I hate snakes! For most of my life I have believed that the only good snake is a dead snake. And even then, I don’t want to be any where near one. However, after moving to the farm I have realized there is such a thing as a good snake. Take the Bullsnake, for example. It is nonvenomous and will eat field mice. I don’t like mice or rats either, so I could probably learn to be okay with Bullsnakes.
In the past 10-20 years our land has really seen some major environmental changes. Like much of the state, our quail population, which was once thriving, is all but eliminated. Occasionally we might be lucky enough to see one, but that is rare. The farm used to have many Bullsnakes, but in all my time visiting and now living out here I have yet to see a single one. We have, however, seen an increase in the very venomous Copperheads. My husband killed three last year, as did one of our neighbors. This year, between 4 sets of neighbors (all in surrounding pastures), they have killed at least 17! We had been luckily enough not to see one….until yesterday.
We are blessed to have a few pecans trees on the farm. Last weekend, we went to checking them to see if the nuts were ready. Most of the trees resulted in nothing because the birds and/or rodents had already gotten to ever single shell. We did end up finding one large tree that still had plenty of pecans available. We were limited on time, so I added it to my ever growing “To Do” list for this week. Yesterday I decided I need to gather all that I could before the rain came today and possibly destroyed the ones on the ground.
Brad was working, so I put on my beloved snake boots, grabbed a box to collect the nuts, a stick to knock ’em down, and headed over the the woods. I was mainly focused on the ground and there were quite a few pesky thorny blackberry bushes that were hiding my treasure. As I was squatted down gently maneuvering through the thorns I spotted the devilish creature curled up not even two feet away from my hand. I could immediately tell that it was the dreaded Copperhead.
Adrenaline rushed through me as I simultaneously popped up and back. Other than bugs, spiders, and scorpions (a post for another day), I have never killed anything in my life. I leave the killing to my manly husband. Since he was no where around I knew I had to do this on my own. I did try to reach him by phone first for moral support, but got no answer. Luckily, a few weeks before he had patiently helped me practice shooting a few guns. Growing up I was always afraid of guns and wanted nothing to do with them. Brad has been so great at gentle showing me how to responsibly shoot them. So I knew what gun to use and how to shoot it. However, I had not been smart enough to bring it with me. I hopped in the truck and rushed back to the house.
If it had been summer time, chance are pretty good I would have been in the truck racing the two miles to the hospital after being bit by the snake. Nor would the snake have been in the same place when I returned with the gun. But since it is November and the weather is cooler, snakes are a lot more docile and less hostile in cold weather. Upon my return the snake was in the exact same position.
Normally, I am kind of a “one with nature” type person and let things be as long as they are not close to my house. But I do not need any copperheads on my land! Since the snake wasn’t moving, I had time to work up the nerve and make sure my aim was accurate. Deep breathe in, deep breathe out, and then BAM! Killed it with one shot and then smashed its head with a shovel to make sure it was good and dead. Then I moved it out of the brush so I could take that picture.
Phew, what a day! I count myself very lucky and have learned my lesson. When in the woods alone, always take a gun. Those pecans I picked better be damn tasty for all the trouble. Maybe I’ll get a pecan pie out of the adventure.