“There Are No Water Moccasins in North Carolina”

I have been busy. So busy there’s been limited time to write much for this website. The tight schedule isn’t going to ease off anytime soon. Until then I’ll try to post stories you might find interesting.

If you’ve been a reader you know not 100% of my articles are specific to archery. This is one of those articles. This one has to do with a puffed up fisherman that knows it all.

Now being a know-it-all is good if the claim to knowledge is true. I’ve known a few real know-it-alls. They were truly remarkably brilliant. These (three people) weren’t just wizards in math and science, these three had common sense and could do anything. Seriously, anyone one of them could talk about science, history, and current events, renovate a house or clean a deer.

The particular false know-it-all knew a lot of stuff much that he shared during a striper-fishing trip. He was extremely confident in all proclamations and orations. It didn’t take long until his lectures had the same impact that a freshman chemistry professor has while in front of a white board – he was making me sleepy. In fact, and in addition to absolutely zero fish in the boat other than bait, I stretched out across the bow of the boat for a nap.

In turn, the angler-lecturer on board increased his volume so that I might not miss important or key points. A series of facts he began disseminating while I tried to drift away dealt with US Geography and snakes.

Near Elizabeth City, NC

Among this gospel is that, “There are no water moccasins in North Carolina.” This piqued my retort button. Disagreeing with his claim I pointed out that I’d had encounters with a good many water moccasins in North Carolina.

Near Hertford, NC (Photo provided by Jimmy C my neighbor in NC)

His response was to assure me that I had not actually crossed paths with a water moccasin in North Carolina. To be sure, those snakes had been harmless water snakes.

One of those harmless NC water snakes eating a dove ((Photo provided by Jimmy C my neighbor in NC) (For folks without a sense of humor – this is not a brown water snake)
For those that don’t know

The way I see things is that it takes two people to argue. If the fellow with all the knowledge believes there are no water moccasins north of South of the Border on I-95 who was I to debate the matter. However, I did recommend that should he ever be in North Carolina and run up on one of those harmless water snakes he should either get away or shoot it.

 

Getting into the 3D of Things

The range is up. It is raining. I need to practice 3D.

This coyote is fun. The shot looks longer than it was, 38 yards.
Yep, that javelina is in that hole about 40 yards away

When rain seems to have stopped, I head out to practice. Twenty shots later it begins to rain. I head back indoors. Two hundred yards pass along the walk to cover and the rain stops. I turn around, shoot 10 arrows and it starts to rain, again. I head back, go 200 yards, and the rain stops. I gave up stayed outside and got wet.

Zoomed in a bit so you can see the target
Worst shot of the day. I thought I’d managed a center 12. Nope, that’s an 8.

Not everyday has been so much of a weather challenge. Yesterday was pretty good. It was cold and windy. Out in the woods the wind is subdued a tad. My main concern was a limb breaking free and landing on my head. No limb crashed onto my skull.

This is a tough turkey

Practice was by design interesting. Shooting the same targets day in and day out, you need to find training sessions to keep things interesting. This is especially true when you train alone.

Practice on this little target is always, shoot a center 12 and a 14. Don’t move on until the 12 and 14 are shot in sequence.

This day’s training was: the first arrow at an unknown yardage for scoring followed by four others for yardage training. The shortest distance was 18 yards (rabbit) and the longest was 45 yards (deer, bear, and mountain lion.)

This is only 27 yards, but the lane is cleared so the target can be worked out to 50 yards.

3D practice, time per arrow, is slower that 18-meters. Generally, you walk further which slows things down. Plus, it takes a little longer to judge yardage. I don’t find one disciple, 18-meter, 3D or 50-meter, more fun than the other. They are all about the same to me. The major difference is it rarely rains indoors.

This poor ole bear is beginning to wear out in the center.

Shooting 3D for the first time in a while.

Eighteen meters has been my focus for the past eight months. My goal was to score two day total of 1160 at the USA Archery Indoor Nationals.  Then to score a 600 with 110 Xs at the NFAA National Indoor Championship in Cincinnati.  By early December of 2017 I was feeling fairly confident that I’d come close or exceed those marks.

In the meantime, we’d built a new house. The foul fall and winter weather delayed the house’s completion.  This ended up generating a 580-mile move right on top of the end game for my eight months of practice.  By February of 2018 I was scoring lower than February of 2017.  It wasn’t just the move; it was a move, being unable to move right into the new property, then a solid month after the move in to complete construction.

This bear has one of the two ‘wide’ lanes and can be targeted out to 60 yards
She’s in a congested area and can be out up to 40 yards
The pine trees that line this shooting lane narrow as the distance increases. It’s a pretty cool shot the further back you get.

You’d think we move into a new ready to go house and we would have if the builder had been cooperative. He wouldn’t allow refinements to his building to occur until we’d closed on the property. As such, after closing, closets had to be redone, fencing put up, sheds constructed, sod to be installed and land cleared.  Oh, there was plenty of time to have had this done before closing but it wasn’t allowed.  This meant little to no archery practice in the month before the main indoor events for 2018.  I scored fewer point than usual and seemed to find a solid position in second place everywhere other than the NFAA Sectional where I earned a tight 4th and the NFAA Nationals in Cincinnati.

This is an interesting shot.

I couldn’t decide if the trip from Georgia to Ohio was worth the investment considering the way I’d been shooting. By the time I made the decision to go for the experience I realized I’d let time get away from me and it was too late to make the drive.

On a brighter note I did get my 3D range up on the 3.25 acre plot behind our house selected for the targets. It isn’t a huge plot of land but it is idea for 20 targets.  I only have 12, but 8 more will fit nicely when I get them.

I am pleased, so far, with how the foam animals are arranged. The are no “give me” shots and all targets can be shot to at least a maximum of 40 yards with other out to sixty.  Sixty yards is more than I need other than for field archery.

Another wide lane for long shots without worrying about overhanging limbs

Last week was the first time in a long time I’ve shot 3D. For that practice I use a hunting rig with pins rather than long stabilizers and a scope.

I admit I was a bit off on a few shots, but no target was missed and there was only one 5. For the first full 3D practice, 3 hours and 63 shots, I averaged 9.3 points per shot.  The mean distance was 33 yards with a minimum of 18 (a rabbit) and a max of 45 (deer, mountain lion, and bear).  Needless to say 9.3 points per shot isn’t good.   This year seems to be all about getting back into the swing of things.  Maybe, that swing will come back in a hurry.

Clearing woods and pitiful archery

Moving is more than simply having one house loaded, moved to the next, and then unloaded. Although, that is a major task, there are all sorts of landscaping that needs to be done on our property.

We have three acres of thick forest behind our backyard. Our “backyard” has now been fenced and sodded. But, the land beyond the fence is practically impenetrable it is so thick. There are a couple of old trails that pass across the land, but other than those passages navigation is a challenge.

The new 18-meter set-up

This land is where I want to put a 3D range. I’d, also, like a place for picnics and short hikes when the grandkids come to visit. To have that means clearing the land. After three days of hacking and chopping I was beat.

This patch wasn’t too bad
Targets waiting for a home on partially cleared land

On top of the clearing work I’ve been trying to run every morning, shoot after running, then hack, chop, and pull, eat lunch, get on my bike in the afternoon then chop some more and finally get in a second archery practice. Let me tell you, that kind of work and archery do not mix – at least for me.

Tools for the job

 

This section is starting to open up

By the end of the third day it was all I could do to lift my bow. That night I joined a local archery competition and shot horribly. The next day I hired a crew to help with the land clearing. I’d found my physical limit.

Wonder if any body is home?

Selling A Really Special Place

On the first day we listed our home on the Little River we got an offer. The offer was $11,000 more than the asking price. There was another buyer waiting to write a contract standing on the porch of our house while this initial contract was being written inside the house. We accepted the contract. The potential buyers were from Richmond, VA. Both are real estate brokers.

In North Carolina the potential buyer can back out of the deal at anytime during the “due diligence” period and keep their earnest money. During this time, while this house was off the market, the Richmond couple backed out because they felt the taxes on the property where too low. Odd, I like low taxes and had hoped to keep them low as long as possible. We put the house back on the market.

To avoid anyone else thinking our taxes are too low we contacted our local tax office. The taxman came and did his job. Taxes will increase for 2018.

A few weeks later we received another offer, this time $5000.00 over asking price. We accepted. The house was back off the market. During the “due diligence” period this buyer, also from Richmond, decided she’d rather move to Costa Rica and withdrew her offer. Her earnest money was back in her hands. We put the house back on the market.

We had one person that knows the area who drove here from Richmond to see our property. She loved the house and wanted it. It would an easy deal for her and her husband. Her husband, a city boy, squashed the potential sell.

The real estate market is sort of asleep from Thanksgiving to New Year. After that, around here things pick up. Just before New Year, we got another offer.

That offer was a contingency against the sell of the buyer’s current home. She wanted a “due diligence” period of nearly two months. She wanted the house off the market while she sold her home knowing that because this is North Carolina she could back out at any time during that period. We’d have the house off the market and from experience earnest money means nothing here. We didn’t accept that deal.

Over the past fourteen weeks that the property has been on the market it has been shown 14 times. Of the people that looked at the house 21% of them wrote a contract. The house has been off the market twice being “under contract”. Under contract does not mean we can’t or wouldn’t consider other offers. It means that real estate agents are going to bother showing the property.

We’ve owned and sold eight houses. Every time we received a contract on those houses we accepted it and the property sold. One statistic on real estate showings and contracts written is ten showing per one contract. We’ve certainly exceeded that ratio. The price isn’t an issue since 2/3 of the offers we’ve had were above the asking price. In fact, we paid for independent appraisal, which resulted in a property value $9000.00 above our asking price.

The real estate market here isn’t what we’ve seen in the past. I admit I am glad we have no mortgage on this house and we’ll not have one on the new house in Georgia. If this North Carolina property where 200 miles closer to our new home in Georgia I’d keep it.

When this house does sale someone will be getting a piece of paradise.

 

Grayson Sucks

Winter storm Grayson has left us a bit cooled off here in the Deep South. The cold won’t last too long; we’re back into the 60s in a few days. In the meantime, it’s seriously cold. By that I mean highs in the 20s and lows in the single digits for the next two days. (Yep, just more two days)

Yesterday was mostly spent indoors. That was about all I could take of four walls. Before sunrise I was outside. I’ll be shooting, standing next to a space heat in another hour or so. But, Grayson is not a friend to me.

Grayson did have an interesting impact on Little River. Whereas much of the northeast is dealing with coastal flooding, Grayson passed us and sucked water from the Little River.

Our pier is 42 yards long. The ice extends past our dock.

Moving Back to Georgia

We were only supposed to be in Georgia for a couple of days. It turned out to be longer. See, there was this property near Athens and it looked right for a move back to Georgia. We bought the land.

Front of the land cleared and the house is going up

There are a number of valid reasons to leave our home in North Carolina. The combined needs to get back home warrant the relocation leaving behind a house where we’ve put in renovations intended for a lifetime. Someone will end up with a dream home. If the North Carolina property were closer to Athens, Georgia we’d keep it.  The distance is simply too great to make it worthwhile.

The new home, for me, includes: amazing archery ranges, great cycling roads, and phenomenal water access to rivers and lakes. Athens is the Southern Cycling Mecca.

Athens Twilight Criterium Bicycle Race

Georgia, from what I can glean from the Internet will offer more competitive archery than where we live in New Hope (near Hertford, NC). It’s not that North Carolina doesn’t have a fair share of archery events where one can compete. It’s that many of them are so far away from where we live that it requires an overnight trip. Certainly, Georgia is another one of those larger states, but in and around Athens there is an abundance of archery competitors and tournaments to meet their needs.

Georgia Archery Association, along with Field Archery and 3D seems creates a full calendar for shooting in the deep South

To top that off there are endurance sporting events, from running to triathlon, nearly every weekend – to supplement my completion fix provided by archery.

For Brenda, my wife – a professional Yogi instructor – being near Athens offers an abundance of Yoga opportunities.  There are a number of Yoga studios within minutes of our new property.

Another major benefit will be our proximity to UGA.  Since our move to New Hope I have worn out a search for continuing education classes.  There’s just too little here to be academically satisfying.

The property we ended up buying is  minutes outside of Athens. Its just far enough to be out of congestion and enough to get into the city at the drop of a hat. The “lot” we bought is just over three acres in rural “Good Hope” (Population – 289) meaning archery ranges can be affixed. Yes, that is “Good Hope, Georgia” and we are moving from “New Hope, North Carolina.”

If all goes well the relocation will impact athletic training, hopefully to a minimal. The long term benefit to be so close to other cyclists, runners, triathletes and archers has great potential.

About a mile away from our new property in Georgia

It will be cool to shoot over in Social Circle and Snellville, GA. Since Georgia is our home, we’ll be surrounded by family and one of our two daughters. We hope to be moved back to Georgia by February 2018.

Taking a Hike on the 3D Range

Just after sunrise River and I took a walk through the woods. We didn’t run this morning, today being a rest day from running. It is also an easy morning for archery practice with only an hour planned for shooting. Having some extra time on my hands and her paws we took to the leaf carpeted trails on the 3D range.

Since my archery focus has been 18-meters during the past several months I’ve not been in the woods to shoot 3D. Having the summer’s green canopy now brown and on the ground certainly made a difference in the appearance of the forest.

The morning break was nice. Later, archery practice was rough because the wind is seriously blowing off the river. It was a mildly frustrating experience. This afternoon’s practice is full throttle. Hopefully, the wind will have diminished.

Home After 14 Days on the Road

We’re back in New Hope, North Carolina after two weeks on the road living in our Winnebago Micro Minnie. The trip began as a three-day outing to Madison, NC to attend an indoor archery tournament. The adventure expanded to six campsites over three states: North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina.

Our first stop. Although a lot of potential with the rustic barns and such if you see this cabin when looking for a campsite – move on

From the various campsites we took day trips. Among those was a drive to Wilmington, NC. Wilmington is a nice little town except for the traffic. I especially wanted to go there to see some of the sites where “The Hart of Dixie” was filmed. I have no idea how popular this show was when it ran. I watched it after it had been canceled. It is one of those rare series that had me laughing so hard at times I could barely catch my breath.

“Mayor Lavon Hayes'” home from the show The Hart of Dixie. This picture by no means does it justice.
“Dr. Brick Breeland’s” office

In Kinston, NC we stopped and for a second time had dinner at the Chef and the Farmer. Kinston has a nice first come first serve campground at a Nature Park on the Neuse River. It is one of the best deals going at $15.00 per night for a full hook up roomy campsite.

From our campsite in Kinston, NC

Our longest stay was near Tignal, Georgia at Hester’s Ferry campground. By far this ranks as the best campground we’ve used since we bought the RV. This was our longest stay on the trip because we were in Tignal for Thanksgiving.

Set-up at Hester’s Ferry

At all the campsites I found great running trails and got in some off road cycling several times. After the tournament in Madison, NC, I was able to continue archery practice in Tignal.

Little Pee Dee Campground near Dillon, SC

What I can say about two-weeks in a Winnebago Micro Minnie (the 2106 Model) – there was plenty room, we never ran out of hot water, and the heat at night (temperatures down to below freezing a time or two) was toasty. Nevertheless, it is good to be home.

River eager to hit the trails

Running: That Was Gross

It was time to break down and purchase a new pair of running shoes. Generally, I keep a half dozen on hand and I rotate them. Plus, when they get really beaten down, they feel better to me. The rotating isn’t so much to prolong the life of the shoe as it is to prevent stink.  In addition, running in the morning my feet frequently get wet.  Wet shoes suck.

That’s probably not how you should treat shoes. That is, running the tread off. Shoe manufactures have all sorts of recommendations on the wear of the sole of a shoe and when to replace them. Those recommendations have not taken hold on me.

Once, back in the ‘80s I had a pair of Nike Pegasus that fell apart after about six weeks. I called Nike and complained. The product manager I spoke with asked how many miles I was running a week. When I told him he laughed and said be was surprised they lasted that long. The laughter was my only reward for the complaint. (I don’t run that much any longer)

Getting new running shoes is a treat. These new shoes are Newtons. I’ve been running in them as well as Nike, Asics and Zoots. To add to that list I have a pair of the Five-Finger running by Vibram. All of them are pretty much pounded to pulp. Hence, new shoes.

I selected the replacement pair, the Newtons, because I think they idea for archery. Whether they are or not is only a guess. But the toe box cushion on the shoe does, seemingly, help me feel my feet as I am preparing to shoot. Too much heel and I feel like I’m rocking backwards. But, as far as that goes, I’ve got work boots that seem to feel just as good.

At any rate, this rant isn’t so much about footwear and shooting. It’s about what happened while running this morning.

Running down the road, Coco (a Labrador retriever that joins the run nearly every morning) was headed out the door. Her owner was saying good morning to me and I was calling back the greeting. As such, I was not watching the road. While calling to Coco’s owner and waving I stepped on something. It felt unfamiliar.

Now, I run a good bit and do so nearly every day. As such, I’ve stepped into a lot of crap. (Crap in general, not necessarily specific, but that too is true) This foot contact was unusual and unknown.

When I looked back to see what it was I’d stepped on – it was a snake. My stepping on the snake had not immediately killed it; certainly it didn’t improve its health.

What are the odds? Thankfully, it was not poisonous and only about a foot long. But – damn.