I spent Sunday helping a hunting friend, Larry, pull some stands from a piece of property he was no longer going to be hunting. He had two lock-on stands that we were having to take down. As we got out of the truck at the first stand, Larry was taking some time on the other side of the truck rummaging around in the back floorboard. As he walked around the truck he handed me a 45 Automatic, gave me a quick “here is the safety” speech and told me it had snake shot in it. So as usual I go into the 100 questions about what was a snake shot, how big the pattern was…yada, yada, never actually thinking I would have the opportunity to use the gun. Hmmm, was I even paying attention when he told me it had TWO safety mechanisms on it??
As we walked through the woods to the beaver pond I could tell the ground was getting pretty moist and muddy. I remember thinking that this would be a good place for a snake. When we got to the edge of the pond, Larry had just put the backpack down and had stepped into the edge of the pond to walk to the tree base about 10-15 feet away that the climber was hanging in. Just about the time his ankles were submerged I saw movement out of the corner of my right eye. A cotton mouth was glidding across the top of the water quickly straight toward Larry. In one lunge Larry was back standing on dry ground saying, “hand me the gun! Give me the gun!” I pulled it from the holter as the snake lunged another 4-5 feet to the base of the tree. Larry shot two quick shots and the snake was hit.
Larry pulled the snake away from the water top at the base of the tree and had him on a long limb. He wasn’t dead. Larry told me to shoot him again. After I took the shot and it was obvious he was dead, I had to get a little closer and check him out. That was one of the most aggressive snakes that I have ever seen. That makes the fifth deadly poisonous snake that I have encountered this year within close range; and some within breathing distance.
Last year I attended a hog hunt in Jacksonville, Florida where I had the pleasure of listening to a presentation by Maynard Cox. Mr. Cox is a Navy Veteran who resides in Orange Park, Florida and is known as “The Snake Man”. This presentation shot down a lot of the old myths about snakes and snake bites that I have heard over the years. As a herpetologist and snakebite specialist, Mr. Cox has written a short book that dispells myths and tells you exactly what you should do if you are ever snake bitten. The book can be purchased by contacting the author at 904-264-6512.
I keep Maynard Cox’s card in my first aid kit because it has a short reminder of what to do and what not to do, as well as his 24/7 contact information. Mr. Cox has been known to assist hospitals near and far on treating snakebit patients. He should be an expert since he has been bitten in excess of 143 times in his lifetime. His stresses that it is important that a snake bite victim should be kept from going into shock. One of his favorite quotes is “If the face is read, raise the head. If the face is pale, raise the tail.” Of course, as he would say, that is the snake bite victim he is referring to; NOT the snake.
As I would say, wearing your snake boots never hurts–at least after you get them broke in.
© Nancy Jo Adams 2009