the arrowheads that I have found.

A recommended reading is the handbook Indians and Archaeology of Missouri, by Carl H. and Eleanor Chapman (available from the MAS).

Webmaster’s note: The Prehistory of Missouri, by M. J. O’Brien and W. R. Wood, is another fine reference on Missouri archaeology (also available from the MAS).

Has it been 200 years already?

30 Jan

It seems just like yesterday…

1811: (and 1812): The infamous and monstrous New Madrid Earthquakes strike the Mississippi Valley in the vicinity of Missouri’s Boot-Heal region. Seismologists say that eight of the many quakes in the series were “8” on the Richter Scale. One, they believe was a gigantic 8.8. If the Madrid Quakes return in modern times the results would be disastrous almost beyond belief.

Heirloom Gardening and You!

28 Jan

The 2011 Baker Creek seed catalog should be on my doorstep anytime, I am really looking forward to seeing new items, they usually have something different and amazing every year. Of course we always purchase the staples like tomatoes and beans but we regularly drop in some exotic vegetable just to get a reaction from the neighbors. In looking at the catalog I always am amazed at the original artwork they provide and how it makes the catalog jump off the coffee table. Well…here’s how.

Working the dogs on the river

27 Jan

When someone mentions Hootentown, we immediately think about floatin’ and fishing the famous James river. Although that is the primary recreational use of the river, I remember the great quail hunting on the farms along it’s banks with their great river bottom fields. Once permission was obtained I could walk for miles with my dog, shotgun and a lot of shells. It was common to flush covey after covey and easily shoot your limit.  Many times we would have our limit and then have to walk back to the truck with the dog pointing dozens of singles. Most times just watching the dog work was what made the trip so much fun. I am sad to say this time was in the 60’s and 70’s for me. Since then the James river quail have gone the same way as quail throughout Missouri.  Bird numbers today are only a fraction of those in the past. Our farming ways have changed and so much land has been developed into homes. The bobwhite quail is Missouri’s game bird so I hope we can work to produce better habitat for them to survive. Quail hunters are a hardy bunch themselves. Even though they can’t find many wild birds these hunters still love the flush and working their dogs. In order to scratch this itch many have started buying game bird farm raised
birds. Properly raise in long natural fly pens these birds are very close to wild. They use them in a variety of ways.  From visiting hunting preserves, field trials, or training dogs on their own property. A very popular game bird farm is right here in
the Ozarks. In fact it is called ‘Ozarks Quail Farm’. Owned by a lifelong well known local sportsman, it produces about 15,000 quail per year. Hopefully we can see a rebirth of our wild bird population, but until then we hope the quail farmers will fill the void for a sport we love so much.

You can visit their website at: Stop by and contact them if you need some info on getting some birds. As a wise man once told me; Hunting & Fishing is not what we do, but who we are!!

Froggin’ On The James

25 Jan

It’s about this time of year when we pull out our secret stashes of Frog Legs and get to fryin’. It makes all our friends envious and of course they taste like fresh water chicken.Frogging in the Ozarks is one of our families favorite things to do on a hot summer night. You can hear those big bullfrogs croaking a half mile away in the hollows down on the James River.  There are a ton of different ways to catch these tasty frogs. One method that has been used for more than a century and our preferred method is gigging. Gig’s come in a multitude of shapes and sizes, some forged by craftsmen here in the Ozarks and have become highly collectible if you ask auctioneer Larry Foster of Foster Auction Service they can bring a handsome sum of money, especially those made right here in the James River area. You have to remember back in the early part of the last century up until 19 70 the gigging was done to put food on the table, whether it was frogs or suckers. The equipment used was built to last, failure meant nothing on the table for the family. I won’t get into the detailed information or history as it has been covered.

Here’s a recipe for fried bullfrog.

1 cup flour

1 cup crushed saltine crackers

1/4 cup corn starch

1 tbs black pepper

1 tbs season salt

1 tbs lemon pepper salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

2 quarts peanut oil

Thaw a possession limit of frog legs (16 pair) drain and pat dry with paper towels. Heat oil to 375 degrees. Combine dry ingredients into a large plastic bowl with lid. Dip legs into milk and egg mixture then drop into bowl with dry ingredients. Cover bowl and shake your legs! Drop in hot oil and cook until golden brown.

The experience and excitement of hunting frogs is topped only by the satisfaction of eating your harvest, and nothing draws kinfolk out of the woodwork like frogs in hot fat. All that usually remains after a frog fry is a little pile of bones picked clean as cotton swabs. This summer, hunt some frogs with your friends and family, make some lasting memories and enjoy a taste of Missouri’s bountiful resources.

(Recipe Provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation)

Camera captures mountain lion in Chesterfield

21 Jan


CHESTERFIELD • It’s impossible to mistake the big cat in the grainy black and white pictures — not with that distinct patch of white hair at its mouth, the muscled jaw line, bulging shoulders and sleek profile.

Call it a cougar, puma or panther.

The question is: What’s it doing in Chesterfield?

The Missouri Department of Conservation isn’t quite sure, but most likely the mountain lion was just passing through in search of territory or a mate.

The pictures taken Jan. 12 from a stationary wildlife camera mark the first confirmed sighting in St. Louis County since 1994, and the 13th in the state.