Learning the art of the crossbow in Yunnan
I saw my first crossbow on the shoulder of a middle-aged Akha man in Saen Charoen Mai, northern Thailand, way back in 1988, as he sauntered down a trail into the thick jungle above the village. I didn't pay him much mind. Everybody I knew there then used traps and long-barreled rifles to hunt, which was anyway already much less often than when they were all boys. Many men still had crossbows, but mounted them on interior walls of houses and didn't use them anymore. And as I never again witnessed somebody carrying a crossbow into the forest, I lost interest.
After a few years even the traps disappeared from the jungle, at least the ones for medium-sized mammals, which were also former crossbow targets. Rare was the Akha hunter successful enough to bring home a wildcat, bamboo gopher, civet, pangolin or even squirrel, much less a boar or a barking deer. The animals are now so rare that Akha men don't even go looking for them anymore. In fact, the hunting tradition everywhere has been largely reduced to trapping or shooting small birds and an occasional squirrel.