Last updated: February 19. 2013 9:04PM - 194 Views

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LILLINGTON, N.C. (AP) — 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 retired Guilford College English professor has been leading canoeists and kayakers on an annual Sprig Outing along the Upper Little River south of Raleigh, where low-hanging swamp branches make the use of firearms unnecessary.

Instead of guns, Altman uses long poles with hooks on their ends.

Mistletoe grows on a variety of trees and is harvested commercially in orchards, as well as in the wild. But the sprigs gathered on this expedition are for personal use and gifting.

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