From Odysseus to Robin Hood, prehistoric peoples to Olympic gold medalists, archery has arguably always been a part of human history. That history is no less vibrant here in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Native Cherokee have shared bow hunting traditions for generations. And locals enjoy archery as a backyard hobby, as a sport, and as a tourist draw.
Here are just a few fun facts about bow hunting in the mountains.
Cherokee Hunters Trained for Years
The peoples of the Americas began using bows and arrows at least as early as 500 AD. Smaller arrowheads and more accurate trajectories made the technology less costly and more beneficial than spears. Even after European colonization, many indiginous people preferred their bows and arrows to guns. An arrow was much quicker to load and quieter to fire than a musket, making them more useful when approaching prey.
Young Cherokee hunters were trained over the course of four years by a hunting priest, who taught the men the sacred formulas for hunting. Priests would also help specialized hunters purify their bodies and perform sacred rites each time an animal was killed. In addition to bows and arrows, spears and blowguns played an important role in hunting and fishing.
Learn more about Cherokee hunting traditions. The 107th Annual Cherokee Indian Fair is happening this week. In addition to traditional fair fun and food, you can participate in many authentic Cherokee cultural activities, including archery and blowgun demonstrations, local art, dance, music, and more.
District 12 is a Real Place
Dating back to 1904, Henry River Mill Village was built as a planned community with its own textile mill, water system, and company store. In the late 1970s, the village was abandoned until its use as the backdrop for District 12 in 2011’s The Hunger Games. Today, a preservation fund seeks to revitalize the town.
Katniss Everdeen, the bow-wielding heroine of the Hunger Games trilogy, was a skilled archer. To prepare for the role, actress Jennifer Lawrence trained extensively with Olympic archer Khatuna Lorig. Renewed local and international interest in archery can be directly attributed to the films. In fact, people visit from all over to take behind-the-scenes tours of the District 12 grounds, including fun scene reenactments, archery lessons, and archery tag.
Channel your inner Katniss Everdeen. Consider lessons at a local archery range. Artemis Archery Asheville offers lessons in empowerment and traditional bow skills to archers of all ages, specializing in training for women and children.
Archery Hunting Season Starts Soon
Even though bows and arrows are among the earliest weapons created by man, recent advances in technology have given new life to bow hunting. From traditional bows to recurve and compound bows, serious archers understand how to use bows for both stationary and moving targets.
With the exception of certain game lands, weapons seasons for deer are divided by county. In North Carolina’s western deer zone, which includes Buncombe, Henderson, and Haywood counties, there are three blocks of time this year approved for hunting by bow and arrow or crossbow:
- September 7–29, 2019
- October 13–November 24, 2019
- December 15, 2019–January 1, 2020 (antlered deer only)
Field test your bow. Learn more about deer hunting regulations in your county. Information about the next urban archery season is also available.