Sunday, November 21, 2021

Video: Caddo Lake WMA (TX) K-6542 activation

Mark: "Alligators don't like being poked with a paddle"
Despite spending the first 22 years of my life in northeast Texas, I had never been to Caddo Lake on the Texas-Louisiana border. It is uniquely different (yes, a redundancy) from other lakes in the area due to the large number of cypress trees around the lake's perimeter. Also, the transition from lake to land is very gradual and swampy.

A large number of alligators inhabit the lake and I was a bit hesitant to put in with my kayak...but I met a young feller there who was camping, kayaking and hunting. He lived nearby and was in possession of two kayaks - a rigid one and an inflatable. The inflatable kayak was stowed (deflated) behind the seat of his rigid kayak. Strapped up front was a Winchester rifle.

He paddled about, hunting deer from his watery perch. The inflatable kayak was used if he got a deer. He would inflate it with a portable pump, put the deer on it and tow it back to his campsite.

When I confessed my concerns about alligators, he said three comforting words: "They're pretty chill" followed by a disclaimer, spoken in the very finest of East Texas redneckery: "Just don't F with them - they don't like being poked with a paddle."

I didn't ask how he knew they didn't like being paddle-poked; it sounded like he was speaking from first-hand experience. And I was very much determined not to F with them.

Armed with this knowledge - and a drone overview indicating about 1/3 mile of swamp before getting to the lake proper - I set out. I saw exactly zero alligators but the pucker factor was high and I will never paddle in such an area again.

A little photography and ham radio was my reward. The cypress trees amazed me; we even had what passes for autumn color around here. Not much of it, but we appreciate it nonetheless.

Conditions on 20m were amazing. You'd think I had a big 'ol Yagi connected to the rig with all the strong European stations calling me, but no - just a HamStick.

Four log pages were filled and many more stations were calling but I had to QRT for the long drive home.





  1. Almost twenty years ago, I used to do lunchtime DX using an FT-817 and a Super Antenna with counter-poise mounted on a picnic table, outside my work QTH in SE Michigan. It was common to talk to stations in Europe on SSB using only 5 watts on my end in those days. That was a couple of solar cycles ago. It's nice to hear what a few sunspots can do, and gives a taste of good propagation to come during the upcoming solar cycle.

    Thanks for the beautiful scenery shots. What a wonderful world we live in, and I appreciate it more each day.

    1. It's a lot of fun to work DX with a simple set-up. And has the FT-817 been around that long! Man, the years just fly by, don't they?! About the time you were doing that I was spending lunch breaks working DX with a 20m DSW CW kit designed by K1SWL and a HamStick on the car. Those were fun days and I'm looking forward to similar conditions returning (soon?).