Many thanks to Bob (K4RLC) who shares the following POTA field report:
Woodbury Wildlife Management & Heritage Area (K-8151), Britton’s Neck, Marion County, South Carolina
by Bob (K4RLC)
Woodberry WMA (K-8151) is a 26,000 acre natural area over an hour inland from the Atlantic Ocean and formed by the confluence of the Great and Little Pee Dee rivers. Geologically, it is an area called the Coastal Plain given that in geologic time all this land was under the Atlantic Ocean. In North and South Carolina the Coastal Plain is basically land between Interstate 95 and the Atlantic Ocean. Historically, this land has importance as a site of many Revolutionary war battles. The namesake of Marion County is the famous American Revolutionary War General Francis Marion, known around here as the “Swamp Fox”. His military tactics against the British Army formed the origins of guerrilla fighting. Britton’s Neck is known named for the Britton family who settled the area around 1735 and operated the very important Ferry across the Pee Dee River, carrying farmers and their crops as well as soldiers. After this area had its timber harvested by a paper company, the state of South Carolina with help from the Nature Conservancy, acquired it.
I like to operate in such off the track places as it really feels closer to nature. Given that they have been activated only a few times, they are rare for POTA and many want to contact them, especially in CW. The dirt road coming in ran through an old cemetery, started in the early 1800s. On the other side of is a small cleared area with a kiosk that has a map and tells you what’s in season for hunting. In addition to the usual animals, the listing says that it’s always open season for feral pigs also known as wild Boar, given their destructive nature on the environment and nearby farmers’ fields. Near the kiosk is a metal mailbox like structure with a latch on it. When you open it, there is a sign in book where you list the date, your name, and what you’re hunting for. Five of the entries directly above me said they were “COON” hunting, and another hunter wrote “Hog”. For my listing I just wrote “radio” and thought that might puzzle a few hunters ?.
The set up was the usual with the old Alinco DX-70TH which is been used on the beach so many times, the beach sand and salt water in it now gives it a distinctive chirp on transmit. Old-timers let me know that a chirp was present (599C) but I think it’s just a unique part of the radio signal. The antenna was a 17 foot Chameleon MilSpec whip on a small metal tripod (no coil), set on top of a large aluminum screen wire mesh, now known as “the magic carpet”. As there were no picnic tables, I set up in the backseat of Alanna’s K4AAC van. Operating was pleasant with the cool day and no bugs. There were some other equipment issues. As the Alinco does not have an internal keyer, I used an old MFJ portable keyer with the key made from two stiff pieces of copper and rubber feet for pads. You get a forearm workout using this. (Apologies for my sending.)
Nevertheless, I quickly worked 40 stations all the way from Utah to Italy on 20 CW. This portable station was lighting up the Reverse Beacon with very strong signals up the East Coast and down in the Caribbean.
Cell service was pretty good and I got to talk with my uncle Randy who had been part of a hunting club here 40 years ago. Randy shared some stories of comradery, mostly hanging out with his young son Edward and friends, cooking around an open campfire, telling tall tales to each other. He knew the area well and told me I had about another 10 miles of dirt road before hitting a dead end at the river. As daylight was failing, it seemed wise to turn around and save the longer trip for another time. It was only fitting that in the dark, in the headlights in front of me, I saw a large black bear lumbering across the dirt road, dragging a dead deer behind it. This was truly nature.
73 de K4RLC Bob
Windy Hill Beach, South Carolina