Sunday, March 7, 2010

Amazon Caiman Spear II

© 2009, 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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Hunting Caiman, Amazon Style

Image Credit: Primitive Point
My friend and fellow Blogger, Todd Hill over at Primitive Point, is an accomplished smith, who turns out some pretty field-worthy blades in his spare time. He also lived and grew up in the Amazon. He and his father visit the basin on a regular basis, and Todd hand forged a set of spear points for his friends in Brazil some time ago.  So for those of you interested in forging and bladesmithing his site is good places to start.

SBW over at the Suburban Bushwacker reminded me that we have to get together and skewer a gator, and that we need Todd to forge us a couple of harpoon heads for that adventure. Not only that, but I could definitely use a good boar spear, and while I am at it, and SBW will certainly be game, we will need a couple of shark spears too. We haven't settled on a design yet, but we will have to hash that out sooner or later. Should make an interesting story.

Coincidently, I received this caiman spear years ago as a gift from a gentleman who runs a local gunshop. He traveled frequently to the Amazon basin also, and had adopted a small village. Perhaps they had adopted him, I not too sure of the initial start of his relationship with them, though I seem to remember that his father first brought him there a couple of decades ago. We spent several hours in conversation that day, and he graciously offered me this caiman spear as a parting gift.

The design is such that the wrapped cord holds the barb and the head in place against the foreshaft. When a fish or caiman was speared, the cord unfurled and the shaft floats to the surface allowing the hunters a better chance at retrieval.

The wood of the foreshaft and head is a dark, heavy, hard, and oily wood. The foreshaft is cylindrical with both ends tapered; sort of a long narrow barrel. The shaft, I was told, is from a flowering stalk of a tropical flower.

The barb or spear point is made from a 3/16" bar or nail that has been hammered out by hand on a simple charcoal forge.

Here are the dimensions:

OAL 7’ 7”
Barb 6”
Head 4.75”
Foreshaft 11.5”
Shaft 6’ 3”
Cord 6’
Depth of socket hole in head ¾”

If you take a look at the very first picture at the top, you can see how the spear is set up. The line is tightly coiled around the shaft, and the head locks in place by tension from the line.

If I can get a few moments to spare, I will try to make a new spear out of local materials. Orange or persimmon tree shoots which tend to grow very straight would make a good shaft. Live oak which is quite heavy and element proof, would make great material for the foreshaft and head. I have an anvil and enough hammers for twenty people, so I should be able to hammer a serviceable spear out of a big spike or rod.

There are several lakes with huge carp in them that might be a tempting target for a well made spear. It would give me an excuse to load the Pirogue we built last winter, and head on out as the weather warms and the fish swarm the shallows.

That might make another interesting story!

Related Posts:

Follow the rest of the Pirogue building series!

Part I: Getting Started
Part II: Butt the Plywood
Part III: Measuring Up
Part IV: Cutting and Building the Ribs
Part V: Attaching the Ribs
Part VI: Attaching the Internal Chines
Part VII: Attaching the Bottom and Finishing Up


The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Glad you haven't forgotten our gator hunt albert.

I think we need to spend more time teasing Todd about his lack of posts, I really miss him.


Anonymous said...

A gator hunt, now that sounds exciting and dangerous at the same time.

Borepatch said...

Rats. I don't think that it's on the Massachusetts "Approved Spear Roster". :-p