Playing and Practice on the Wild Side

Sunrise on the river

The past few days have been a bustle of cycling, running and shooting. The weather, despite ever-present wind, has been excellent. Wind impedes cycling in one direction and then repeats the trick in the reverse direction. You’d think there would be a tailwind. Running with the wind in your face may slow faster runners down a tad. A slower paced runner seems unaffected by an equivalent blowing resistance. The leaves that now cover trees suggests the wind across the 3D and the 50-meter range will be less pronounced. Outdoors here means, for most days, playing in the wind.

“Boat Ramp Road” is a spot to pause during a ride. The title of this road hopefully was not a mental taxation for the creators.

Yesterday, Brenda and I planned to head out in the boat for a cruise between archery practices. Just as we walked out to the dock we observed the waves picking up. Before we got the boat off the lift there were white caps across the water’s surface. Cursing in a Carolina Skill over a river capped in white is a rough trip. We postponed that adventure.

Our adventure may be have been put on hold but there is a bass tournament underway in the Little River where we live. We watched a boatload of anglers, its passengers slamming across the water, heading out for more casting. They bounced along for about 500 yards before getting smart, or battered the right amount for common sense to emerge, and returned to port.

This little fella was enjoying the warm afternoon

Shooting has been just fine in the spring woods. The first few 3D targets are a bit exposed to wind but certainly not like they were in the leafless months. The main drawbacks this time of the year are snakes and mosquitos.

This is why I was sweeping leaves that had gathered under an outside storage area

Our area of the coast is swampy. Ideal for both the problems: snakes and mosquitos. There is a third annoyance, poison ivy, which a watchful eye can avoid.

Snakes mostly try to evade River, my snake hunting lab, and me. River joins me in the woods and is vigilant in her sniffing for the slithering outlaws. She’s pretty good at finding snakes. She did walk right past a copperhead. I stopped as we approached it seeing it coiled to strike.   Its hostility terminated with a lead induced amputation its head.

Copperheads are nice looking snakes. But, they will bite you which leads to no good.

Most of the snakes we meet aren’t a problem and prefer to let us alone. In that respect, we leave them alone as well, taking a live and let live stance on the encounter. The snakes that care little for avoidance are either poisonous or don’t give way because they’re so large they think nobody will mess with them. We don’t mess with the non-poisonous variety of serpent irrespective of it size. Still there are plenty of the lethal reptiles to warrant keeping eyes constantly examining the ground. There is no way a sane person would head back to those boggy ranges without snake boots.

This big ole snake could have cared less that I was watching

Already the swamp is minus one copperhead and three water moccasins. One of the chunky vipers escaped after I shot at it with my Ruger 380 and missed. I actually missed it twice. My neighbor, Jimmy, who is competitive with a pistol, would not have missed. He shots them with a little 22. I need a modest bit more lead to compensate my non-archery aim. Even so there’s that one that got away despite the larger caliber projectile. As my pistol friend said, “You’ll see him, again.”

Keeping an eye to the ground uncovers all sorts of critters
Typically how things are when walking up on legless trouble

I could probably do as good hitting snakes with an arrow as with a bullet should the circumstance arise. The operative adverb being probably and thus far there’s been no opportunity for an archer’s test. I’ve yet to stroll up on a snake when I wasn’t walking to pull arrows.

Look over every log before putting a foot down

A firearm does make me feel a bit more certain as opposed to shooting an arrow angled down at close range. In addition, I would rather not fire arrows that will, whether hitting the mark of not, end up in stuck in the ground.

Care is taken not to step on these little ones

Mosquitos, those blood-sucking pests, are swarming in clouds so thick that occasionally I have to letdown on a shot to swat them away to see. Yes, I have an operating Thermacell hanging on my quiver’s belt and am drenched with bug spray when I’m shooting in this swamp. Without those chemicals surrounding me in a cloud and soaked onto my skin there is a chance the bugs would harvest me whole.

Knee high Swiftwick sports compression socks are perfect for 17-inch snake boots

Despite the somewhat primitive environment where I practice it is fun to be outdoors in the wooded wetland. You just have to be careful where you step, be willing to reek of bug spray, and watch where you squat.