Sunday, January 29, 2006
Oconee river escape.....
Yesterday, a friend, George, and I paddled an 18 mile stretch of the Oconee river. Our trip started at the Lauren's County Sportsman's Club (Fish Trap Cut) and ended at Berry Hill Bluff (Pete Davis Lake), a part of the Oconee river canoe trail. The river was up nicely and the current was strong, helping us make good time. One of our goals had been to look for some river rock for use in flintknapping (this area was inhabited by indians and stone artifacts have been found along the river). But with the river being full, we had almost no opportunity to get out on sandbars. About 2/3 of the way thru, there are several rock faces on the river banks and we were able to locate some sandstone for abrading.
The weather was spectacular for a kayaking trip. Just cool enough to wear a light jacket, without becoming overheated. Skies blue and crisp (a big change from working indoors for the past week). There was a strong wind, a head wind, that we always seem to find when on the Oconee. Trees on the banks are gray and empty now, only the moss swaying on the breeze. The ocassional pine or magnolia tree providing a green hue to the scenery. This area of our river is very scenic, as seen in the above photo. This picture was taken off the Oconee river in Rock Springs creek (surely a spring time pic).
I needed to get outside this weekend and the Oconee river is a great way to do it. The river is different each trip we take. This trip I was really aware of the river views we had. I mean, when the river is running low, you can't see very far ahead of you around a bend (you have to get around the sandbars to see). Today, with the river high, there were No sandbars, and we could see alot more of the river at any one time. The river felt large and powerful to me. At two locations, the river twists very tightly back onto itself. Here, at higher water, the is a "cut-thru" over to the next section of river. We took these shortcuts each time (they offer a unique diversion from the paddling rythmn of a long trip).
This run took right at 4 hours, though considerably more time to recover from. At the end of the course is Berry Hill Bluff, a 100 foot rock bluff, rising straight from a cypress lake (Pete Davis lake). As we rounded the last bend before the bluff, I could not help being impressed by the towering landscape looking down upon the ancient watercourse.
Of local interest, the tomb of Georgia Governor George Troup lies with in a couple of miles of this area. I will include driving directions below for these boat ramps and landmarks. If you are in middle Georgia and are looking for an outdoor afternoon to remember, please look into an Oconee river trip. I have never been let down by Georgia's waterways. Thanks for paddling today, please come back again for another look.
Please take a moment and drop by Bluewater Jerky and check it out.
To locate the Sportsman's Club, take Ga. hwy. 19 south out of Dublin a few miles, there will be a sign on the left for the club. (Note, this boat ramp is a members only ramp).
To locate the take out point (Berry Hill Bluff) from Dublin, head east on Interstate 16, crossing the Oconee river, and leave the interstate at the exit for Ga. Hwy. 199. Follow hwy. 199 approx. 15 miles to the town of Lothair. Turn right at the church, onto Ga. Hwy 199 spur. At the end of the pavement turn right onto Dead River Rd. and follow to the water (this boat ramp is courtesy of the state of Georgia and Treutlen County (there is a primitive camping area at this location.
One of several rock bluffs on this river section.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Primitive archery hunting
I have been hunting for many years now, and have had moderate to good success, especially with firearms. Archery hunting has always been my passion, though. In February of 2005, I started working with wood in the hopes of building my own wooden hunting bow. I purchased several books and got involved with different websites to look for help. Here is the process I went through.
I started out using red oak boards as my primary source of bow wood (Home Depot, of course). With the selection of the right board (growth rings and fiber patterns), it is entirely possible for a beginner to buy a board in the morning and have a usable bow in the late afternoon. As I had almost no power tools, my building time took a little longer, 1&1/2 days. :=) This bow even had a bloodwood handle glued on that was a beautiful deep red color. The bow was 68 inches nock-to-nock (NTN) and pulled about 42 pounds (#). Not a powerhouse, but a definite shooter. I did shoot this bow, but only for a week or so and I was already building the next.
Over the next few months I built several bows. By now, I was using boards from hickory wood, and I was having greater success (wooden bows will often "explode" during construction). Hickory became my wood of choice quickly. During the summer a friend put me in touch with Jerry Peacock, who owns a lumber mill operation in Cary, Ga. Jerry found for me several hickory beams. These were rough cuts of hickory of about 4 X 6 dimension and very heavy. With a new bandsaw (purchased for bowbuilding) I ripped out a 3 inch wide by 1 inch thick plank from one of the beams. This plank was crafted into a pyramid style bow, based on directions found in Traditional Bowyer's Bible's (Tim Baker) and from internet sites such as Paleoplanet and Stickbow. Basically, a pyramid bow is just that. As the limbs go away from the handle, they are very wide (2 to 2.5 inches) and they taper straight to tips that are about 3/8 inch wide. The thickness of the limbs from handle to tips does not change. Pictures are better for understanding this concept. http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y218/roguearcher/handmade%20bows/Set125_01.jpg
This link shows a pyramid bow, notice the "triangular" shape of the upper limb.
Throughout the spring and summer of 2005 I was constantly shooting my homemade bows. Instinctive shooting (sort of) can take time to learn well enough to hunt game. A few thousand shots later and I was confident enough to go to the woods with my bow. October 28, 2005 I climbed into a permanent tree stand in a hardwood area. Water oak acorns were falling nicely, and I did see a couple of deer early that AM, but no shooting. Later in the morning, I saw a young doe about 40 yards out, feeding slowly. I stood and tightened my fingers on the bowstring. After several minutes of feeding the situation seemed to stall out. I figured I need some help so I did a short series of bleat calls using only my mouth (very softly). The doe turned and walked right over to my stand. At 8 yards, she was broadside, and I came back to full draw. She had no idea.
The cedar arrow sank to the feathers tight behind her shoulder. First she ran away, about 30 yards, and crashed. She then came back past the stand (with no arrow protruding) and crashed about 40 yards away, within sight. This hunt was without a doubt the most exciting I have ever had, including killing large bucks with a rifle. My only response to the entire hunt was to sit down and stare at the arched wooden bow in my hands and cry.
I did find there arrow up the trail she initially took. It was broken, but I did salvage the broadhead (a Magnus 2 blade). Using the shin bone recovered from this deer I crafted a broadhead knife using that Magnus. Very neat.
Thanks for hunting with me today. Please come back soon.
Please remember to visit my Jerky Direct website.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
The Ogeechee River....blackwater perfection
Paddling east we found ourselves in the middle of an awesome place. Cypress trees of dimension I had not seen before. During a lunch break, we got out of the river and really got a good look at the surrounding swamp. There were cypress trees and cypress knees everywhere. Areas like this swamp always leave me with an eerie and quiet impression.
The wildlife on this river is exciting. We witnessed deer, turkeys, and pigs. Also, we saw many ducks and herons. There are game animals at every turn, and there are many sorts of fish also.
The river had a good flow on this trip, but we wasted a lot of time and soon found ourselves running out of daylight. We picked up the pace, however, we could only go "so fast" because there were trees down at almost every turn. We either had to portage, or negotiate our way thru the open areas around the trees (a kayaking art known as "stump jumping").
We paddled pretty hard for what seemed like a long time, and I felt we'd be forever reaching the truck. The day was almost gone and we had started to look for a place to camp when we heard the train whistle at Herndon. At dark, we got to the boat ramp and loaded the boats, each of us cold and wet.
Our kayaking group has since paddled the Ogeechee several times since that first afternoon, and we have never been disappointed. In addition to some great paddling, this area hosts each year the Ogeechee River Redbreast Festival and draws a huge crowd.
The Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources has a great description of the river and also has all necessary fishing and boating regulations. Also, please check out http://www.garivers.org/ to learn about the conservation efforts going on to save Georgia's waterways.
Thanks for going along on this trip with us. Please visit my Jerky Direct website.
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