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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pin Hunting

Just so you know, it isn’t all daydreams and lollypops with our workamping job here at J. Strom Thurmond COE.  In fairness and full disclosure, we do have an occasional campfire with good friends and marshmallows.


But Marti and I are Type “A” personalities and we like to get things done and earn our keep.  So today, we set out on a new mission:  Pin Hunting.

The COEs has hundreds of miles of boundary lines all around Thurmond Lake.  It had been surveyed over the years and must constantly be checked and rechecked to protect the boundaries from encroachment by people building on or illegally using COE property.  All along the boundaries are thousands of survey pins.   Lost, damaged or missing pins need to be noted for replacement.

The boundary lines are marked with pins and caps attached to the pin, each bearing a unique number.


Our mission was to set out, locate and verify the marker pins and caps were in place along an area by a road way out in the boondocks.  When we located a survey marker, we were to check it off our on our map and tie some pink ribbon around it to enable it to be easily located again.


Most importantly we had two items, a guide that shows markings on trees near the pins and boundary lines (to help narrow down the pin location),


and a metal detector to find buried pins.


Because it is deer hunting season, we had to be aware of the dangers of walking around in the woods.


We went out well equipped to handle the job.  Orange vests, a map of the pins along with some Google Earth pictures.  Bug spray, pink tape, a shovel, a two way radio, even a machete to be able to hack our way into the woods. 


We located many marked trees.


This one won’t be much help too much longer.


We started our search along a half mile length of road.  We figured this was going to be a piece of cake.

We found car trim parts.


And buried cables.


As carefully as we searched with the metal detector on spots our map said the pins would be located,


we dug many an empty hole,


and found even more wire, but no pins!


Finally we found a very elusive pin, it was hidden under a fallen telephone pole which, fortunately was very dry and rotten.


Alas, the cap was missing.  It will have to be replaced.  Originally the caps were made of brass and over the years many have been stolen and sold for scrap.  Replacement caps are made of aluminum now and are replaced on the metal pins as markers.

It ended up being a very frustrating five hours, we found and marked only two pins.  Along with being stolen or buried under leaves and soil, some of the pins are accidently destroyed alongside roads like where we were hunting by grass cutting tractors.

We came back pretty defeated.  We had very little results to show for our endeavor.  We thought we’d have to turn in our red volunteer vests and be banished from Thurmond COEs.  Turning in our work the rangers laughed and told us how hard it is to find the pins, most of the time, they can’t find many, either. 

Phew!  We thought it was just us!   Maybe next week we can try again…

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.



  1. Good thing they gave you some "don't shoot me" outfits to wear!

  2. Not being able to find many pins just confirms that you and Marti are not 'pinheads'.

    Look at the bright side, Paul, at least you didn't get mistaken for a Moose and get shot in the butt!

  3. That would be frustrating. But you did find two so it wasn't a total bust. And it kept you out and about for a few hours. I'm trying to find all the positive things.

  4. Oooh, your work is like geocaching...find the hidden pins. Sounds like detective work.

  5. Good thing there were no snakes wrapped around those pins! Should have enlisted us..we rode part of the trail..maybe we could have spotted one :)

  6. I think you need to get those geocaching grandsons here to find those pins. I remember they were very successful geocachers;o))

  7. So, you're looking for a pin in a haystack? Sounds more engaging than painting posts! ;)

  8. Sounds like a fun mystery to me. I know. It doesn't take much to entertain me :)

  9. Sounds pretty tough to me. So once you certify they aren't there, is someone going to go out and put them back so the next folks don't go looking all over again??

  10. Don't forget to jot down all these new skills you're learning. You never know when you might need to put out resumes for future jobs. I'm sure you're learning some very worthwhile skills too. At least it sounds like Pin Hunting might be something many companies might need ..

  11. Paul that was actually a pretty interesting blog. I'd seen the markings on trees before, but never knew what they meant. Good job. Now get out there and find some more pins.

  12. Sounds like you had a great day, fresh air, exercise with a purpose in mind AND you located 2 pins. Now you can enjoy another campfire and marshmallows.

  13. Good on you. Now that the Feds are open for business maybe you will get some campers.

  14. Pro - out in the fresh air
    Con - Frustrating as heck