How-To

Snakes

Guest post by Ed Head, contributor for Shooting Gallery, Gun Stories and Down Range TV.

“Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?” — Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones and I have something in common—we don’t like snakes.

I can live with the harmless ones, even though they startle me when our paths meet, but the dangerous ones and I don’t get along at all. If you spend time working or recreating outdoors, you’re going to run into a venomous snake sooner or later and in my part of the country that’s going to be a rattlesnake. Here are a few examples:

  • Our old Border Patrol range was infested with rattlesnakes. I once killed 12 in three weeks on that range.
  • A student I was taking through a rifle course at Gunsite sat down to make a shot within two feet of a coiled Mojave rattlesnake. I got him away and killed the snake, but it was a close call.
  • Recently, a friend’s dog was bitten and killed by a rattlesnake. I know several people whose pets and horses have been bitten; some made it, some didn’t.
  • A friend was out bird hunting not long after retiring. Spotting a large rattlesnake, he decided to capture it and was bitten twice. He died in less than an hour.
  • A woman was bitten in the big toe when she stabbed a Mojave rattlesnake with a barbeque fork. She died 40 minutes later.
  • Recently a friend killed a small Western Diamondback rattlesnake he found on his property. Some time later, he picked up the severed head by the three inches or so of “neck” and the head turned and bit him in the finger. He barely survived the experience, spent a couple of days in the hospital and will recover eventually, although the effects of the bite will last for months or longer.

I once saw a man attempt to dispose of a Mojave rattlesnake by smacking it on the head with a shovel. The snake didn’t appreciate the gesture and came off the ground by several inches as it spun about and charged. The rather large man dropped the shovel, screamed like a girl and fled.

Another friend has killed “about a dozen” rattlesnakes so far this year in the vicinity of his house. Last year, he said he killed more than twenty. Personally, I would burn the house down and leave.

When I ride horses, folks sometimes ask if I wear a pistol so I can shoot snakes. Torching a round off while on horseback, especially if riding with others, seems likely to start a rodeo. With my luck, I would be bucked off and find myself on top of the snake. When atop a horse it’s much safer to carefully ride around the snake. This brings up a good point. If I’m in an area where the snake isn’t likely to be harmful to anyone I leave it alone. I don’t kill rattlesnakes just to kill rattlesnakes, but I won’t allow them to be where I live or work—the danger is just too great. And, should anyone be sympathetic to the plight of the poor snake and suggest capturing and relocating them, I can relate several more anecdotes where people were bitten attempting to do just that. As a matter of fact, something like 90% of the people bitten by rattlesnakes are bitten while handling the snake. If you don’t want to get hit, don’t touch them, whether “dead” or not. Speaking of dead snakes, the things can be downright creepy. I’ve seen beheaded snakes, even skinned ones, coil and strike for hours. I repeat: Don’t handle snakes!

A long handled hoe is probably the best tool for dispatching troublesome serpents, but I never seem to have one handy when a rattlesnake makes an appearance. These affairs have settled into something of a routine for me. Startled by the snake, I usually jump about 27 feet, thus handily establishing a world record only unrecognized due to the absence of an Olympic judge. Leaping straight up is ill advised, as coming back down upon the reptile is poor business (ask me how I know). Peering at the snake from my hastily assumed position, I determine if it’s dangerous, then draw my pistol and shoot the snake if necessary. While you might assume shooting snakes at close range is pretty easy, I can assure you it’s not. If you’re lust for a snakeskin hatband overwhelms your common sense and you decide to shoot the snake in the head to preserve the skin, you might find the head shot to be hard to make with ball ammunition. If the snake isn’t coiled, you can usually get it to go into a coil by kicking some gravel into its face providing a bigger target. If you aim at the bottom coil on hard ground, the bullet will usually bounce up through the coils and cause a lot of damage.

Better still, use pistol caliber snake shot to dispatch rattlesnakes. It’s easier to get a disabling hit and it can be fired with reasonable safety in places where you wouldn’t want to shoot defensive ammunition—like on your back porch alongside your house. Composed of a plastic capsule containing shot in place of a bullet, CCI manufactures a full line of pistol caliber shotshells from .22 Long Rifle calibers all the way up to .45 Colt. In my experience, the .22 shot loads are only effective at very close range and killing a snake usually requires several shots. The .38 Special shot loads work pretty well and the .44 Special, .45 ACP and .45 Colt shotshells are devastating when used on snakes from a safe distance—something like 5 or 6 feet away.

How you load the handgun for snakes requires a bit of thought. If you routinely pack a revolver in snake country, I recommend keeping one or two shot loads in the cylinder as the first round(s) to come up when you fire. An alternate method is to keep a couple of rounds of snake shot in your ammo carrier, ready to be loaded into the cylinder if needed. This method is slower, but if you’re a safe distance from the snake, speed isn’t required. Semiautomatic pistols can be carried with a shot round in the chamber, but I prefer to carry a spare magazine with a couple of snake loads. When needed, I simply execute a tactical reload, placing the snake magazine in the pistol, then rack the slide to eject the chambered round and replace it with a shot load. Some pistols have a little trouble chambering the shot loads, something that isn’t an issue with revolvers.

Do a little practicing with the handgun and load you plan to carry for snake defense. A snaky looking stick tossed on the ground makes a good target and you may find your shot goes a little high at these very short ranges and you will have to aim a little low. You can fire the shot loads on paper to get an idea how they pattern at different distances. Shorter barrels tend to throw wider patterns and longer barrels usually shoot a tighter pattern.

Finally, a little advice on cutting the heads off snakes: As I said before, if you don’t have to touch the snake, then don’t. Not being a fan of the often-advised method of stepping on the head of the snake and cutting it off with a pocketknife, I keep a machete in each of my vehicles and have a couple hanging in the tool shed and barn on my property. This gives me a little reach from the bitey end and I feel pretty safe using the machete to slice the head off. Note: I do not suggest chopping, because sometimes this results in the head flying off, usually in my direction. Once the head is removed, I dig a hole with the machete blade, scoop the head in and bury it.

Like I said, I don’t like snakes, but they are a part of life in the outdoors. If you’re alert and armed with the right tools, an encounter with a poisonous snake may be exciting, but it need not be deadly.

Click to see CCI shotshells in 9mm Luger, .22 LR and .45 Long Colt at Cheaper Than Dirt!

To read more about the best guns for killing snakes, read “Snake Guns” by clicking here.

Do you keep snake shot in your pistol or revolver? How do you protect yourself from poisonous snakes? Tell us in the comment section.

Ed Head is a regular on Shooting Gallery, Gun Stories and Down Range TV. He has worked for almost 30 years in law enforcement, first in the United States Air Force and then with the United States Border Patrol, retiring as a Field Operations Supervisor. During his Border Patrol career, Ed worked in a variety of patrol, investigative and training capacities. Ed has an extensive background as a firearms instructor, having trained thousands, ranging from beginners to police, military and special operations personnel. Having taught at Gunsite for 20 years, Ed first trained there under the world famous shooting school’s founder, Jeff Cooper, then later ran the school as the operations manager for more than five years. Ed lives in Chino Valley, Arizona, where he continues to teach and write. Used with permission. 

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (123)

  1. Our laws require you to notify the Natural Resources guys-who are supposed to take care of the problem. Harrumph! If they would have posed a real threat, I’d have shot them without hesitation. I heard later that our DNR people did dispose of them.

  2. You should have shot the dogs. Wild dogs are notorious wild game killers often killing for sport. Our Arizona Game and Fish dept. Encourages the killing of dogs gone wild.

  3. I try to utilize my Concealed Carry Permit everywhere I go, especially on my own property up here in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan. I have seen bear, cougar, wild pigs and wolves on my property and am constantly riding the wonderful trails available with my UTV. Recently my wife and I encountered a pack of 3 wild dogs that chased us for several miles. I had no problem keeping well ahead of them on my Polaris 2-seater, however my Judge pistol was loaded and ready with triple-ought and .45 LC if I had needed it. By the way, Michigan allows a legal owner to carry concealed on your own property without a CPL.

    1. Larry,

      Born in Grayling, lived in Kalkaska for some years and now live in Oregon. Miss Michigan sometimes. But, not the cities in the south, just everything north of Cadillac. Of course, that was a long time ago and things may have changed. I left in 1959.
      While in the Navy on active duty in Florida, I shot with the Sixth Naval District Rifle and Pistol Team. We were sent on some weekends to dispatch wild dogs. Too many apartment dwellers got big dogs and couldn’t keep them, so they just abandoned them. They formed into packs and endangered children and the elderly. What made them dangerous was that they had no fear of people and would band together and attack people Big dogs, German Shepards, Rottweilers,Dobermans and so forth. We, along with the police, were assigned to dispatch them.
      We used M-1 rifles in the countryside and shotguns in the suburbs. Occasionally, we shot the .45’s but were not supposed to. The dogs were really dangerous and aggressive and shooting them was most effective.
      They were also smart. By the second of third visit to an area, they knew we were threats and it made the shots, if any, a lot longer,. But, our match M-1’s were more than a match for the situation.
      However, the jacketed military ammo had a penetration problem even on big dogs, so we had to be careful of the background. Often it was in large fields and nothing behind us. Further, we were generally shooting at a slight downward angle and that meant that most of the pass throughs or misses hit the ground fairly soon. At least, that is what we wanted to believe. I never heard of any problems in our 6 or 8 months of hunting dog packs, so it could not have been too bad. After that, it was 8 months in the Mediterranean on the USS Saratoga. By the time we were back, the dog problems were pretty much solved. But, we did our part.
      In any event, as I imagine you know, be careful with those dogs, they are dangerous.

    2. Howdy Shipmate!
      Yep, I’m heading for Kalkaska to get my license plates soon as I eat some breakfast. I retired from the Navy in 81, and built me a log home just outside of Fife Lake on 40 acres. Love Michigan, but these winters are getting brutal on my ol’ butt. Not unusual to hit 30 below, altho the last 2 winters were OK.
      No stranger to wild dog hunting, as we had several packs running the jungle and ammo magazines on the ammo depot areas of Guam. Those “boonie” dogs were small but tough.

    3. Larry,

      Retired in 1991, after 31 years, 9 months and 19 days — but, who counted?
      We owned property just off Manistee Lake and my cousin has one of the largest holdings of lake front property there. He used to do most of the winter plowing in Kalkaska county for private businesses. He owns “The McCullen Company” that did a fair amount of construction in good weather and snow plowing in the winter.
      I remember the winters, not fondly but well. We used to ski behind the snow plows, like water skiing — but you had better remember to drop the tow rope whenever there was a bridge. Otherwise, you ride was going to come to an unexpected conclusion.
      I visited Guam several times, en-route to the Philippines, Australia, Korea or Japan. Walked across it once. Not my favorite place in the whole world but did not spend enough time there to really know what I was talking about. However, liked Diego Garcia better. Better diving and some really exotic sea shells. But, lots of shark in the lagoon. Found the wreck of a PBY-2 Catalina washed up on the beach and seriously corroded by the sea air. Always wondered about the story behind it.
      Anyway, if you get wintered out there, take a look at Oregon. Where we live now and not that bad a place — if you do not have to work for a living. The winters are shorter and not nearly as cold in the valley and on the coast. Sort of San Diego north without all the people.

  4. Roy Holbert……That’s a BIG copperhead. Wise to put him away…They are very colorful just after they shed, but hard to see along rocks,weeds,etc. by creek banks. Neighbor here in WV killed one just yesterday, coiled up beside his well.
    We are in much more danger from liberals and their mush-minded cronies than any reptile….

    1. Charlie in WV, thought that the liberal politicians in D.C. were reptiles. No, LOL, it is too tragic a thing that Americans have more to fear from their government than from a venomous snake.

    2. My wife doesn’t go into the back ranch area without her Bond derringer loaded with #8 shot 410..

  5. It has been my experience that rattlesnakes don’t like to be splashed with water. Since I normally come across them on horseback, I’m not about to get off my horse to kill a rattlesnake with my bare hands and riding boots, so I pull out my water bottle and give it a splash. I call it “snake be gone” because it goes away. I usually ride with my dog who has had snake avoidance training. Very effective thing to do for your dog.

  6. I’ve seen black snakes climb 12′ to get to a swallow’s nest, up the side of our guest house’s T-111 siding.

    I never saw it until the wife asked me what was that above my head.
    Good think I have a strong heart.

  7. I have a doctorate degree in applied physics. I still to this day CAN NOT explain how I and three others seen a 4 foot copperhead climb bottom to top of an aluminum sided house.IT devises all laws of physics, as well as logic. Within a week I had glass block basement windows, central air, window locks and geese.

    1. Zib*,
      I have a JD in law and I cannot explain snakes ability to climb either. However, in addition to working one summer at the Ross Allen Serpentarium in Silver Springs, Florida, I also worked part time at Philippi Park, not far from Safety Harbor, Florida. My uncle was park manager and was kind enough to employ his nephew, pretty much on my schedule of college classes during the school year.
      One of the tasks in the park was trimming palmetto fronds. Several times I or others saw and reported rattlesnakes at or above eye level in the palmetto. The shaft below the existing fronds would have already been stripped of fronds and, while not exactly smooth, offered no readily visible limbs, fronds or other traction enhancing parts. Yet, there the snake would be. They would be stretched out on several fronds and did not generally rattle, just lay stretched across the fronds.
      I doubt that they could coil and strike but if you grabbed a frond to hold while cutting it, you might have received a nasty surprise. I never saw or heard of one of those reclining rattlesnakes attempting to flee or avoid human contact. They generally would just lay on the fronds, possibly waiting for birds but I do not know that to be fact. Otherwise, why climb up the palm tree shaft?
      We were supposed to kill them, as park visitors included children and who would play around the areas completely unaware of the proximity of snakes.

    2. Snakes…as they move, so do they climb. The belly scales give them purchase on any but the very smoothest surface. Palm tree trunks would be easy.

  8. Charlie in WV, love your comments about copperheads and cottonmouths, having dealt with both, but mainly cooperheads where I lived in Oklahoma, they are aggressive little nastys. And sometimes, not so little. Lived in a rural area. Saw a copperhead crossing the road on to my property, must have been 6 ft. long. Never knew they got that big. Had a pretty dog, blue-tick mix, didn’t want her snake bit, nor me. A blast from my 20 ga. to the head stopped it. For all you tree and Bambi hugging, bleeding liberal hearts, you’ve never walked out you front door to struck at by a copperhead coiled up on your front steps, or you would be singing a different song. It happened to me so often, I always had my pistol with a rat shot round ready when I stepped outside.

  9. In nearly 50 years of living and hunting in the American Southwest, and over 20 years of living and hunting in the East, I’ve willfully killed exactly ZERO snakes. The only one I’ve accidentally killed was a small rattlesnake that died when I stepped on it accidentally while bowhunting in a dry creek bed in the San Gabriel mountains. Rattlesnakes are the most common snakes around my home, but only people who have recently moved here from the city kill the rattlesnakes – or people who have small children to worry about. The rest of us either leave them alone, or move them away from our houses. I’ve moved hundreds of them and have never even come close to being bitten. It takes a bit more skill to move them, than it takes to shoot them – which is probably why the city people kill them rather than learning how to avoid them or move them. If you can’t learn to live with the potentially dangerous things in Nature, then by all means, stay home and watch TV or confine your “adventures” to city parks. Try not to shoot the pit bulls in the city parks, even though they are potentially dangerous (more so than rattlesnakes). There are also people with guns, and they can be dangerous when provoked – so try not to shoot them either just because they carry guns (I’m one of them). It is also not unusual to find a mountain lion sleeping in your driveway here, or a bear in your swimming pool. Do your best not to shoot them either (I know it’s difficult, because they might be dangerous). There are some responsibilities that go with carrying a gun, and maybe the most important one is knowing when not to use it. Some people have a difficult time with that, and as a consequence, many people would like to see all of us disarmed – because WE might be “dangerous” to them.
    There are times when rattlesnakes probably need to be killed – especially by mothers with small kids. But the father of those small kids should learn not only how to kill them, but also how to move them somewhere far away from his kids. It’s an outdoor skill that most city people don’t have, and I understand that – so it really doesn’t bother me at all when they kill them. But I expect a little more from myself after more than 60 years of hunting all over the U.S. I don’t really want all the wild places “sanitized” for my benefit. We dislike ISIS because they behead people who did them no harm and were no danger to them. Is that the type of behavior you want to take into the wild places still left in this country? Are people with guns really indiscriminate killers of all things they are afraid of? Are hunters really just “killers”? Fearful people with guns, make me nervous. People who kill just for a “kick” also make me nervous. Yet it really doesn’t bother me when homeowners kill rattlesnakes on their property to protect their kids and pets. It might be a bit sad, but sometimes it just has to be done. Many people don’t have the time or the ability to relocate rattlesnakes, and it’s none of my business whether they kill them or not – and I seriously don’t have a problem with that. I do have a problem with people who are just looking for something to shoot with their new gun, or their new “snake” loads. Rattlesnakes are protected by Fish and Game for a reason – and there’s no penalty for killing a rattlesnake on your own property, or within the “bag limits” set by Fish and Game (2 rattlesnakes here where I live). Personally, I only kill what I’m going to eat, and I wouldn’t hesitate to kill a rattlesnake to eat if I were hungry and that’s all I could find to eat. Fortunately I’m a good enough hunter with either longbow or gun to be able to feed myself in wild places, and have never had to kill a rattlesnake to feed myself. And I’m certainly not going to kill one for any other reason, because for me at least, I don’t need to. What you do, is your business, as long as you don’t violate Fish and Game laws.

    1. You mention “city people” in a disparaging way. Well, I was born and raised in a city. In the East no less! Now I live in New Mexico and, while I certainly won’t go out of the way to kill a snake, when I found a rattlesnake on my porch, I killed it. There’s no shortage of rattlers around here so no worries about endangering them. But is if it’s on my porch it’s going to get killed. No waste though, I ate it.

    2. Mike,
      I wasn’t aware that telling the truth was in any way “disparaging”. If so, then that’s just the way it is. As for where you were born and where you live now, congratulations and welcome to the Southwest. And as for the rattler on your porch.. Well it IS your porch, right? Did you expect me to have an opinion on that? Many of the people around here have rattlesnakes in their yards, fields, on their porches, in their garages and sometimes in their houses. It doesn’t even warrant a conversation around here because, like housekeeping, it’s a non-event. It ranks right up there with dishwashing as a topic of conversation. We have a lot of them, and more this year than I can ever remember in the past – most likely due to the severity of the drought. I get tired of “deporting” them over the mountain, and have no hard feelings with those few who feel they have to kill them instead (usually because of their kids) – nor do most of them have a disagreement with me over my deporting them, as long as I take them far enough away that they won’t come back any time soon. BUT… A few are outraged by those who kill them, and are also outraged because I deport them. They feel like they should be able to call the Sheriff’s department or the fire department, because they are having “an emergency” when a rattlesnake shows up – and are further outraged by the poor service they are receiving from the Sheriff and fire departments. (I’ll leave you to guess where those people come from, but you only get 3 guesses and the first two don’t count). Some of those people move back into more populated areas, and some of them eventually relax and become pretty good people to be around.

      We have way, way, too many rattlesnakes around here this year and they are about as “endangered” as flies and mosquitoes. (Significantly, we have almost NO rodents around here this year as a result). But even though I have always hunted, I take no pleasure in seeing the death of any creature. So I move the rattlesnakes for the selfish reason of not having to watch them die. If I found it necessary (a kid too close, for instance), it wouldn’t bother me any more than finishing off a mashed cat along the highway that was suffering. It’s just something that has to be done, so get it over with and get on with it. But on MY porch, that rattlesnake isn’t going to scare anyone, or harm anyone – so I’ll move it when I get a few minutes to put it in a barrel and drive it over the mountains. I promise not to try to tell you what to do on your porch, if you promise not to tell me what to do on mine. Does that sound fair?

      And try as I might, I can’t help but be impressed by the fact that you ate the snake rather than burying it or throwing it in the trash. It’s something I would probably do if it ever came down to it – and I would try to do it justice in the kitchen. Wasting entirely edible creatures just doesn’t seem right – to me. Other people have to decide for themselves what constitutes “waste”, or what’s edible, and I’m not even slightly interested in judging them. Good luck, and thanks for the comments.

  10. Over 50 years as a herpetologist and handgun licensee in NY State have taught me that even rattlesnakes don’t want to be near you. Encountered far from human habitation, they don’t need to be killed. You don’t have to like them to back away and not shoot them. If you do kill one, ask yourself if it was really for “sport,” because it was exciting, or because it made you feel macho.

  11. The gentlemen are absolutely correct. I lived 18 years in the Superstition Mountains. Killed probably 6 diamondbacks and a couple of Green Mojave’s. Now I get to put up with Copperheads. A hoe is your best friend! More people are bitten by Copperheads, they like to confront you.
    I had a friend in Tennessee who swore that a chainsaw would bring in Copperheads. If possible leave them alone!

  12. I caught and sold rattlers to Ross Allen back in the 60’s . Gasoline poured out of a coke bottle, down a garden hose, always brought them out of the gopher tortoise holes. Only used a few drops of gas, then blew the fumes through the hose. Don’t remember them being lethargic….mostly PO’d and hard to put in the sacks. Hunted along the Tomoka River mostly.
    The guy who said snakes are only defensive must not have met many Cottonmouths or northern Copperheads. Most of them would follow you home to bite you.

    1. Dunne
      Obviously you are a tree hugging liberal who has absolutely no sense about the wild, as Stephen says you are the one who is ignorant and hopefully one day you might survive the snake bite you receive because you tried to walk away from that snake that you already have walked too close too before you saw it.
      It really is sad people like you are allowed to reproduce.

    2. Peoples opinions, are sometimes decided by watching to many Disney outdoors movies about cute fuzzy little animals, and not based in reality. Mother Nature is unforgiving,, and will kill you if given a chance, and by ignorance.

    3. Lance,
      Thanks for the nice comments before about Silver Springs and Ross Allen’s Serpentarium. In some respects, it was one of the best times of my life and so it meant a great deal to me.
      In this case about Dunne and his comments, and your response, I completely agree. Some people insist on forming uninformed opinions and then choose to elevate them to the level of a religious belief. In my opinion, you could not be more correct. Many years of experience with nature and it is just what it is and nothing more. It does not share human feelings, beliefs but instead operates on some primitive, programmed level. Snakes are a part of nature and they are not miniature humans that slither around on their stomachs. Nor, are they highly rational, thinking beings.
      On the other hand, maybe Dunne shares more with snakes than I initially realized. If you understand how Dunne thinks, then you can understand how ISIS terrorists can feel it is God’s calling to behead or burn Christians because of their belief. Same sort of mind set, just different basic focus. They are always right and any one who disagrees is stupidly wrong.
      One of my favorite sayings: “You are entitled to your own opinions; but, you are not entitled to your own facts”. Dunne has moved from opinion to assuming it is fact, probably because it is what he wants it to be — but, that is not what it is. Nature, and snakes, could care less about his opinion and if he makes a mistake, the snake will bite and not give him a pass just because he thinks it should.

    4. Well said and absolutely right. With nature, you get it right the first time. If you miss a beat you may get away with it , or not. And if not, there are no do overs.
      ISIS is a snake. To kill the snake……you cut off the head….
      Be safe…

  13. I know what you mean about rattlers as I was been bitten by one many years ago & it still gives me nightmares. A friend & I were dove hunting in Central Texas when we walked into a den area. There was at lease one rattlesnake under every bush & others crawling out of every crack in the ground. Thank God for a 12ga shot gun & plenty of shells.

  14. I winter in central Florida now and spend a good bit of time hunting hogs. I carry a S&W 357 with 3 rounds of snake loads and 3 JHP rounds. The 3 snake rounds are 1st up then the JHP in case of a PO’d tusker.

  15. I’m definitely a gun guy, but I don’t understand this snake shooting mentality.

    Snakes don’t actively chase and attack people (if they do, then by all means shoot away). They typically coil up and show they mean business. If you have time to draw your firearm, you definitely have time to just walk away.

    As stated before, snakes play an important part in our ecosystem. Do you really like the idea of an out of control diseased rodent population?

    Now if you have a dangerous snake is on your property, I’d suggest relocating it if you can. If you don’t know how to move it safely, then call someone that does (animal control?).

    I dunno, maybe it’s just me– but I feel that shooting a snake should be a last resort. Just my 2 cents.

  16. When I was in college in South Carolina I had several runins with snakes.
    One summer I worked with a Engineering firm. We were measuring ground locations for setting steel beams. As I walk in to a spot to set a mark I was walking through a tall group of pompass grass. As I got closer to where I had to set the pole I heard the rattle of its tail. I turned around and walked back out. As I was explaining the situation to my crew a job
    lead man, A black guy who was tall and big, asked me where it was, I showed him and he went in with a bush axe. In a few seconds he yelled out to inquire if this was where I heard it and I said yes. At that point, he reached down and lift up a rattle snake over his head. It was dead the head was gone and he had himself a nice trophy.
    Another time, we were surveying a property along the Savanna river on the SC and GA line. Since I was the lead man, each morning I was given the revolver to carry out front. Many time you could hear me unloading the .357 on or into a nest of cotton mouths. One of the supervisors would claim the dead snakes and cook them up for lunch or dinner. It was a very strange job that summer.

  17. Actually, if you can identify the species snake to the doctors treating you it will help with the treatment. So, kill it and bring it, less the head , with you . or take a picture of it. Have someone else do this for you if possible, remain calm, and seek medical treatment ASAP

    1. ASAP IS RIGHT! The faster, the better. Learn how to treat snake bites and how to use an EPI-PEN
      (Epinephrine). If someone is allergic to snakes or spiders (or any thing else), they will die without the med injected into the blood system within several minutes. Always carry a tourniquet and an EPI-PEN and tell your partner how and when to use them. It will save your life.

  18. Interesting article.
    I’m sitting here at the computer now, looking at an 8-coil set of rattles from a run in with a Western diamondback that was coiled and ready to strike me while dirt-biking up near Corona in California. I spotted him directly ahead of me and lifted my legs (probably completely backwards over my head!) and he missed. I knew my friends 11-year old son was right behind me about 100 yards so I dumped my ol’ Yammy IT175, and waved him off, then got a big-ass rock and smashed the bugger to a pulp. I cut off his head (carefully) and rattles off, and discovered he had a second set of fangs a couple inches down his throat. Apparently the Western diamondback have them, but the Eastern DB’s don’t. I heard the second set weren’t poisonous, but used to help grip their favorite food, the ground squirrel. Some snake guy told me that the noise and vibrations from my bike probably aggravated him. I had another run-in back in Virginia with a thoroughly pissed of cottonmouth while fishing in my jon-boat. onbase at Dam Neck .He shot right off from the bank and charged the boat like he was after me. I goosed the throttle and beached the boat about 50 yards up, where my family was camped-and I swear to God, that damned thing swam right up to where I beached, climbed right up the bank and headed for us. I finally grabbed the firewood ax, and chopped its danged head off. My Dad just about had a heart attack when he saw the snake heading for the picnic table. I have never been afraid of snakes, and actually I’ve been interested in them-but those 2 episodes were a little over the top.
    When I’m out west prospecting , or down south I carry a Judge and the first 2 rounds are handloaded .45 LC with #4 shot. I shot a copperhead with it once, and it pretty much took the whole head off.

  19. The .22 LR and .22 Mag shot shells are the only ones with #12 shot, all the rest of CCI ‘s are loaded with #9 shot which has too many gaps in the pattern. I get the empty capsules and load them with #12 shot. I use either a 45 Colt or 44 Spl revolver when I’m out and about here in the southwest and those loads will quickly dispatch a rattler. This method was written up by Mike Venturino in Handloader Mag.

  20. Used to hunt Timber rattlers along the Appalachian Trail. Found / shot a dandy with CCI 45acp snake load. Cut off head & buried under large rock. Put headless snake in backpack and headed off mountain. Felt the snake coiling and striking against my back for approx. 45 min…….very spooky.

  21. I understand that snakes, particularly venomous snakes, inspire visceral loathing in some people. But in a great majority of cases killing a snake is simply unnecessary. If it hasn’t bitten you or your animal it will go away without any confrontation if it is otherwise undisturbed. If it has already bitten you, nothing other than revenge is accomplished by killing it. Leave snakes alone and let them continue to kill rats and such whose diseases CAN kill us.

  22. In the 60’s I visited a local, personal museum in the CA Foothills. The Owner Rick was all or mostly Sioux, late 60s or into his 70s.. His wife was a descendant of the original homesteaders. The museum (really their collections) was housed in part of the original ranch house, built about 1859. As typial for a such a house the family has added onto it several times. It was by no means a tight structure.

    I spotted a small live rattlesnake (maybe 18 inches long) coiled under one of the display cases. It must have followed mice in throughsome small hole in the wall or foundation.

    Rick picked up a Rolling Block Remington 22 (circa 1890’s?) from a display in his collections and loaded a 22 shot cartridge. He aimed carefully and from about 6 feet shot the snake through neck behind the head, leaving the head still connected to the body. He said you should use a shot cartridge so you had no bullet bouncing around the house and try to leave the head attached to the body. He then described having killed another rattler in the house, then searching for a long time for the head because it had blown off the body.

  23. I second that motion Chris, I’ve ran across many snakes in my life and only killed one. I wanted to know what it taste like. Water Moccasin is just as tasty as anything else you put on a grill.

    1. Taste like a cross between chicken and frog. Depends on the seasoning too tho. Season salt and pepper is the way to go in my book

  24. For about 20 years I’ve used a .44as the ranch/house gun. Empty chamber under the hammer, then 2 .44 CCI shot shells then 3 Hollow points. Shots for the snakes and hollow points for anything bigger.
    Also have a Savage 24V thats .30.30 0n top and 20 Guage below. It been a great truck/jeep gun.

    1. Well, if he’s talking about an old style single action, with the firing pin on the hammer, it makes lots of sense. Load one, skip one, and load the rest. Then your hammer rests on an empty chamber…safety first

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