Author Topic: ‘Gator Gar Scale Tipped Arrows  (Read 20711 times)

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Offline swamp monkey

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‘Gator Gar Scale Tipped Arrows
« on: November 13, 2010, 06:55:23 pm »
Alligator gar (a.k.a. the gator gar) has a variety of scale shapes all over their body.  Scales along the back and belly are round while scales along the sides are triangular with a stem originating at the base.  Shape changes gradually as you make your way around the gar’s body.  Scales in other areas are oddly shaped and just plain cool looking. 
   The triangular scales begged to be used by Native Americans as arrow heads.  The shape was perfect and the serrated edge made for an ideal cutting edge.  The “stem” at the base needs limited grinding to allow insertion in an arrow shaft.  Native American tribes in the Deep South with access to Alligator gar supplemented their arrowhead with gar scales.  They must have worked well because scales perfect for arrowheads are found in archeological sites away from Alligator gar’s historic distribution.
   If shape was the only factor to consider for making arrowheads they might have floundered as a hunting tip because toughness matters too.  Fortunately Alligator gar scales are made of enamel, not keratin.  Largemouth bass or carp scales are flexible made largely of a substance equivalent to our fingernails. 
   Gar enamel is more similar to our teeth and are the hardest bone made by living creatures.  I learned how hard they are trying to gut an alligator gar with a hatchet.  Sparks flew as metal shavings were freed by the fishes’ armor.
   Alligator gar scales are hard, tough, sharp, and serrated.  They were practically destined for archery hunting.  Not so for other gar.  Long nose, short nose, and spotted gar do not have serrations or any surface texture, and the “stems” are not nearly so dramatic.  They are hard enamel but comparatively thin and translucent and smaller. 

Making the arrow head: 
Gator gar scales are almost perfect as arrow heads.  The stem of the scale, or tang in the world of archery, is perfectly shaped when seen in front view; but is curved in profile.  This requires some grinding of the stem so it seats properly in your arrow shaft.  If you do this work on a grinder, do it so smell is not an issue for you or others – be thoughtful.  Grinding bone smells a lot like burning hair.  The basement is not a good place for this.  Don’t ask me how I know this. 
Once the tang is ground to be parallel with the arrow shaft it is ready for adhesive and wrapping.  Be careful with the tip as it is brittle just like a chert of flint tip would be.  If you want to keep it sharp you will want to be gentle with it. 

Offline aero86

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Re: ‘Gator Gar Scale Tipped Arrows
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2010, 07:10:36 pm »
another good post.  but my question is, how do you kill the stupid things to get their scales?  lol
profsaffel  "clogs like the devil" I always figured Lucifer to be more of a disco kind of guy.

Offline swamp monkey

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Re: ‘Gator Gar Scale Tipped Arrows
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2010, 07:41:03 pm »
perhaps the commercial fishermen keep it a secret?  ;)

States like Alabama and Louisiana are watching their gator gar populations and regulating commercial harvest to ensure longevity of the species and its harvest.  This is encouraging and a sign that the gar’s image as a trash fish is being righted in favor of a more ecologically realistic perspective.  Gator gar eat mostly rough fish or whatever is common in open water, and that happens to rarely be sport fish. 
Commercial fisherman sell the meat from gator gar and also provide the scales to the jewelry trade.  Scales are used for earrings and necklaces.  An internet search should reveal sources for purchase with minimal effort. 
I like the idea of proper resource management and use leading to more proper resource management and use.  In this case managing alligator gar populations and harvest to obtain scales used to tip arrows in order to harvest deer which is part of their management and proper use.  How cool is that? 


Offline aero86

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Re: ‘Gator Gar Scale Tipped Arrows
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2010, 07:45:23 pm »
i wasnt saying i was gonna try to kill one, i was just wonderin how you kill something that has sharp teeth and then sharp teeth-like things on its body!  lol
profsaffel  "clogs like the devil" I always figured Lucifer to be more of a disco kind of guy.

Offline swamp monkey

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Re: ‘Gator Gar Scale Tipped Arrows
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2010, 07:57:22 pm »
yeah it made me laugh when I read it.  Thanks for the sense of humor!

Offline Pat B

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Re: ‘Gator Gar Scale Tipped Arrows
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2010, 09:27:12 pm »
Some of the smaller scales from the belly could be used as micro blades on the arrow shaft behind the head.
Make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes!    Pat Brennan  Brevard, NC

Offline swamp monkey

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Re: ‘Gator Gar Scale Tipped Arrows
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2010, 05:44:47 pm »
how would you secure that?

Offline Bill Skinner

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Re: ‘Gator Gar Scale Tipped Arrows
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2010, 06:30:35 pm »
One of the problems with gar scales is they are so light that shooting one is like shooting a fletched shaft with no point, the arrow flies screwy.  I have used cane shafts with a hardwood foreshaft to put the weight forward for an arrow to fly correctly.  Bill

Offline mullet

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Re: ‘Gator Gar Scale Tipped Arrows
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2010, 06:47:15 pm »
 I've seen some of Claude VanOrder's fish arrows with Gar scale points on them. He uses them wading and the arrows are just under 4' long. He doesn't use an attachment, just grabs the top of the floating string.

 I've also dug up Tarpon scales from a lakeshore near my house mixed in with stone points and flakes. Tarpon scales are about three times bigger and thicker than gars. This lake is at least 85 miles from Port Charlotte on the Gulf coast.
Lakeland, Florida
 If you have to pull the trigger, is it really archery?

Offline Pat B

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Re: ‘Gator Gar Scale Tipped Arrows
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2010, 08:54:05 pm »
Swamp, cut grooves around the shaft and glue in the side blades with pitch glue. James Parker made an antler tip point with 5 stone micro blades around it like the old Satalite broadheads.  He killed a doe shooting her through the shoulder and only dropped 2 micro blades.
Make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes!    Pat Brennan  Brevard, NC

Offline swamp monkey

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Re: ‘Gator Gar Scale Tipped Arrows
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2010, 09:21:51 am »
i would love to see an image of that!

Offline recurve shooter

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Re: ‘Gator Gar Scale Tipped Arrows
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2010, 11:10:41 am »
i always thought those scales had to be good for something. i was thinking helmet, but arrow head works to.  ;D
lets just shoot it

Offline JW_Halverson

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Re: ‘Gator Gar Scale Tipped Arrows
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2010, 12:43:46 pm »
Thanks for posting this, swampmonkey.  Cool arrows, really cool fish.  Maybe they can put them gator gars to work on the stinkin' jumping carp that are invading!  Couple years of eating heartily and the gator gars are gonna be mythically huge! 
Guns have triggers. Bicycles have wheels. Trees and bows have wooden limbs.

Offline 1/2primitive

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Re: ‘Gator Gar Scale Tipped Arrows
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2010, 01:00:50 pm »
Those are neat! I've always wanted to try those for points somtime, just never had the materials. How well do they work?
       Sean
Dallas/Fort Worth Tx.

Offline swamp monkey

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Re: ‘Gator Gar Scale Tipped Arrows
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2010, 08:41:19 am »
I tend not to shoot them much because of how fragile the extreme tip is.  I hate braking a tip even though we are talking about a sixteenth of an inch.  kinda picky I suppose.  But when I have shot them they did just fine.  All that I shot had foreshafts of hardwood.