Timber Rattlesnake

Timber Rattlesnake

A rattlesnake Richard killed last month at the lodge w/9 rattles.

A rattlesnake Richard killed last month at the lodge.

This past weekend, Richard and I started doing some scouting and moving some cameras on some trails. We put 7 cameras out and walked about an hour and a half scouting on the North side of the property. I was wanting to get familiar with this area because it is the same area that I hunted during bow season last year and wanted to spend some time in the area this upcoming season. My main problem last season was that I was walking close to a bedding area and kept running deer out on my way in every morning. Wanting to keep that pressure off of the deer this season, it was time for me to find a new way into the area.

We rode into the area on the four-wheeler and parked it on the main road. We walked out into the woods with game camera in tow. As we started getting deeper into the woods and was going down an embankment, Richard said loudly “Look-a-there.” I snatched my head up expecting to see a fawn laying in the leaves. But at the instant I snatched my head up and stopped–I heard it–the distinct sound of rattlers from a rattlesnake. About 10 feet out to the left side of Richard was a four foot plus dark colored rattlesnake, curling around to face Richard, rattles rattling away. I instantly felt chills run up my spine and the hair stand up on the nap of my neck. I gave that snake a wide birth as I walked another 10 feet out around it.

I told Richard that I don’t know what I was thinking when I left the house and that we should have worn our snakeproof boots. He said that it crossed his mind and I laughed and said “yeah, a snake bite too late.” We walked another 20-30 yards and placed the game camera on a main trail and walked away from the area in the opposite direction of the four-wheeler. We had some scouting to do. We searched for loaded whiteoaks and made sure the ones in the area I hunted last year were barren this year–just in case 🙂 !! We found some great trails, red oak, white oak and some great trees for climbers and ladder stands. We spent over an hour walking the area, the creek, and funnels.

We were headed back through a beautiful area that made us cross two really deep revenes. On the other side was some of the prettiest woods I think I have encountered on our property. Richard mentioned that it had not been hunted much. We stopped to view the tops of some white oak trees with our binoculars for acorns. Finding some and getting excited about the area we decided to walk over some of the area thinking this would be the perfect place for both of us to hunt in the same general area but a pretty good way from each other, keeping the pressure off the deer and each other.

Walking through an open area with an abundance of tree canopy cover, Richard had glanced up as he was walking and was looking toward the tops of several trees telling me that one would be perfect for a climber. I was walking about 6-8 feet behind him and just happened to glance down as I was making my next step. Right under my next foot fall, a mere 4 inches was a timber rattler coiled up in a foraging position. I quickly snatched my leg up and hopped backward with all my weight, how that was possible when every ounce of momentum had already executed and all but made that next step is beyond me. I said loudly “Oh Crap” (well, it didn’t come out that nicely!!). I quickly walked backwards about 6 feet and leaned against a tree. Richard said “What!” loudly and turned around about 6 feet from the snake. He could not believe that he had just walked within inches of that snake. He is usually so aware of EVERYTHING around him in the woods that we were both shocked. This snake blended so well with the leaves on the ground.

The rattlesnake started sucking in air and blowing its body up. It was about as long as the other but only had about 5 rattlers and a button. I instantly felt hot, cold, sick, and dizzy all at once and needless to say the bottle of water I drank almost got wasted down my legs. That was an experience to say the least. This rattlesnake was not as aggressive as the one we had encountered earlier, but just as deadly. It took a minute for the queasiness to pass and I was able to give that snake a wide birth and leave the area. Promising myself that we would not come back into these woods without our snakeboots on, at least until it was too cold for snakes to be foraging.

I have added a task to my pre-season “To Do” list: take snakeproof boots down from the shelf and waterproof and condition them for the season….I plan to wear some tread off the soles.

© Nancy Jo Adams 2009