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by Larry Chesney | Jun 5, 2020 | BIG GAME, HUNTING, Slider
Snake Tales: Too-Close-for-Comfort Snake Encounters


As I reached up with the rope, I found myself eye-to-eye with a very large cottonmouth moccasin. Like, really large.
You probably won’t find this a shocking news flash, but most folks don’t like snakes. Even at the sight of one, most will flee for shelter, or grab the nearest long-handled farm implement to dispatch the slimy devil beast. I have one co-worker who can’t even look at a picture of a snake without going into hyperventilation. Needless to say, we show him full color photos from Journal of Herpetology almost daily.
While I’m not paralyzed with fear or loathing at the sight of a snake, I do have a healthy respect for them. Whenever I’m hunting or fishing in and around their likely haunts, I keep an eye out for Mr. No-Shoulders.
Over the years, I’ve had run-ins with a few of the dangerous varieties. Despite close-calls however, I’ve apparently carried a snake-proof golden horseshoe in my back pocket – my only bite coming from a harmless black snake that I was messing with and deserved his indignation.
No, I’ve never been bitten and rushed to the hospital for anti-venom treatment or forced to make two X marks at the bite site with my hunting knife. Nevertheless, I’ve had some pretty dicey snake encounters that made for some colorful memories.

Venomous pit vipers include the rattlesnakes, of which there are about 30 species; the water moccasin, or cottonmouth; and the copperhead (shown).
Copperheads are plentiful in the Southeast where I reside, and they have a real knack for camouflaging themselves among a ground cover of pine needles, sticks and assorted leaves. I was scouting one morning, following a deer trail through just such a setting, when I noticed movement in the detritus near me. First to my left. Then to my right. Then ahead and behind. Quickly I realized I had walked into a nest of baby copperheads. I am pretty sure I registered a world-record standing broad jump that morning. Fortunately, the weather was on the cool side and the little buggers were semi-dormant.
Chuck Wechsler and I were hunting wild hogs on a Georgia island several years ago. I sat the evening overlooking an opening in the palmettos where hog sign was abundant. Just before dark, a big, black boar appeared and I fired my 30.06.
Unfortunately, he took off into the near darkness. After Chuck and I searched with flashlights, we determined we’d have to return the next morning.
I went back after first light and picked up the blood trail. It led into a tunnel of palmettos. On hands and knees, I inched my way into the tangle, hoping not to startle a pissed-off pig. Instead, I had disturbed a full-grown copperhead, now coiled and hissing three feet from my nose. If there ever was a “speed-crawling-backwards” Olympics category, I would have qualified hands-down. By the way, I did find the hog after a long detour.
Lakes Marion and Moultrie in the Lowcountry of South Carolina provide a lot of great fishing opportunities. One of my favorites is tying up to a live cypress tree along a swampy edge and dropping a lively minnow straight down to a fat white crappie.
Several years back, my wife from an earlier marriage and I, along with another couple, were in a 16-foot boat doing exactly that. I spotted a likely looking cypress with thick green foliage, and a bit of shade from the June sun. “Let’s tie up there,” I said, before walking up to the bow to tie off to a limb. Tim let off the throttle and the boat drifted slowly to the tree. As I reached up with the rope, I found myself eye-to-eye with a very large cottonmouth moccasin. Like, really large. He (maybe she, I didn’t check) had been napping apparently, and his wide-open eyes indicated that I was the alarm clock.
The boat was still drifting into the limbs, so I grabbed the nearest branch and shoved away. By that time, I had screamed “snake!” and all hands were fleeing to the back of the boat, including myself.
So far, so good, right? The boat drifted away from the tree, but within ten feet, the stern hit another tree. That collision was enough to jar an equally humongous moccasin loose from his resting spot. He fell out of the tree, on to the top of the motor, and then flopped on to the transom.
Four screaming adults began sprinting back to the bow at top speed. The poor snake, no doubt scared spitless, managed to roll off the transom and into the lake.
While hunting in Mozambique a few years back, my PH, Johnny, wanted me to let one of the native guides call in a tiny duiker. I was none too crazy about it but was handed an 870 pump shotgun, and Johnny, the two guides and I settled our backs against a large baobab tree.
After a few distress calls from a hand-cut reed, I watched the brush around us for one of the tiny deer to appear. Suddenly the two guides jumped up and ran. Johnny, in that typical PH calm, said quietly, “You should run.” He then took off. Ten feet away, we all watched the 8-foot black python slipping down the trunk intent on devouring the injured animal. Upon seeing the source of the commotion was, instead, four humans, the giant snake disappeared into a knot hold a few feet above where we’d been seated.
He probably wouldn’t have attempted to eat one of us, but still…
So, remember to give every snake its space. They do a lot more good than harm. And they can be downright entertaining!
 
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Wait until you see a five foot black snake crawling down the hallway toward the bedroom. That's a close encounter. A day later , another one IN the bedroom. The M15 and CCI shotshells dispatched both. I didn't sleep very well for the next few nights.
 

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In Fla, I'd be more worried about 'Gators.... and bugs.
 

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Two Thanksgivings ago, I was on a GA quail plantation with a buddy and a guide. Walking along a jeep rut trail, the guide yells my name. As I whirl around he is jumping away as fast as he can from a 3-4 foot copperhead that was sunning itself in grass right at the edge of the road. He damn near stepped right on him. My 20 gauge did the trick at ~8 feet away. Used to get one now and again in my swimming pool in central Florida; harmless black snakes, but they were hard to reloacte back to the bushes...........
 

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When I was young I reached into an above-eye-level bin that was supposed to hole plumbing fittings and came up with a black snake instead.

Twice I've stepped on snakes and had them wrap around my leg.

Have only seen one venomous snake, a rattlesnake to date. It was trying to get under a lady's house but her little dog blocked it. Her son in law teased it with a gunny sack before shooting it with a 2" S&W M15.

FWIW, it didn't sound anything like the rattlesnakes sound on TV. Very fast 'rattle', so fast that it was a buzzing sound. Something that I'd always attributed to grasshoppers.
 

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In Ocala, it was roaches love bugs and palmetto bugs; up in north Florida it is ANTS, gnats and skeeters.......
 

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FWIW, it didn't sound anything like the rattlesnakes sound on TV. Very fast 'rattle', so fast that it was a buzzing sound. Something that I'd always attributed to grasshoppers.
I suppose that's why the call them buzz-tails in the Texas Panhandle! I used to run into them 🐍 4 or 5 times a year when I was walking pipeline routes. Learned to look before EVERY step. Closest call was when I was a couple miles from the nearest roadway, hot, tired, looking forward to getting back to the truck. Small trickling stream crossed my path in otherwise dense vegetation. Slight sandy bank on both sides. So, I walked up to it and began to step over the stream onto the other sandy bank. Cutest little prairie rattler you ever saw was stretched out like a dead stick right where I was going to put my foot. It was amazing the increased energy I found to walk 100 yards around where the little fellow was taking his morning nap.
 

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Gawd, snake tails (tales), I got a million of em.

We had a place in Rosharon, Tx. just south of Houston. It was an old rice farm homestead that was surrounded by flooded rice fields much of the year.
I never saw so many crawlin critters in my life. I could always tell "good snakes" from the moccasins because "good snakes" would flee but moccasins would attack by coming after you.
One of our property lines was a rice field irrigation canal. Imagine my horror when my kids came inside to tell me that they found a "slide" down the bank, into the water. They were using it for a swimming hole until I ruined the fun by telling them that they were on a gator slide....yikes.

Years later we have relocated to the Texas Hill Country.
Here we have rattlesnakes and copperheads.
We kill a few every season. My favorite method of dispatch is from the safety of my seat on the tractor while running over them with the mower deck.
My wife is equally adept with her 20 gauge double barrel at taking snakes and treed porcupines.

I guess my "close call" story goes back a season or two ago.
I was reaching toward the mesquite stack for a piece to throw in the smoker when my upbringing told me to look before you reach...A baby rattler layin right on the top of the wood stack.
Hey, this is the reason that I never go out to work without long britches, boots, hat, and a pistol. Looking like a cowboy ends up being an unintended consequences when you are prepared for what's waiting for you out there.

A guy I work with was always kidding me about my hat and boots. Needless to say he is from "up yonder". One morning he wanted to go out in the yard at work to do a little project. I pointed to his loafers and asked him if he knew about Red Bugs? He laughed and asked if this was more of my home spun Texas humor. Then I asked about a hat....drew another smirk from him.

I was the one laughing....for about the two weeks it took for his head to peel and the bites on his ankles to heal.
 

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I give snakes on my Central Texas small ranch free lead at high velocity when I run into them.

We have a variety of snakes here. I carry any one of a variety of weapons. Right now, it is a S&W 22 LR revolver.
 

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And here I am somebody who loves the non venomous ones and wants them to stick around!
I do, too, but sometimes that comes back to bite you.

Last summer , as I pulled into my driveway, there was a medium size gray snake laying on the concrete. I stopped the truck right beside him and looked down at him. My guess is that it was a blue racer. It was obvious he was alive, so I went to the garage to get my 'snake handler,' a piece of 3/4 inch PVC with a rope loop on one end. My intention was to move him to the weedy area just south of our hard. No harm to the snake intended.

As I retrieved the snake handler, I didn't notice that I'd knocked a cardboard tube into the garage door track. I pushed the button to close the 2 car garage door and disaster ensued. When the rollers hit that tube, it bent the rails, sent wheels flying everywhere, and left the door standing half open at about a 30 degree angle. I still had the snake to deal with. He'd moved but I could see his head above the grass, watching me.

As I approached, he took off and climbed to the top of a 15' Maple tree, out of my reach.

Now I DID mean him harm. I keep a .45 Colt Ruger Blackhawk with shot capsule loads laying around just for venomous snakes.

Armed with the .45, I approached the treed snake. But I couldn't shoot him. I've gone soft in my old age.

I went inside and called the garage door repairman.
 

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The only good snake is a dead snake.

When I was a kid growing up in Mexico (Guadalajara, to be precise) in the 1960s, I sometimes climbed a dormant volcano up to the rim overlooking the caldera. The caldera was filled with water, perhaps 100 yards from the rim. I would lie prone, with my trusty well-worn Winchester bolt action .22lr rifle and a couple hundred rounds of ammo, and shoot floating water snakes for hours, just to watch them sink. I would commonly sink 100, or so, snakes in an afternoon. The water snakes did not climb up to the rim of the volcano.

It is fun to kill snakes. I have killed lots of snakes, and I intend to kill lots more snakes.
 

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When I was a teenager in the late 1950s in New Mexico, I was walking next to a stream. I stepped on the tail of a rattlesnake that was under some leaves and long grass. It flipped back and struck about an inch under the top of my boot that was covered by my jeans. I jumped about twenty feet. I came back and shot it with my .22. Its rattles had been crushed.

I was with a teenage girl by the same stream. We crossed it walking over a log. I went across and waited for her. She got about to the middle when a moccasin came swimming upstream. She screamed and landed in the water near the moccasin. The moccasin went fast down stream and I swear she ran on top of the water the other direction.

By the time I was in high school, I had a shoe box full of rattles.
 

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I'm sure some of you have seen this before.
472688

Ol' Cooter and I were out checkin' critters one spring and he stepped off into this mess.
You wanna talk about a horse blowin' up, that ol pony bout turned hisself inside out gittin' out of that hole.
You talk about buckin',that horse was puttin' on a show.
I told him "Buck all you want old Hoss, I ain't comin' off today!"

That was the best saddle bronc ride I ever made and there warn't a soul there to see it..😕
 

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I'm sure some of you have seen this before.
View attachment 472688
Ol' Cooter and I were out checkin' critters one spring and he stepped off into this mess.
You wanna talk about a horse blowin' up, that ol pony bout turned hisself inside out gittin' out of that hole.
You talk about buckin',that horse was puttin' on a show.
I told him "Buck all you want old Hoss, I ain't comin' off today!"

That was the best saddle bronc ride I ever made and there warn't a soul there to see it..😕
Flame Thrower and C-4!!! Sincerely. bruce.
 
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