A River Otter Enjoying My Dock

There’s been a critter on out dock at night. On a regular basis some varmint climbs up the stairs that lead into the water, eats, poops and leaves. We’d guessed it was a river otter.

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This Otter seems to like our deck. He eats a lot of crabs here

Whenever we put the trail cam on the dock, there was never any evidence that anyone visited during the night. Until last night.

Also a great spot for a nap

Here’s a river otter enjoying our dock where it ate a crab, lounged, then left a calling card before sliding back into the water.

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Of course, after a meal and a nap, a little something left behind for me to clean up

Paddling Mill Creek

Aside from archery and triathlon, Brenda and I do a lot of kayaking and stand up paddle boarding. Recently we paddled a water trail in Perquimans County North Carolina – Mill Creek.

Brenda had found this trail online and we’d been wanting to give it a try. Its not long, only about 4 miles out and back. But, the trail ends in a Cypress Swamp and we thought that would be pretty cool.

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Paddling Mill Creek

We headed to the put in point after morning archery practice. The online information indicated that the place to begin is at Larry’s Drive in Hertford, NC. When we arrived we noticed that large cut trees had been placed to they blocked the ramp to enter the Perquimans River, where we’d planned to start.

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Larry’s Drive In

The information about where to put in the kayaks said to park at Larry’s Drive In and leave from there.  It looked like Larry or someone had intentionally blocked the access to the river.  We considered looking for another way to get into the water.  Our options weren’t good.

I decided, at Brenda’s insistence, to go inside Larry’s and ask about the blocked ramp. Larry’s somewhat reminded me of the biker club portrayed in the movie “Wild Hogs.”

Once inside, the place reminded me a bit more of a rough diner – it wasn’t.  The folks were nice and I was welcomed to use their landing to put our kayaks in the river. The food smelled really good. I didn’t place an order, we had a kayak trip to start.

The paddle wasn’t long, four miles round trip.  It was, however, very nice. The current was rather fast and paddling against it was work.  The creek became quite narrow and ended in a cypress swamp.  One of the more spectular paddles in this part of Perquimans County.

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Entering a Cypress Swamp

Paddling back we were going with the current and returned to the put in ten minutes faster than it took to reach the turn around point.  It was a trip worth the effort – as most seem to be.  Another nice day on the water.

Shooting in Brevard

Being on vacation doesn’t preclude archery from the fun things to do while on vacation. For this leg of the trip, the Brevard – western NC – stay, I brought several toys with which to play including my archery ‘toys’.  Even though I will not be able to compete in a tournament on this trip, I did get to shoot.

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Brevard is known for its waterfalls

With me I brought my bow and the five arrows I own that can be currently used for shooting. I also brought a block target that can only be shot using the smaller sides. The large sides barely slow down an arrow.

In Brevard the canopy of leaves that surround the property we’ve rented makes judging yardage a new game. Ambient light is minimal and there isn’t level ground to be found. On the east coast of the state, my home,  I shoot on level ground in very bright light toward shadows, or at brightly illuminated targets, or from shadow to shadow. In the woods here it is just dark or darker and hilly.

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Miss a target in this jungle and forget about finding the arrow

Having only 5 arrows and a small target, considering the light and hills, I was very conservative while practicing. I used one arrow only, shot for the middle of the target, and limited my distance to 40 yards.

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At 35 yards, this is a tough shot at a small target. Miss and goodbye arrow. (The target is in the center of this picture)

The result was I didn’t lose or break the arrow. I got some decent practice in lighting to which I am unaccustomed and gave myself an hour* each day to get a feel for hilly terrain. One nice thing about a small target is that it’s easy to move around.(*I am on vacation, so I limited my practice time to an hour per day. )

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Here’s a closer look at the target and what’s behind it.

The other toys that will be used on this trip, bikes, kayaks, and running gear have yet to make it into the game.

Stinking up the range

When Brenda and I were first married she did my laundry. That lasted about 5 years when I offered to wash my own dirty clothes. The offer wasn’t because I am such a nice guy and wanted to do my part of the domestic chores; she kept losing my socks.   In the thirty years since, when I’ve washed and dried my clothes I’ve never lost a sock. However, there are other laundry matters where I have failed. One of my washing and drying short falls became apparent this past weekend shooting at the Lenoir County Archers ASA Qualifying 3D competition.

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Even though we got on the course early, it was already backed up

I have a simple policy regarding laundry. Essentially, if it fits in the washer the requirements for a load of clothes is complete. I do not raise any issue of prejudice based on color. Dark and light apparel are washed together. All receive the same treatment, cold water only, detergent nearest to reach, and never any bleach. For 30 years, this approach has served me with only an occasionally noticeable flaw. That flaw is I sometimes forget I’ve put clothes in the washer.

For example, on Thursday I may discover my clothes are in the washer. Then, I can’t remember for certain when I washed them. They get a sniff test and if the wad of nearly dry clothes doesn’t smell sour, they’re probably good for the dryer. Even a minor sour smell can be fluffed out by a dryer.

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We had some good shots, 2 twelves and 2 tens on this one.

In fact, the dryer has salvaged many loads of slightly off sniff clothes. When the drying is done the smell is most of the time barely noticeable. In the winter months any lingering foul aroma is not a serious problem. In the hot humid summer days of the South, perspiration is a catalyst for throwing off the dryer embedded stench. That was exactly my problem yesterday.

The t-shirt I’d worn for shoot was one that had sat in the washer for an amount of time that was hard to determine. However, it passed, just by a small margin, the sniff test and was dried along with all the other contents from the washer. After drying, all the clothes, t-shirt included, seemed okay, again by a slight margin.

The problem on the range became noticeable after only 3 targets. It was very hot and humid day. I was sweating like the pig that knows it’s dinner. At the third stake I began to notice the earlier olfactory mistake in judgment.

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There is a standing black bear at the end of this lane. We faced some long shots on this range. I guessed this at 47 yards for a 10.
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Finally on the road to home

Had I been alone I wouldn’t have been too concerned. But, people surrounded me. When saying hello and shaking hands I’d lean into the hand extension stretching my arm and keeping my shirt and reek as far back from the unsuspecting nose distal to the approaching hand. While waiting for a stake to clear I’d keep my distance from the other people in my group.

By the time we reached the mid-point of the range the fog around me was so thick I considered leaving for the sake of the others. Now, no one said a word. Heck, no one else may have noticed. To be fair someone in a nearby group, it was crowded on the range and there was little to no wind, had what appeared to be a nonstop gastrointestinal disruption that at times was audible. In that matter, it wasn’t my concern and my funk seemed the more offensive.

Despite the concern over my aromatic malfeasance I did find moments to enjoy the course – one of the most challenging I’d shot. Even though I’d previously qualified for the ASA State Championships wanted to try for a different division. I don’t know the results, yet, as soon as we shot the final target I turned in my scorecard and high tailed it home for another shower and change of clothes.

Back in Western Pennsylvania

We’re back in Pennsylvania for a week. We lived here, in Murrysville just east of Pittsburgh, for nearly five years. Our youngest daughter, Candace attended Chatham College in Pittsburgh where she earned her graduate and undergraduate degrees. While here she met her future husband and together they’ve given us three grandchildren, the most recent arrival bringing us back to the Keystone State.

On this trip we rented a house in West Middletown. The property is over 150 years old and where it lacks modern comforts it has a lot of basic charm. Plus, it accepts dogs.

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Naturally I brought my archery and running gear. Once we arrived at the rental property I regretted not bringing a bicycle. The roads, aside from West Middletown’s “Main Street”, were wide open, held limited traffic and while great for running would have been perfect for cycling. By that, I mean I could have covered more ground on a bike and seen more of the landscapes.

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Getting outdoors in western Pennsylvania has always, in my experience, been great. The terrain is quite different from coastal North Carolina. The Allegheny Mountains make running (and cycling) a challenge but it’s altogether worth the effort. A bonus is that I’ve found a nice place to practice archery and will be headed there soon.

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Shooting in Toccoa, Georgia

When I travel for reasons that aren’t primarily related to competitive shooting I look for a tournament that can be tied to the trip. This trip to Georgia was for my oldest grandson’s birthday. Turning 5 he’ll point out that he’s no longer a little kid. I’d make plans to enjoy a birthday party and find a shoot.

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Sean in control of his celebration

In Georgia, aside from cake, ice cream and presents there was boating, fishing, trail riding by mountain bike and ATV, and a lot of archery. It’s great shooting there. The range I’ve set-up is surrounded by trees and forest and has very little wind. Back in North Carolina there’s wind everyday – the price paid for living on the coast.

Before going back to my home state I asked around in search of a 3D tournament on March 26th. Big John Chandler came through recommending a contest only 63 miles away from the lake house in Tignall. The 3D shoot was being put on by the “Soul Hunters”.

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“Big John” is a man that can be relied upon for help

I’ve competed in a number of “Soul Hunter” events in Elizabeth City and thought “Soul Hunters” was some sort of religious franchise. I learned from Wolfie Hughes that he’d come up with the name “Soul Hunters” and the group in Elizabeth City had asked if they too might use it.

Wolfie, at first glance, doesn’t come across as a ‘softie’. But, talking with the man I quickly learned that his manly-man appearance covers a big heart. He’s sincere about what his group is doing and agreed to share the name “Soul Hunters” with the group in North Carolina.

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Wolfie Hughes – has a heart of gold

I’d spoken with Wolfie by phone prior to making the trip to Georgia to make certain that their 3D event was on and to get directions. The directions were a bit cryptic but after a couple of driving misses I made it to the range.

The group in Georgia rents space from the Lake Russell Wildlife Management to set-up their range and run their shoot. The range is breathtakingly beautiful. The course was in full spring foliage and far from flat. On the coast where I shoot a lot it’s nearly exclusively flat. Here everything was up or downhill. Georgia is one of those states that include an Atlantic Coast line, mountains in the north, and flat land in the middle. North Carolina is similar but I’ve yet to make a shoot on the western hilly part of that state.

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Great location for a 3D shoot

After I arrived at the event and paid my registration fee I took several warm-up shots while doing what I always do – hunt for a party of shooters I can join. Today, that wasn’t really necessary. Before I could even ask, Dwayne and Patti invited me to shoot with them.

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Dwayne and Patti made be feel as if I’d known them for decades

Both are good archers and preparing for upcoming ASA events in Alabama. Dwayne works for Georgia Power and Patti is a chiropractor and a former exercise physiologist. She noticed my Ironman tattoo and that started an interesting conversation.

It turned out that Patti had also done an Ironman as well as adventure racing. She did endurance sports until she broke her knee. Today she focuses on archery.

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The three of us, Patti, Dwayne and I, had many tight groups .

I really enjoy traveling around and meeting other athletes. In 3D archery there’s time to talk between stakes. During indoor events, talking is a bit too distracting for me. But, outside in the woods, the pace is more relaxed. The folks I met in Toccoa at this tournament were welcoming as are most native Georgians.

I enjoy shooting everywhere I compete. But, I really love coming home to shoot. Being back in Georgia is different than going to others states. There’s a feeling I get when I’m home, I suppose I’ve got red clay in my blood. No matter what, it was great to finish this trip with an archery tournament in Georgia.

 

 

Pitt County Wildlife Club’s March 3D Tournament

Sunday, March 15th, was another wonderful day spent shooting outside. The Pitt County Wildlife Club held a 3-D Tournament on their range near Farmville, NC. The course was well manicured and the targets were a challenge. During this adventure, while warming up, I was invited to shoot with a father and son team.

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Pitt County Wildlife Club

Phillip, the father, is a seasoned archer who has competed on the ASA Pro-Am Tour. He says, “Having a family and work made him too busy to compete” and now he shoots for fun. He also coaches his son, Hunter, a 13-year-old, who aside from archery is active in football and baseball. Phillip has two other children, daughters, both in college on academic and athlete scholarships. Hunter, tall for 13, could have a promising future in sports.

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Phillip and Hunter

At the first two stakes there was a mob of archers. It was clear the horde was going to be slow so we decided to jump ahead to stake 3. From there forward it was smooth sailing. We’d pick up targets 1 and 2 on the return trip.

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The Tar River

The 3D range ran parallel with Tar River, which presented spectacular scenery. Before long we added a fourth to our group, Lena a traditional archer from Poland. She shot with us until regrouping with another traditional archer and his family.

Our team of three wasted no time on the range. Although we’d had a late start we completed the 20 targets in less than 2 hours. Throughout the event I was entertained listening to Hunter. He’s huge for 13 but the conversation remained that of a youngster. His optimistic anticipation of, “I hope that they have that polar bear again, they had one last year,” was amusing. And when a foam turkey was position with its head looking away from the stake he couldn’t help but state, “Look, we have to shoot that turkey in the butt!” “Have you ever seen a turkey you have to shoot in the butt?” It was the ‘butt-shot’ that any 13-year-old boy would find humorous no matter his physical size. (Actually, 60-year boys find it funny, too.)

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Farm land on the drive home

I  enjoyed shooting with Phillip and Hunter. Phillip, a friendly guy, seems like a great dad and Hunter is a respectful and courteous young man. I’ve always thought you can measure the results of parenting through the actions of children. While not trying to be judgmental, I’d say Phillip is doing an excellent job.

It was another memorable competition. The range is located in a beautiful spot of eastern North Carolina. Like many other clubs where I’ve competed I’ll look forward to another trip to the Pitt County Wildlife Club.

Horse Collars

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One of my practice targets here in Georgia

This year, at least for the first eight months, my competitive events range the east coast from Florida to New York. Traveling I frequently visit wonderful places. Yesterday, I stopped in Carlton, GA. and Comer, GA adding two more scenic side trips to this tournament expedition.

Because I am primarily here to shoot, on non-competitive days I practice in the morning and afternoon. Wednesday is typically my longest practice and I’ll shoot for hours during the two sessions. Thursday I begin tapering for the weekend’s competition. After the morning practice on Thursday, Brenda, Ray, her father, and I took an excursion further into northeast Georgia.

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Jimmy, Owner at “Neat Pieces” Antiques in Carlton, GA

In Carlton there is an antique shop, “Neat Pieces”  Brenda had wanted to visit. There we spent an hour or so digging and found a few treasures. She collected a several old bottles and I bought two vintage horse collars. The leather horse collars were gray with dirt and filth. Later, a few hours of cleaning and polishing would have them looking fairly decent.

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Vintage horse collars (after cleaning and polishing)

Leaving Carlton, we loaded our treasures and drove to the covered bridge at Watson Mill in Comer. It has been raining a lot here, so the river was up. The covered bridge was built 130 years ago and later restored in 1973.   Standing near the river, I wished I had one of my kayaks with me.

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Watson Mill Bridge

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Traveling around the US and competing in sports is a great way to earn one’s living.  It gives me time to meet more people and make friends. It also allows me to find adventure and enjoy America.

 

Another cold and wet day in Georgia

It is cold here in Tignall, GA. Currently, it is 37°F (3°C) and sleeting. This weekend I’ve made plans to run a race on Saturday and compete in a 3D tournament on Sunday. The weekend weather forecast is for more cold and rain on both days.

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View from the deck.

In North Carolina, over in Raleigh, next weekend is the Dixie Classic 3D competition. I considered driving back to NC to compete in the Classic. Checking the weather at our place in Hertford, it is currently 27°F (-3°C) and snowing.

Maryland is colder. In Easton, the conditions are 19°F (-7°C), but it is sunny. Sunny or not, 19°F is too cold to really enjoy hours of outdoor archery practice – at least for me. You can bet I am not driving back to Maryland.

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Deck range showing the recent repair resulting from a pine tree mishap

I’ll stay put in Georgia and consider driving to Savannah. It is 42°F (6°C) there, but it’s raining. While I ponder driving on frozen roads, I can grab a bow and shoot it on the deck.

The deck provides a 15 yard covered range for practice. I can shoot awhile; go back into the house, thaw, and repeat the process. When the sleet and rain eases I’ll take a mountain bike out for a ride. The trails though woods won’t be slippery.

Sitting inside isn’t a lot of fun. I’ prefer being outside, even if for short excursions. Cold and wet is not ideal, but there are ways with which it can be dealt. For now, I need to deal.