Friday, December 6, 2013

An Inexpensive Arrow Quiver....

I’ve seen arrow quivers made from old cowboy boots, woven river cane (Phragmites and Arundo) and willow branches, brain-tanned deer hide, cowhide, PVC pipe, and canvas.  Some arrow quivers are short affairs about 15-inches long while others are up to 30 inches.  I’ve experimented with varying lengths and while the shorter quivers enable one to extract an arrow with less fuss, the longer quivers offer more protection in thick or briary habitats.  I live in what some people call “The Thorn Forest” so I prefer longer quivers.  Regardless, the arrow quiver is the cumbersome part of the bow and arrow duo.  Some bow hunters use a quiver that attaches to the bow and those are quite handy.  Years ago when I hunted with fiberglass recurves I always used a bow-limb attached quiver but since going au naturel (“Sin artificio ni mezcla o elaboración.”) I’ve opted for traditional over-the-shoulder or across-the-back quivers.  Mind you, when I hunt (I’m more of a target shooter these days) I lean several arrows against a branch or nearby bush so I can easily reach them if needed.

A week ago I decided to make a new quiver.  I used a remnant piece of upholstery leather placed inside out, an inexpensive rawhide dog chew, some 1/8 inch wide rawhide thread I’d made from deer skin and a shaft made from granjeno (gran-hen-no) known scientifically as (Celtis pallida).  I dyed the leather and rawhide with a concoction made from dried cranberries, alcohol, and the roots and bark of colima (Zanthoxylum fagara).  By the way, I’m still experimenting with the formula.

Upholstery and dog chew rawhide

In case you’re interested the arrows in the quiver were made from Phragmites australis berlandieri.  Phragmites was used by a number of Indian groups to make their arrows.  Spanish explorers noted on several occasions that the Indians in what is  now known as northeastern Tamaulipas, Mexico and South and Southwest Texas made their arrows with phragmites.  NOTE: I will be posting an article about the current controversies surrounding phragmites and why both government agencies and environmental groups are “shooting the messenger” instead of dealing with the real underlying ecological problems.  Please keep an eye out for that article.

Close up of the granjeno shaft.

I fletched the arrows with commercial turkey feathers.  I painted the white turkey feathers with a compound I’ve been experimenting with that more-or-less make them look like feathers from the genus Buteo.  The experiment has been only partially successful and thus disappointing because the dye either fades quickly or simply rubs off in my hands.  You’ll note that I used plastic nocks on my arrows.  Those nocks are inexpensive and far less susceptible to damage and they work for me.  I’ve also made nocks directly into the phragmites and by inserting small pieces of wood into the cane as was done by some Indian tribes.

Rawhide broadpoint shield at the base of the quiver.

The quiver measures 28 inches in length.  The dog chew rawhide was allowed to soak in water for an hour then carefully unraveled.  I wrapped the dog chew rawhide around the base of the quiver; it’s the cranberry red portion in the photographs.  When dry the rawhide becomes stiff and hard and thus serves to protect the bowyer from being punctured by razor-sharp broadheads.  The granjeno shaft keeps the quiver from collapsing when empty.  The rawhide thread was placed on dry and then wetted with my homemade dye.  Like the rawhide shield at the base of the quiver, the rawhide thread became quite stiff when dry.  The quiver weighs but a few ounces.  I prefer my hunting quivers to hold no more than about six or seven arrows.  In the places I hunt there is no need to carry more arrows.  Folks, if you miss with the first shot your chances of getting a second shot range from zero to practically nonexistent so in truth the only reason to carry more than a couple of arrows is in case you need to shoot several “finishers” into your quarry.  The biggest mistake I’ve seen novice bow hunters make is stationing themselves too far from the spot where they expect to see game when they do not have the skills to consistently make that shot.  So learn to shoot first and then learn to get close.  Otherwise you’re being imprudent and callous.  Besides, all true hunters view killing as the tragic side of acquiring food.  “Sport hunters” be damned and that sort of thing for they are neither hunters nor true woodsmen.


  1. I can't thank you enough for publishing this wealth of wisdom. When I read your blog Im always opening up new tabs to google the plant names and finally learning the real identities and uses of plants I've lived around my whole life. :)

    1. That's excellent. Learn the plants. Memorize their Latin names and families. I see that you are also finding out all you can about the ethnobotanical uses of the plants. You are on the right path.