Arrowhead enthusiast among Indianapolis show exhibitors


INDIANAPOLIS — Most of the time, if a guy is accused of being a Neanderthal, it is not a compliment.

But no one is prouder of his Stone Age connections than David Meinders, who if he could would travel back in time a few million years.

Meinders is from Illinois, temporarily since he is planning on moving, but recently, he spent several days in Indiana holding down a booth at the gargantuan Indianapolis Boat, Sport and Travel Show.

There were more than 500 exhibitors present in late February, but Meinders stood out as someone who carves his own stone arrow tips in emulation of primitive man. While he hunts deer with his handiwork, he does imagine what it would have been like to stalk woolly mammoths and sabre-tooth tigers with a bow and arrow.

Meinders, who is developing the modern informational tool of a website, operates a company called Stone Age Outdoors. He makes and sells arrowheads as well as arrows with feathers that he paints. And he blames this rare passion on a third grade teacher.

“The teacher brought in some stone arrowheads,” said Meinders, who is now 55, and still remembers how examining them influenced him.

Bow hunters make up a small percentage of hunters across Indiana and the whole country, taking most of the annual deer harvest (and other species) with firearms.

Of those who focus on bow hunting, some wield crossbows, others use compound bows and others pull back on recurve bows. Longbows, or traditional bows, were used across cultures for hunting and self-defense for hundreds of years or longer.

Traditional bows are usually made of wood and are simply constructed. They also are rarely used in the 2020s. Hunters who employ the simplest of bows might be interested in using the simplest of arrowheads. Those could be Meinders’ customers.

Meinders began bow hunting when he was about 17, and about 17 years ago, he shifted his focus to hunting with his stone tips on his arrows at a time when most tips are metal.

“I have a lot of people say, ‘That’s so cool,’” Meinders said. “But it’s a hard sell.”

Manufacturers of hunting equipment are not focused on churning out products that take people back in time. When they make new items for the market, the goal is to attract buyers by informing them the new equipment should help hunters shoot straighter and make kill shots from farther away.

Meinders said the public relations from those companies overwhelms his lower-key salesmanship relating to pre-history.

“They think it’s not as good as what we have today,” Meinders said of stone arrowheads and simple bows and arrows.

He thinks it’s all in the hands of the archer.

“It’s a matter of where you hit the deer,” he said.

Meinders’ points are small, and he even had a dishfull on display, designed to entice the curious or even convince a passerby to purchase such a souvenir tip for $2.

David Walters of Greencastle was on the prowl at the show, and he was intrigued. A bow hunter of deer and elk, he examined Meinders’ Stone Age stuff, becoming more interested by the moment and indeed saying, “That would be cool” to hunt with that utensil. “I’ll try.”

Walters forked over $20 for a handmade arrow tip.

Meinders said it takes a certain kind of stone to shape into the tips. It is incorrect to assume walking out the front door and plucking a rock off the street means the find will have the appropriate properties for carving.

Some of Meinders’ stone originates in Texas, and some comes from Iowa. He said he has accrued a following at an Iowa outdoors show, and some of his stone is called “Burlington Chert,” which is from that state and others in the Midwest.

“You can’t just pick up any rock and make it work,” he said.

A family of three from Yorktown paused to review the display. Dad Josh Baker said, “I’m very much a nostalgic kind of person.”

His 8-year-old son, Memphis, is already an avid outdoorsman with his own trapline and had some money to spend after trapping rabbits, coyotes and raccoons. He studied the $2 dish but then sprung for a brightly colored $12 arrow with stone tip and painted feathers that Meinders often supplies to the Boy Scouts.

While Memphis was paying, Meinders turned the discussion to one of his selling points — right up Josh Baker’s alley.

“Go hunting like your grandpa,” Meinders said.

Or your great-great-great-grandpa times 20.

For Meinders and the select few, the Stone Age beckons and those long extinct animals heard about only in school. Meinders would like to know if those stone-tipped arrows were able to fell the toughest mammals of them all.

“I always do think of those primitive people and how did they bring down a mastodon,” Meinders said. “If they ever make a time machine, I’ll be the first in line.”

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