Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Hidden Dangers of Metal Detecting

As a relic hunter, I love trekking through the woods in search of forgotten homesteads or Civil War camp sites.  These can often be quite far from any actual trails, so it's important to be aware of the potential dangers that might turn a fun outing into a seriously bad situation.  I recently fell victim to one of these dangers that took me off my feet for nearly a week.

There are lots of things to watch out for when you're out in the woods, and it's particularly important to stay alert to your surroundings.  Here in central North Carolina, there are several types of poisonous snakes, so watch where you step.  I've yet to come across any of the poisonous varieties, but plenty of black snakes have darted out from under my search coil.  Another hazard below your feet are holes - it can be easy to miss step into a groundhog hole or rotted stump hole and wind up with a serious ankle injury.  In addition to dangers below you, watch out for dangers from above.  Dead trees and limbs are often hanging precariously in the deep woods, and can cause severe injury should they fall.

Even recovering a found target can be hazardous.  Broken glass or rusty iron has caused me some pretty nasty cuts in the past, and many detectors hunt exclusively with gloves on for that reason.  Poison ivy roots are not always identified, but can still cause the same skin reaction.  When you stand back up, it's easy to get disoriented in the trees.  A GPS and cell phone are a must.

The danger that got me was tiny in size, but sure packed a wallop - a tick bite.  Despite copious amounts of DEET, I still typically find a few ticks crawling on me by the end of a day out in the woods or tall grass.  And it only takes one bite to transmit any of the tick-bourne illnesses, including lymes disease.  For days I had been battling incredible muscle pain, chills, and a moderate fever.  When I finally went in to see the doc, I was diagnosed with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (or one of several other "tick fevers" with similar symptoms).  I'm feeling much better now that I'm on antibiotics, though.

I've been told that there's a fine line between passionate and crazy, and I'm not quite sure what side of the line I fall on.  But for what it's worth, I found these two bullets out in the woods on the day after leaving the hospital!  And yes, I had a new tick bite when I got home.  I'm starting to lean towards crazy...

1 comment:

  1. Bummer! Fortunately I live in an area where Lyme disease is not common but I have experienced some of the other dangers you speak of, including an aerial attack by a hawk!

    Spiders and snakes have been the most common crawly I encounter out in the wild.

    Hope you recover fully soon and get out there a-swingin'