The Gunther style arrowhead is just one of several varieties of points used by the Northwestern tribes over the centuries since the bow and arrow were introduced some 1,500 years ago. Throughout eastern and western Oregon, we find these “gem” arrowheads made from colorful varieties of quartz such as agate, jasper and petrified wood, as well as the volcanic materials such as basalt and obsidian. Though we call them “bird points” these arrowheads were used to take deer, even elk. The size of many Gunther type arrowheads is from 3/4″ to 1-1/2″ in length, and from 1/2″ to 3/4″ wide.
The Gunther arrowheads feature deep base notches which in turn create wickedly effective barbs. In order to make the deep notches extending up from the base of the Gunther point, these arrowheads were made fairly wide compared to their length. This leaves enough stone to allow for the high stress pressure work of creating the deep notches and attempts to give the resulting barbs enough strength to serve the purposes for which they were made.
Many were used along the Columbia, Willamette, Rogue and other rivers of the Northwest, to hunt water fowl or even to harpoon large fish, and others were used to take deer, elk, and other land animals throughout the region. The small, serrated Wintu point style from California is very similar to the serrated Gunther points from the Mount Shasta area in northern California.
Found across northern California, western and central Oregon, and southern Washington along the Columbia River gorge, there are several recognized varieties of Gunther arrowheads. These dramatically designed small arrowheads are sometimes said to be barbed to serve as harpoon-like arrows for hunting large fish, yet many have also been found in the forested mountain and foothill areas where they were used effectively in hunting large and small game animals, too.
The serrations along the blade of the Gunther points exhibit a greater degree of discipline and craftsmanship than some other Northwest arrowheads, such as the Calapooya points, many of which seem to be almost wildly serrated. Either way, the serrations serve as effective cutting devices upon the arrowhead’s impact into a game target, and also serve as a self-sharpening feature for the arrowhead. With its needle point and serrated edges, the Gunther point is both dangerous and delicate.