The POTA Babe Embarks on an Overnighter

by Teri (KO4WFP)

It is summer break and I’m getting stir crazy. Earlier this year, I scheduled an overnight trip to Reed Bingham State Park. However, given the chaos of my personal life, it was necessary to reschedule the trip. The earliest weekend available was Sunday, June 2nd.  My son would be out of school for summer break and riding lessons would move to weekdays.

Sunday rolled around and this POTA Babe was ready to hit the road again. Out came the camping gear with a few tweaks. I ditched the DEET insect repellant replacing it with a 20% picaridin spray and added a Thermacell unit. I purchased a hitch system for Daisy as well as a harness to replace her collar. The North Face sleeping bag would stay home and, in its place, I’d use a Sea-to-Summit bag liner for the warmer night temperatures.

Gear – camping, ham radio, video
Food for the trip

With my gear loaded, Daisy and I hit the road a little after 8 AM. Before arriving at Reed Bingham State Park, I planned an activation at Bullard Creek Wildlife Management Area (US-3737). (Yes, I should just become the poster child for wildlife management areas as they’ve become my favorite place to activate in Georgia!)

The drive through rural Georgia was a pleasant one.

source: Google Maps

We passed through towns familiar to us (Pembroke, Claxton – the fruitcake capital of the world, and Reidsville) as well as new places like Daisy, Georgia. It was a pleasant trip and before I knew it, there we were, crossing the Altamaha River a stone’s throw from Bullard Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

Actually, Apple Maps routed me to Bullard Creek itself and not the WMA. After a little sleuthing, we were headed in the correct direction and accessed the WMA via a back route. (I knew we were in the right place when I began seeing WMA boundary signs!)

Bullard Creek WMA consists of over 17,000 acres in two tracts along the Altamaha River. One can hunt as well as fish, view wildlife, and use the public shooting range. This WMA was among one of the nicer properties I visited so far.

Shooting range on site

Not far after entering the WMA, I found a clearing off the main road and decided to set up there. Present in the clearing were pine trees with branches low enough to reach with my arbor line. (I knew the WMAs allow wire antennas and figured Reed Bingham would as well so I left the Chelegance MC-750 at home.)

After donning my blaze orange vest and hat, I had the Tufteln EFRW in the tree, the coax attached, and was settled to begin.

The road beyond our clearing for the activation
Pines with lower branches
Daisy’s checks out the surrounding woods

Two things happened in short order. (Remember, ALWAYS expect the unexpected with POTA.) I couldn’t access the POTA site to spot myself due to variable cell service. My partner Glenn W4YES came to the rescue and spotted me on 30 meters. I worked a few callers and then…the sun came out. Literally.

We had departed Savannah under cloudy skies which remained during my drive south. In the clearing where I set up, there was ZERO shade as I expected cloudy conditions to persist.

As warm as it was, even with her cooling coat, it was too hot for Daisy to remain in the sun. And I had no desire to roast either. So in short order, we relocated to Kai, the only shade anywhere close by.

Set up in the car

Once settled, I moved to 20 meters and, with cell service working for the moment, was able to spot myself on 14.054. Twenty meters was the magic band as it yielded nine QSOs in ten minutes. Given I had a valid activation and access to the POTA site now, it was time to hunt for park-to-park QSOs.

Again 20 meters came through as most of the activators that morning were on 20 meters. I worked Roy AA3RT at US-6432, Paul NA9M at US-10648, Gregory WB8IZM at US-6618, Jim WB0RLJ at US-4011, Charles AB9CA at US-2275, and Mark AA3K at US-6432.

At this point, there were no more activators I could hear so I returned to calling CQ. Twenty meters gave me one more QSO, a SKCC op I hadn’t seen in awhile – Hank K1PUG in CT. It was nearly time to call QRT but before doing so, I moved to 17 meters and worked Peder SM2SUM and Brian K3ES.

QSO Map for Bullard Creek WMA Activation 6-2-2024 source:
QSO Map for Bullard Creek WMA Activation (USA only) source:

Now that the on-air component of my visit to Bullard Creek WMA was successful, it was time to explore! With map in hand, Kai, Daisy, and I set off after packing up everything. My goal was to reach the Altamaha River if possible.

We drove down roads of varying composition – one gravel (I think because of the run-off from rain evident by the sculpted dirt along both sides), one packed dirt, and another a parallel dirt track through the woods.

Route through WMA noted in purple. map source: GA DNR
The main drag
A pleasant drive through the woods

The view varied from clear-cut areas to woods with a pleasant understory dotted with flowers.

Black-eyed Susan?
Morning Glory?
Spurred Butterfly Pea

Eventually, we reached the river and found ourselves quite a few feet above the swift-paced current. After a few moments watching the eddies in the muddy-looking water below, it was time to head to our next destination – Reed Bingham State Park.

We managed to find our way out of this WMA and onto US 221 headed south. What would I find at Reed Bingham and would the bands continue to be kind to me? Stay tuned…

Altamaha River
Bank down to the river

Equipment Used

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8 thoughts on “The POTA Babe Embarks on an Overnighter”

  1. Always love reading about your adventures. Enjoy seeing the pics. Here in SW MO our Conservation areas are mostly grasslands with some small ponds or lakes.

    1. Dennis:

      That is the beauty of this gorgeous country in which we live – the variety of habitats and terrain. In Georgia, there is a lot of tree farming and I think quite a few of these WMA properties were used for that purpose before transitioning to state ownership. I am hoping in the future to travel further afield for POTA and experience other habitats including grasslands.

      Thanks for your comment. Keep having fun with ham radio!

      The POTA Babe

  2. Thermacell is a great piece of equipment for activations and QTH! Enjoyed hearing about your travels!

  3. Mike:

    I purchased the Thermacell based on recommendations from friends. I did use it at Reed Bingham with mixed results. It may be that the pads were old or there was enough wind that it was not as effective. There were some mosquitos around dusk but I noticed there were not many outside the tent where I left the Thermacell so it may have been working. I also had those annoying little black bugs that don’t bite but drive you nuts because they get in your ears and in your face. The Thermacell didn’t seem to work well with them. I am keeping an open mind, though, and will continue to use it.

    Thanks for your comment. Keep having fun with POTA and CW!

    The POTA Babe

    1. Andrew:

      Thanks for the note about the link. I added that URL to the image after finishing the QSO map and you are correct, the “upload” addition at the end of the URL should be removed. I will fix it.

      By the way, I took your comments regarding my EFRW antenna to heart, Andrew, and now run the counterpoise in the same direction as (basically undernearth) the antenna. You actually have me thinking I’d like to have a day where I can spend three or four hours on the air and play with the orientation of the antenna during an activation. Of course the bands shift throughout the day and that could influence my experiment. But it would be interesting to see if there is a difference as to orientation and the direction of the contacts. I have no interest in antenna theory in general but you’ve piqued my interest.

      Glad you enjoyed the article.

      The POTA Babe

  4. Teri,
    Great as usual. You are an inspiration to me and others.
    Keep up the great work.

  5. Hi Terri,

    Great post. I love the information and ordered the knee desk and kx2 magnetic cover. I do ultraportable qrp on my travels where possible. Just did Gozo Malta a few weeks ago and costa rica in Jan but darn CME’s have been following me lately. I try to chronicle what I can on youtube Great work! Thanks for sharing your experiences. Ve3bwp

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