Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Phallanges and Fishhooks
Deer and elk are classified as ungulates, or hoofed animals. Their feet are actually two elongated toes. In the leg are two sets of phallanges that come off the lower leg bone and attach to small bones inside the hooves. These phallange bones have been used for beads, ceremonial rattles, small handles for stone blades, and fishhooks. The upper picture shows kind of a breakdown of the bones in a lower leg of a deer. The lower photo shows some of the reduction process for making a fishhook from the phallange. Sometimes I will soak the bone a day or so to soften the outer layer. Using a stone flake you score around the bone length-wise and carefully split it in half. It is basically hollow with marrow inside. Using a stone drill, I will then start to open up the middle portion of the phallange by boring holes in it. The tedious part is carefully grinding the excess away on an abrasive rock and shaving smooth the bone into shape with a stone flake. In this way I have the potential to make two hooks from one bone. I have heard that another way to appoach this is to simply grind both sides down on a sanding stone till you expose the hollow center, then form it into a hook. Truthfully, I have never been successful fishing with these bone hooks yet, but several of my friends, who are into primitive skills, have caught fish and bullfrogs...with great patience and perseverence using bone hooks.