Archives for category: archery

Nighttime in the forests of Taiwan is velvety dark. Mysterious cries float through the leaves and massive tree trunks. A myriad of frogs, insects, and night birds croak, sing, and chirp. Giant flying squirrels cheep to each other in the canopy. And then you hear it: A sharp, echoing bark! Is it a dog?

Barking Deer in Fushan Forest

A tiny doe licking her fur to complete her evening grooming routine.

No, it’s Taiwan’s barking deer — English call them muntjac (latin name, muntiacus reevesi). These terrier sized deer have little antlers and fangs, apparently for fighting to maintain territory. The image above was taken by me in Fushan Experimental Forest; the image below is from mammals.biodiversityireland.ie.

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Male showing antlers and canine teeth.

These deer, called Shan Xiang in Mandarin, used to be favored prey of Taiwan’s indigenous hunters who used bow and arrow, and nets. Japanese logging at the turn of the century, farming, and development have reduced the forest-meadow interface that these animals prefer. They are protected now.

But the deer could be making a comeback. During my travels I heard them barking in several nighttime forests and as you can see above, I spotted little does grazing and grooming in the evening and morning. Also, indigenous farmers mentioned that Shan Xiang will sneak into gardens that are located near forest edges. I hope this charming Taiwanese animal continues to survive and thrive!

Well, I’ve arrived in a small village on Taiwan’s southeast coast. This is one of my research sites (yes, I’m here to do anthropological work in addition to eating amazing food and admiring cats and flowers!) It’s absolutely beautiful here.

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Coconut palms dance wildly in the wind, making a delightful clacking noise. I’m standing with the sea at my back and the mountains right in front.

Yesterday I was thrilled to meet a man who knows how to make and shoot traditional indigenous bows and arrows. Mr. Gao, a retired tribal policeman, is of Amis ancestry and has collaborated with a man from the Truku tribe just north of here to re-create his traditional weaponry.

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Mr. Gao stringing a small bow used for rabbit-sized game. The young man in the white shirt was my ‘shooting coach’.

The bows are simple (e.g., not re-curved or compound), and their length and power is related to the prey targeted: big bows for deer, smaller ones for rabbits. With humor and grace Mr. Gao and his family offered to let me do a little shooting. Take up the arrow, nock it, raise to the target, pull the arrow to the crease between your cheek and nose, and let go. Sounds easy, right? I hit the board six times out of 20, but never the actual target, and my right shoulder was aching by the last shot!

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A toxophilist’s delight: traditional bows in all stages of manufacture in Mr. Gao’s workshop.

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In this scene from Seediq Bale: Warriors of the Rainbow, tribal warriors with arrows on the nock are hunting for an enemy. This scene from the film directed by a film by Wei Te-Sheng can be found at \\http://www.coveringmedia.com/movie/2012/04/warriors-of-the-rainbow-seediq-bale.html