Sunday, September 1, 2013

August hunt insanity

It's late August.   Temperatures here in central North Carolina are in the low-to-mid 90's (Fahrenheit) with humidity levels routinely between 65-70%.   Those are pretty much perfect conditions if you're an insect or dinosaur but for mammals such as myself it is pretty dang miserable.

After converging on Raleigh back in April 1865 and securing Johnston's surrender, the 90k or so invading Union troops promptly skedaddled back North to cooler climes.  Those guys were smart to get out of the South before Summer kicked in.  I live here so don't really have that option.

Let's face it, sometimes the detecting bug just bites you and not even Jurassic weather conditions can deter you from doing something questionable.  After some pretty intensive research over the past month, combined with the arrival of a new toy, I couldn't resist getting out for a few hunts in spite of the miserable conditions.

New toy: A Minelab CTX 3030

Two of the sites I visited had been exposed by recent construction and were on the verge of disappearing forever underneath asphalt and cheap condos.  I was able to hunt only a limited area on each site and managed only a few bullets from each location but was still happy to save at least a relic or two.

My third hunt was a bit more complex as it was deep in the woods.  And by "deep" I mean the decision to get out there at this time of year was clearly not rational.

In addition to the aforementioned heat which makes dehydration a very real concern, there are two other seriously good reasons to stay the heck out of the woods:   Ticks and poison ivy.  Now those may sound like minor issues but take it from me, you do not want to get a tick-born disease (like I did last year) and you also really do not want to get poison ivy.  I could post a photo of my leg 5 weeks after serious exposure to poison ivy but that would probably not be good for my page view count.  Suffice to say:  It's nasty stuff.

So, resolved to get out there in spite of the weather, ticks, and toxic plants, I dressed appropriately (long sleeves and pants, boots, hat, and gloves),  applied a liberal coating of insect repellent, and entered the dense Carolina forest in search of a Civil War campsite.

For the next couple of hours, as terrain conditions permitted and with the assistance of my Garmin GPS, I performed a rough grid over several acres of heavily wooded land.  Occasionally, I ran across some patches of iron, but the only non-ferrous targets I found were shotgun shells and modern bullets.

Now I'm no spring chicken by any means, but I'm in pretty good shape overall and usually have no problem detecting from morning to nightfall.  But after a few hours of wandering the woods with the mercury showing 92 degrees, I was absolutely wrecked.  My clothes were drenched with perspiration -- it literally looked like someone had turned a garden hose on me.  I couldn't see very well since the lenses of my glasses were coated by spider webs that I'd walk through every 3 or so yards.  Trying to wipe off the spider secretions just made things worse.  So, feeling drained and somewhat defeated, I decided it was high time to make my way back to the car and call it a day.

And suddenly, "DING."  A nice, crisp tone in the headphones.  I looked at the CTX meter and saw a 37 CO value.  That's right in the sweet spot for lead but, given the rest of the day, I was pretty sure I'd found just another modern bullet.  However the depth indicator caused my heart to beat a bit faster -- 8 inches down according to the CTX.  Nice, deep, and old.

Trying not to get my hopes up too much, I dug a deep plug.  And right in the middle of it was this guy.

Yeah baby.  Not only had I found a .58 caliber bullet from the Civil War way back in the middle of the woods, but it had been pulled.  When soldiers on patrol returned to camp, they unloaded their weapon.  And the only way to unload a muzzle-loading rifle (other than by firing) is to use a bullet-puller aka "worm."  Just like a corkscrew, the bullet worm is screwed into the tip of a bullet which allows it to be pulled out of the barrel.

A modern day version of a muzzle-loader worm.

So this was pretty encouraging.  I slowed down and hunted the area around where I found the pulled bullet and, about three feet away, I found a ubiquitous dropped Type III Williams Bullet, another sign that I'd located the camp I was looking for.

In spite of the finds and my restored morale, I was too exhausted to continue detecting.  So I logged the bullets in my GPS and made my way back to the modern miracle of air conditioning in my car.

These are pretty humble finds but nevertheless I'm super excited by the discovery of a new site.  Hopefully there are some more relics left in the camp.  I'll definitely be visiting it again soon but think I'll let it cool down a bit more first.

Finds from the other sites
Happy hunting.


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