Feathers used for fletching.

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Honourius III
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Feathers used for fletching.

Post by Honourius III »

Traditionally we speak of the Archers using Goose feathers for fletching their arrows, and quite rightly so. Other feathers we know used were, Swan, Peacock and Crane. But, and this is my question, at that time the Great Bustard was quite common and would have been used for food. Does anyone know if the primary feathers of the Bustard were used? They certainly seem to be good to me, and I cant see any reason why Heron could not have been used also.

Annie the Arrow
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Re: Feathers used for fletching.

Post by Annie the Arrow »

Goose would have been the most commonly available, but I would imagine they would have used anything, shame I cant
"For he(the bow), any old stick will do. But arrow will get deer”.
Ishi, last of the Yaqui Amerindians of California

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Brother Ranulf
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Re: Feathers used for fletching.

Post by Brother Ranulf »

We often forget that geese were kept as domesticated poultry for their eggs, often in large numbers, on every manor across the country. It is fact that the pterylae (feather-growing zones in the skin) can regenerate replacement feathers if the base of the old feather is left in place - so it is possible to clip the pinion feathers of a goose for use in fletching without harming the bird in any way. Feathers are also moulted naturally, as you will know if you have ever visited a swannery.

Why go out into a cold, miserable, bleak moorland in the hope of being able to net or shoot a Bustard when you can source huge numbers of goose feathers at no effort at home?
Brother Ranulf

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Re: Feathers used for fletching.

Post by Will.S »

No idea where I heard this, but something in the back of my memory is telling me that there was a royal decree that farmers retained the first 3 flight feathers from each wing of his geese before market day or something to that extent.

What I do know is that if you pick the right month (this one and the one just gone) you can go anywhere with geese and collect a lot of primaries and secondary primaries with no hassle at all. I headed over to my local lake last month to seed if I could find any, and went home with over 450 goose feathers. Imagine if you had a farm full of them - you'd certainly never need to muck about picking up random bird feathers. Don't forget you also have to use only flight feathers from either left or right wing with a strong grease line for truly effective arrows which narrows the viable number considerably.

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