This morning I wanted to get to the Odin Mountain Compound Air Rifle Range (OMCARR) early and get in some rifle firing practice before other events of the day got in the way of this important exercise.
Something I have noticed and been concerned about when repeatedly loading the air rifle is that my thumb and forefinger used to pick up the lead pellets becomes coated with a light gray color.
This is lead.
Lead is toxic and accumulates in living tissue. It causes very bad problems to the brain and nervous system – there is no such thing as a safe level of lead.
After my near daily sessions of loading and firing the air rifle using lead pellets I then pack up my kit and walk to the house. While I do wash my hands lead is difficult to remove completely. In addition, everything those fingers have touched may now have a small deposit of lead dust. Everything from the air rifle to the camera, the doorknob to my home, and camera gear.
Because lead is an element it does not go away but instead accumulates. Over time the leaded-fingers syndrome could become a serious problem and perhaps unrecognized.
The solution I came up with is to wear a non-latex glove on my right hand. I use the fingers of this hand to pick lead pellets from the pellet tin and insert them into the air rifle.
When I am done my live fire training I simply pinch the glove up near my wrist and peel the glove off. This turns the glove inside out, trapping the lead residue inside the glove which I then dispose of in the trash.
Twenty-five rounds fired and a fine coating of lead can be seen on the glove I used to load the rifle.
I was a little underdressed while do this mornings target practice. A light wind and temperature of 28-degrees F but I knew it would not take long to fire off the rounds and take pictures. In addition frequently being outside while being a bit on the chilly side hardens up the mind and body for the coming winter which can be brutal at times here in the Great North Woods.
After nap and lunch it was time for my daily 5-mile hike. Once again I traversed some of the Mount Cleaveland – Gale River logging road complex. At times there was a light snow with temperatures just below freezing which made for excellent hiking.
Along the way I came upon another set of fisher cat tracks. This time the animal appeared to be dragging something in the snow. At first I thought the fisher was sliding its belly as it walked since I have seen them do this. However as the fisher traveled through the snow the portion that was slid upon was often on one side or the other of its tracks.
Further along the fisher cat continued to drag its catch across a shallow pond. You can see where it fell through the thin ice in several places.
Fisher cats are are ferocious and powerful creatures. I think of them much like the famed badger (there are no badgers in the Great North Woods). Solitary, tough, illusive. A forest partizan to be sure.
The old logging road ascends Mount Cleveland at a steep enough angle so as to cause me to overheat and sweat even in the below freezing temperatures. Becoming wet with perspiration is the last thing you want to do when in the winter woods, so temperature regulation is required.
A typical winter walk means frequently taking off or putting on various pieces of clothing in order to maintain as best possible a cool and dry body. The more calories your body uses in a unit of time the more heat your body produces. Hard going uphill may even mean stripping down to just a t-shirt (and of course pants) while easy grades may require a couple layers of fleece and at least a light fleece hat.
On this typical early winter excursion (I realize it is not yet officially winter by the calendar but in the Great North Woods it certainly is winter conditions)