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Thread: Please Read: Hornet Warning

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Posts
    109

    Default Please Read: Hornet Warning

    Hey folks,
    I had the chance to do a quick solo camping and fishing trip at Smokemont on Monday night and Tuesday. I love that area and am always excited to head over, even if its only for a short trip. The fishing was great and I caught some nice fish (I'll include some pictures for ya Buzz). On Tuesday morning, I woke early and was on the water by 630. I convinced some nice fish to eat a beetle and was really enjoying a cloudy and rainy morning. I was pretty focused on the run that I was currently fishing, when for some reason I looked at the tree branch that was barely to my left at face level and 3 feet away. This is what I saw (this photo was taken from a "safe" distance, after I changed my pants).


    You might not can tell from the photo, but this is a massive nest of bald faced hornets. I would say that it was nearly the size of a basketball. I froze briefly when I saw the nest, one hornet came out and buzzed me to check me out, and I backed away slowly. We all know that these things are common, but the worst part about this nest is that it is at face level, and right in the perfect spot where a right handed caster would be standing if he were fishing the nice slot on the right side of this run. If you were somehow able to negotiate your way around it, this tree is a backcast grabber for sure. All in all this nest is in the perfect spot for a fisherman to have a bad day.
    I got extremely lucky. Had I not seen this nest when I did, my next step would've sent me ducking under this limb, I would've certainly brushed up against it, and probably would've ended up at the hospital. I've been stung a bunch, but I was so close that they would have had a heck of a head start on me. These things can kill you and its situations like I found myself in that could have ended really badly.
    You guys may have noticed that I never mention "spots" on here. I'm breaking my rule this time in the hopes that it will save someone some nasty stings. This nest is a few holes upstream of the bridge at Tow String, and its on the left side of the creek if you are working your way upstream (river right).
    This is just a friendly warning to everyone to keep an eye up this time of year for things like this. I know David Knapp has been hit a couple times in the park this year and it is not fun. I seem to remember him sending me a hilarious picture of his swollen face, but I'll let him post it if he wants it posted . Watch what you brush up against, and when you hang up in a tree, take a second to check out the branch before you go to shaking the heck out of it. Also, keep that first aid kit with Benadryl in your backpack, or at least in your truck if you aren't in the backcountry. And for heaven's sake, if you are allergic, keep your Epi-pen on you.
    Heads up everyone!
    Here's a couple pretty rainbows to lighten the mood


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    58

    Default

    Thanks for posting, Dan. Glad you got out unscathed and landed some fish. I look for those nests like I do snakes in the warmer months, but I am usually looking up, not at eye level. Not sure I would have seen that one.

    That pic made me more anxious than I care to admit but its a darn good reminder.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Lafayette, TN
    Posts
    127

    Default

    nice trout, I'm glad you didn't get stung, that could have turned out very nasty. I went up Lynn Creek Prong a couple of weeks ago, I cant remember if it was the first rock or the second one now, but there is a rock on the left hand side of the trail going up from tremont that has yellow jackets living on the upper side in the ground, i think. They were comeing out of a hole in the ground, but they didnt look like the type of yellowjackets we have around here, but they looked close enough to it to me that i left quickly.
    A man fishing for minnows, no matter how beautiful the minnow, is not after fish.
    A man called Boomer

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Maryville
    Posts
    1,140

    Default

    Somewhere, there's an east TN redneck upset that you just gave away the location of their next living room decoration. I'm sure they were going to return this winter to cut down that nest. jk

    The sting of hotspotting (pun intended) is always reduced by making mention of rattlesnakes, bears, hornets, small fish, or the Rabbit of Caerbannog.

    Thanks for the heads up. I almost stuck my head in one just like this on the Tellico River a few years ago. It wouldn't have been fun.
    My posts are worthless without pictures

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Knoxville
    Posts
    334

    Default

    So far this year I have encountered two hornets nests, that I know of. Both though were higher than this one.

    When I first started fly fishing, my Dad told me to be careful of them and pay attention especially when getting a fly hung on a limb and pulling on it or pulling back a branch when wading. Less than a week went by and I found my first.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    Posts
    1,569

    Talking

    I got attacked in the worst way a week ago on Saturday. Nathan and I were out chasing an area where the park shocked up a 15 inch brookie. I pulled out my GPS and saw that if you just cut through the woods for 500 feet you would hit the trail and avoid almost a mile of hiking. I saw an open patch of wood that went on for 200 feet or so, so how bad could 300 feet be

    Well it turned out to be Laurel which requires belly sliding as opposed to crawling through rhodo laced with plenty of greenbrier. Nathan found a path made be a raccoon or something small (definitely not a bear trail) as we were about half way I got attacked. At first it was a few stings and I starting moving to get the **** out of there but my rod got snagged while I first made a attempt to grab it. I then felt what I can only describe as getting struck by lightning. My whole nervous system shut down for a microsecond (similar to when I was swimming across lake and lightning stuck water - Deep shock, not like electric fence or fish shocker). At that point I just dropped the rod and got the **** out of there. I got about 20 feet away to a opening where I was still being chased. I starting stripping off my vest and shirt then finally the buzzing stopped and I could finally see one I injured as this was my first sighting of my attacker. I've always heard that these guys were the worst, and now I really knew.



    After the attack I initially thought I was stung 9 times. I have only been stung 2 other times hiking in the last 20 years and those times I think 4 was the most stings I have had. Nathan and I worked our way up to the trail where we were able to finally take a break. The spots where I got stung were really hurting when Nathan suggested some Bee Balm
    I rubbed the leaves on my wounds, and just like aloe vera tampers down a sunburn, the pain diminished. A few minutes later I quickly realized I missed some and had to strip down and get more spots. I knew Bee Balm was used in Earl Grey tea, and was good for toothaches, but wouldn't have tried it if it wasn't for my favorite Chemistry professor Since the name is Bee Balm you think that would have been obvious

    Nathan and I talked on how what happened to me was much more serious than a bear, boar, or snake encounter, and how I was lucky to not be allergic and to be alive. When I got home that night to take a shower I starting counting the spots. After I got into the upper 20's I had my wife help me count since some were on back where I couldn't easily count. After I counted over 30 twice we stopped and I was amazed. I was talking to a friend who is a beekeeper (wears no protection) and explained to me that if you can tell how many times you get stung that you didn't get stung bad. I can truly appreciate that statement now.

    Besides a headache the next morning that may just had to do with dehydration (took a Claritin just in case) haven't suffered any ill effects.

    On a positive note I have woken up early twice since the incident (I'm usually puking by brains out if I wake up early) and have felt fine. In fact my stomach even feels better overall. I'm not sure if the stings themselves had an effect, or it just jolted my immune system, or if it's even the placebo effect, but I'm not complaining
    Call me if you want to go fishing, boating, hiking, or if you want to buy a foamie
    www.foamiefriends.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    944

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    Bald faced hornets are my nemesis.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    143

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    If you fish our mountain streams heavily in late summer sooner or later one or more of the winged stingers will have its way with you. I got my worst episode one august inching my way along a six inch ledge that traversed a hundred horizontal feet against a thirty foot vertical cliff--the stream was six feet below the path. As you felt your way along that ledge your face was inches away from the rock face, and your attention was strictly o n your feet and where the next toe hold was to be found.

    That was my position when l glance back at the wall when flying object around my head caught my attention. Quick head turn toward the wall and l was literally eyeball to eyeball with a yellow jackets nest in a crack in the cliff. They knew l was there before l knew they were there, and they had massed for a frontal attack. It was not much of a fight--- maybe one second and a multitude of face and head stings before l elected the only available retreat--a six foot feet first jump and then head submersion in the pool below. The stings continued. The fly rod was tossed to the far bank somewhere in mid-flight and all my attention was on knocking the little bast….s off my head and face. FWIW water is not a repellent to yellow jackets and they can sting as well three feet under water as they can above the water. I was stung in my hair, face, throat and hands. It was brutal. l always carried benadryl for immediate snake , spider or bee anecdote. It was soaked but i took two soggy ones and managed to get two miles to my vehicle while My head was about to explode in pain. By the time the benadryl kicked in l felt better and fear of a throat constriction subsided. l don't fish the mountains much any more, but today l carry an Epi-pin syringe if i do. FWIW

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Hendersonville, NC
    Posts
    763

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    I haven't had much issues fishing, but I did have an encounter while trail running in Pisgah last year. I just so happened to stop and perch underneath a nest on a brutal climb and quickly got nailed, so I hightailed it down the hill as fast as possible. Luckily, I only got hit three times but it still hurt like all get out.

    I also carry an Epipen with me just in case, they're relatively cheap and could save the day.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    944

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    that reminds me. I think my epi-pen has expired. probably need to check on getting a new one.

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