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Springtime rattlesnakes
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This is the time of year when my thoughts turn to catching rattlesnakes. Some folks think that my hobby of catching live rattlers is a poco loco, and who knows? Maybe they’re right.  

You’ve got admit though, catching rattlers is exciting.  This is the time when the snakes are just coming out of hibernation, and the hills are green and studded with beautiful flowers. Unfortunately, It’s also the time of year when rattlesnakes come out of their winter hibernation.

Last year, my long time snake catching partner, Don McGeein, went off to that Great Trout Stream in the Sky. Don was a darned good amateur taxidermist and did a great job mounting some of the snakes we would catch.  I miss him. Rattlers make great hatbands and belts. While I’m not a taxidermist, I am able to skin and tan rattlers and make them into rattler hatbands. 

Over the years Don McGeein and I worked out a pretty good system for catching the rattlers and putting them into the sack. I have snake proof leggings that reach up to our knees, and four foot long snake grabbers that  I grab the little beggars with. When one of us grabs a snake the other guy holds open a cloth drawstring bag while the snake is carefully lowered into the sack. About 15 years ago Don spotted a nice rattler sunning himself on a pile of logs and my son Bo managed to catch his first rattler. Bo handled the snake quite well and lowered him into the bag which I was holding open as old Don took pictures for the historic occasion After we had properly gassed the snake with ether,  we measured him at a respectable 42 inches including his 10 rattles.

Hopefully, you’re not as crazy as I am, and don’t go out searching for rattlers.  But the fact of the matter is, if you spend much time outdoors you might run across a rattler.  More often than not, most rattlers are not very aggressive and will avoid you if they can. If you should find a rattler, your best course of action is to simply back away and leave it alone.  Chances are, if you leave the snake alone, it will leave you alone.  In fact, oftentimes, it will go the other way even when you’ve provoked it. 

Your best defense is really quite simple: Watch where you walk.  It’s not very exotic, but all you have to do is get into the habit of looking down every few seconds.  That way, you know where you’re going to be putting your feet, and you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble.  Not only will you be able to avoid snakes, but you will reduce your chance of falling on a loose rock and maybe twisting an ankle or breaking a leg. Don’t step over logs or rocks either; step on top of the log or rock.  The reason for this is simple; rattlesnakes like to hide under logs and rocks. 

 Another wise idea to consider if you spend much time afield is to get one of the modern snake bite kits called “The Extractor”. They are ten times more effective than the old suction cup type, and are readily available from your local pharmacy at about $15. 

It’s cheap insurance and great peace of mind. Another precaution you might want to take if you spend much time in snake country is to get your dog vaccinated with rattlesnake vaccine. It is a series of two shots given six weeks apart and is quite affordable.

The outdoors can be an amazing amount of fun, and if you watch where you walk, it will most likely stay fun. Remember: Watch where you walk. You’ll be glad you did.


Until next week, 

Tight Lines