Group gathers mistletoe on river trip
LILLINGTON, N.C. – There’s an old southern tradition of shooting mistletoe out of treetops with a .22 rifle, or even a shotgun. Forrest Altman prefers a kinder, gentler way of harvesting the parasitic evergreen plant long associated with Christmas holiday romance.
For the past 30 years, the publisher and former Guilford College English professor has been leading canoeists and kayakers on an annual “Sprig Outing” along the Upper Little River, where low-hanging swamp branches make the use of firearms unnecessary.
“I do not subscribe to shooting it down,” said the 88-year-old Altman, who started the tradition as a fundraiser for a local conservation group. “Everybody who does this claims to be a crack shot and not destroy the mistletoe in the process. But I think it’s highly likely that anybody who shoots mistletoe down from trees is going to damage the tree AND the sprig.”
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