Learn about the atlatl at Sept. 17 MDC program

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BRANSON, Mo. – The atlatl is an ancient hunting tool that still fascinates people today.

People can learn more about atlatls and get a chance to test their own accuracy with this ancient hunting device at a free Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) program: “Primitive Skills: Introduction to Atlatl” from 9-11 a.m. on Sept. 17 at MDC’s Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center. People can register for this program at:


Atlatls are used to throw spear-like darts and were first used thousands of years ago when large mammals such as mastodons and wooly mammoths were among the animals humans hunted for food, clothing, and utensils. It’s unclear in which part of the world the atlatl was first developed, but they were used by ancient hunters around the globe, including here in North America. Ancient hunters understood enough about physics to know this throwing device added greater force to a spear than could be achieved by merely throwing it with one’s arm. This increased propulsion that came from an atlatl-launched spear resulted in an effective hunting tool.

At the Sept. 17 program, MDC Conservation Educator Jordan Poe will provide tips on how to use an atlatl. Participants will also have opportunities to test their atlatl skills by throwing at targets. Atlatls are legal to use for deer hunting during the archery and alternative methods portion of Missouri’s deer season. Archery season is in two segments, Sept. 15-Nov. 11 and Nov.23-Jan. 15. The alternative methods portion is Dec. 24-Jan. 3. More information about these hunting seasons can found in the “2022 Fall Deer and Turkey” hunting booklet that can be found at all MDC offices, most places that sell hunting permits, and at mdc.mo.gov.

The Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center is part of MDC’s Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery and is located at 483 Hatchery Road on the west end of Lake Taneycomo near Branson. People can stay informed about upcoming programs at the Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center and other nearby MDC facilities by signing up for text alerts and e-mail bulletins. People who have questions about how to sign up for text alerts from the Shepherd of the Hills Conservation Center or who want information about upcoming events can call 417-334-4865, ext. 0.

Staff at MDC facilities across the state are holding virtual and in-person programs. A listing of these programs can be found at mdc.mo.gov/events.