The POTA Babe Resumes Pursuit of Her Goal

by Teri (KO4WFP)

Now that life has settled down, it is time to return to my 60 new-to-me park activations goal for 2024. I currently stand at 24 out of the 60. For #25 on the list, I chose Penholoway Swamp Wildlife Management Area (US-3767) outside of Jesup, Georgia.

This park is a one-and-a-half hour drive from my QTH. I set out around 8 AM this past Wednesday, May 8th for my activation. Rather than drive Interstate 95 most of the way, I opted to drive through rural Georgia which I prefer. The route took me through the communities of Hinesville (just outside of Fort Stewart, home of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division), Ludowici, and Jesup.

As I entered Jesup, I encountered a sizable manufacturing plant next to the Altamaha River. Owned by Rayonier, the plant is the largest speciality cellulose plant in the world, producing 330,000 metric tons a year.

Paper mills are big business in Georgia. According to, the state of Georgia accounts for 21% of all US exported pulp and paper (both newly milled & recycled products). I found a 2015 Georgia Forestry Commission report noting there are 22 pulp and paperboard mills in Georgia resulting in $12.5 billion in revenue.

Rayonier cellulose plant

Paper mills often produce a smell like rotten eggs or cabbage. In Savannah, there was the Union Camp paper mill (later purchased by International Paper) on the Savannah River. The joke I remember while growing up in Savannah was that when tourists asked what that smell was, you would reply “the smell of money.” The Savannah mill is still operating and produces a million tons of paper product every year which eventually gets made into cardboard boxes.

Penholoway Swamp Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is a 10,500+ acre property near the Altamaha River with hunting opportunities. The WMA contains lots of pine stands including several stands of longleaf pines which are maintained by prescribed fire and mechanical thinning. As I mentioned in my Oliver Bridge WMA trip report, longleaf pine areas are important habitat for threatened species such as the gopher tortoise and indigo snake.

evidence of a controlled burn

I thought I would set up my station near the kiosk at the entrance. However, there was not much room and what little there was didn’t offer much shade. Looking at the map I printed from the GA Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website, I decided to drive down Post Road to where it dead-ends into Hinson Road near the Altamaha River. Maybe that section of the park would be more secluded and offer some shade.

park entrance off River Road
Entrance area with kiosk
pine stands in the WMA
a road off the main drag (Post Road)

Sure enough, the section of Hinson Road off to the left of Post Road went a little way before being blocked off by a gate. Oaks, pines, and other trees created a canopy over the road and looked like a perfect QTH off the beaten path.

WMA Map. source:
a shady location

Before I left the house, I checked the GA DNR Hunting Regulations booklet as to what might be in season for this WMA. Turkey is currently being hunted, though I didn’t expect on a weekday to run into many hunters. Either way, I made sure to don my blaze orange hat and vest as well as put Daisy’s vest on her before setting up my equipment.

hunting information
fashionably attired in blaze orange!

I spied a pine tree close to the road with branches low enough to reach with my arbor line. Usually it takes me a try or two to snag the branch I want but today all it took was one toss! I ran the antenna toward the road. Soon Daisy and I were comfortable and I was on the air.

arbor line in tree

I began with 40 meters, working hunters close to home. I had only two takers for that band – Robbie W1RCP in Georgia who gave me a RST of 229 and Chris KR4I in NC, a 219. Given those poor, atypical RSTs, I moved to 30 meters.

View from our QTH

I had better outcomes on 30 meters – four CW contacts in seven minutes with RSTs of 559-599. When I received no more responses to my CQ calls, I moved to 20 meters and 17 meters, both bands giving me seven contacts each. On a whim, I moved to 15 meters, a band on which I generally don’t have many QSOs. The move paid off – I heard Byrne VE1ZZ in Nova Scotia as well as Raffaele IK4IDF and Rodolfo I4RHP in Italy!

After a brief return to 20 meters for two more contacts, I began hunting. There were fewer activators than normal on the POTA site – only seven or eight of us. I could successfully hunt only two stations – Peter KQ6QB in US-10247 and Thomas KU8T in US-5683, both in Indiana. By this time, I had been on the air a little over two hours and it was time to call QRT.

QSO map for Penholoway Swamp WMA US-3767

I had no idea how challenging the bands were that day until I began looking at conversations on Discord and texts. The dismal RSTs I had on 40 meters should have been a clue.  However, I’ve stopped checking band conditions before I head out for POTA because one never knows what you will actually get UNTIL you get on the air. I wouldn’t have had the 27 QSOs and a valid activation IF I had listened to those to those negative reports and stayed home.

Penholoway Swamp is a WMA to which I’ll return. The area along the Altamaha River is a target-rich environment for POTA. There are eight POTA sites to the west and east of Jesup. In fact, nextdoor to Penholoway Swamp WMA is Sansavilla WMA which I plan on activating next week.

POTA sites (all WMAs) near Jesup, Georgia

Will the band conditions then be as challenging? Will the activation be a dual activation with Glenn W4YES? Stay tuned…

Equipment Used

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6 thoughts on “The POTA Babe Resumes Pursuit of Her Goal”

    1. Trevor:

      When I ordered my KX2, I added the internal battery charger so I don’t have to worry about connecting it to a power source or changing out batteries while operating unless I plan to stay out an extended period of time. I am often not out more than 3 hours and the battery has been sufficient for those activations. I purchased a Jackery 300 plus power station for my POTA/camping trips and that has worked well to recharge the KX2 though I don’t generally use it while operating as the device generates RFI on 40 meters. The Jackery is not inexpensive but it has proven a great addition to my camping arsenal. I like that it is compact and easy to carry along if I activating not far from my car.

      For my Yaesu FT-891 and my partner’s Yaesu 991A, I have a LiFePO4 Bioenno battery 12V 15Ah battery. My partner Glenn W4YES also has a Dakota Lithium 12V 25Ah battery. (The Dakota Lithium batteries are less expensive than the Bioenno batteries but I prefer the packaging of the Bioenno which has a cleaner and streamlined look.)

      The POTA Babe

  1. Always enjoy Teri’s activation reports!

    This is someone who really catches the spirit of POTA.

    72 de Gil K4JST

  2. Teri, from which vendor did you get your POTA banner and stake? Such a good way to pique the interest of any park-goers.

    1. Stephen:

      My POTA flag is actually a gift from a friend, Gil K4JST. I saw on the POTA website that you can order that style flag from two vendors: JSE Repair and Ham Radio Gear, the links for both being accessible through the Shop section of the POTA website.

      I have a garden flag holder for mine but would like to find a way to rig it differently, either to my chair or car when I operate so I don’t have to take with me the particular holder I have.

      The POTA Babe

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