Landscape and water's edge Photographers and snakes

Discussion in 'Landscapes, Architecture, and Cityscapes' started by Doug, Apr 8, 2007.

  1. Doug

    Doug

    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    Have you ever been concerned about being surprised by snakes? Particularly poisonous snakes?

    I'll admit that I have a snake phobia. I just don't like em! I do not like any snake, whether poisonous or not, and not knowing where they can be at is a continuous concern. It's one of the three things that concern me most about being out on the trails. The other, I can't do much about, bears and boars.

    But stepping over a black snake on Monday burrowed into the grass, next to a wall above a creek in the Smokies, my phobia was heightened. I say he was black, he was likely black, no markings, just a black body. I did not see the snake until I was a straddle him, looked down and saw 6-8 inches of black body. I started high stepping it carrying my D2X mounted to a tri-pod!

    I began thinking about leather chaps maybe, as protection against snakes, and wearing boots any time I am in the wild. Am I being to cautious here, or am I thinking smart?

    I came across this site for starters, and they seem to be the snake bite prevention authorities for lower leg and even full leg protection.

    http://www.snakeboots.com/

    I'm seriously considering some chaps or lower leg wraps for when I venture off the pavement for any length of time at all, want to go down to water's edge, or walk through ditchlines, or even fields.

    I read that something like 90+% of all snake bites occur around the ankles. With boot's and calf protection, I think we narrow our chances of getting snake bit by a GREAT amount as long as the protection is able to stop the snake's fangs.

    Anybody else take protective measures? I think I know of at least one that seems to have some snake boots... How about you? Have I struck a nerve?

    Doug
     
  2. rbsmith

    rbsmith

    Apr 13, 2005
    Saltillo, Ms
    I have worked in the woods and in swamps for 30 years. I have always worn tennis shoes or low cut hiking shoes. I have never had a close call that I knew of. But my son was struck on the boot last year. After seeing several in a short time, we bought snake chaps. They now set in the office unused until the next time we have some close calls. They are just too uncomfortable.
     
  3. Doug

    Doug

    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    ok, there's one opinion on chaps. thanks Rex.
     
  4. MurphyD

    MurphyD

    469
    Jan 17, 2007
    South Texas
    Decades ago, when working in the sandy, desert-like West TX oil patch, part of my job was to go up to the wellheads and beat on the tires that were put in place for erosion. The tire beating was to get the rattlers on the move. I wore boots w/ heavy leather tops. The old hands told me to dispose of boots with bites because the toxin in the boots could rub and enter the blood stream through a cut or scrape. I didn't really believe them.
    Lots of guys wore the chaps and they worked too. I felt more comfortable the THICKER and TALLER the leather was, so that's how I vote.
    David
     
  5. Doug

    Doug

    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    Yikes, there's a job I wouldn't apply for!

    So, you have an appreciation for my fears at least.

    We do have Eastern Diamond Back's and Copperheads in our mountains, so the threat is real, even if not as dramatic as parts of TX.
     
  6. wbeem

    wbeem

    Feb 11, 2007
    Sanford, FL
    William Beem
    I'm like you. Snakes, I don't like 'em. Just last Friday I was walking on the side of my house with a cable guy to look at a way to lay down the line and he suddenly jumped back into me. A black snake slithered his way into my neighbor's woodpile.

    Fortunately, the black snakes around here are harmless. Most snake would rather avoid you than strike you. Even rattlers are not prone to attacking people. If you hear that rattle, just give him room to escape and it'll be over. The only snakes I know that just like to come at you are water moccasins and coral snakes. We have both here in Florida.

    That said, I've never donned special gear for being near water's edge. I'm cognizant of places where snakes are likely to hide & fester and try to avoid those patches of reeds, brush, etc. I also make a lot of noise so they know I'm coming and have a chance to hide or slip away.

    If I were going in the water in some swampy area, I'd probably get some waders or something. Better yet, a kayak or canoe. Of course, I've had snakes swim after me when I was fishing in a rowboat before. Like I said, those water moccasins will just swarm after you. Nasty disposition.
     
  7. SteveK

    SteveK

    Mar 16, 2005
    Alaska
    Doug, there was an interesting study of pygmy rattlesnakes in Florida. When the researchers found a snake, they'd tap it on the head with a heavily gloved finger. Over 90% of the snakes tried to get away, and did not strike.

    I've worked around snakes in many parts of the world. Most often, you simply don't see snakes because they avoid us like the plague. Your chances of being bit without doing something to seriously aggravate a snake are very slim. And I'm not so sure about your statistic about most people who have bites are in the areas around the ankles. As far as I've heard, most bites are in the hands and arms, from people who don't know what they are doing, trying to handle them.
     
  8. wbeem

    wbeem

    Feb 11, 2007
    Sanford, FL
    William Beem
    Steve:

    That sounds about right to me. Snakes generally don't want to bite. Look at all the stuff Steve Irwin used to do to tick off a snake before it tried to strike at him.
     
  9. I'm with you on this one, Doug. I don't like snakes at all. Would never dream of hurting one but do fear them. I don't mind the harmless ones - fun to hold a garter snake and see it up close. I've held large snakes when presented by a handler and it's interesting to feel their skin, and the temperature of their body. They do fascinate me, BUT if I was in an area known to have any poisonous snakes, I'd be wearing the boots and leather chaps in case I accidentally stepped on one. I believe that Mother Nature gave us a brain for a reason and we should use it! Statistics are made up of folks who didn't!

    My biggest scare: kayaking in the Keys. Coming around a bend, I passed a pier, fisherman standing on the pier. He calls out "you've got a hammerhead behind you" I turn around, and call back "Where, by that buoy?" "NO, RIGHT behind you - five feet behind you!" The blood literally drained from my face - I could feel it! Hammerheads are one of the very few sharks that actually LIKE the taste of humans. Most sharks don't. These guys will bite, and come back for more! I sat SO STILL and gently paddled my way to shore, gasping for each and every breath!
    You must have respect for the beings that can kill you!
     
  10. wbeem

    wbeem

    Feb 11, 2007
    Sanford, FL
    William Beem
    Beem's Law: When you transition between land and sea, you reverse your position in the food chain.

    Sharks. Don't like 'em, either.
     
  11. Doug

    Doug

    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    Steve:
    I would guess the stat I heard was in relation to people walking on trails in the Smokies and did not count "reach in's" and handlers. I am pretty sure I read it on a US Parks site. Before I reached on the ground, I'm gonna move a walking stick over the area, or something.

    If you reach your hand down into a crevace for example, your askin' for it!

    If you are handling them, well your either stupid or a pro, I'm neither. :)

    Lastly Steve, your what I'd call a Bushman in essense. Me, I'm just a city boy playing country boy when I am out there. Yeah, I grew up playing in the woods some, around creeks, riding motorcycles on trails, but when your kids, you just don't think about these things. As you get older, you think about the things that can really hurt you more.

    I saw 6 bears this week, but never felt scared, as the distance was reasonably safe. I stepped over a blacksnake and realized after my foot was over it, what it was. IF it was a poisonous snake, and he was in position, he may have struck me in defense. This was truly in a wide open area, not even in the rocks like here: I am in a rain forest. Here, the vegitation gets dense and rocks are plentiful, logs, you name it, we got it.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I like to get in for the right angles, I like to go to the shot sometimes, you can't always do it from the road or bridges. When I Take my eyes off the rocks, and begin target orientation, I want to be able to step around without as much fear of what's down there.

    I hope this makes a bit more sense in this light.

    Sandi, that had to be a VERY scary moment! Yikes!

    Beem's Law, interesting! Agreed!
     
  12. Doug, I too have a snake phobia, in fact I just caught a water moccasin in my pool over the weekend. I have never run into a snake while hiking up north NC, SC, GA and TN. but have here in the Everglades so I wear high boots when hiking in Florida. Better safe than sorry.
     
  13. SteveK

    SteveK

    Mar 16, 2005
    Alaska
    Doug, no problems. Many people have a phobia of some kind about snakes. I used to be quite frightened of them; I spent time with professional herpitologists, learned what I could, and now have no irrational fear of snakes. I don't consider myself an expert handler, and won't pick up a poisonous snake, but I will photograph them whenever the situation allows it. I will say that one of my ongoing dreams is finding poisonous snakes all around me when I'm trying to take some photo of something. It's not really a scary dream, but one that obviously is disturbing. I also have the same dreams about brown (grizzly) bears which are very common in our area. One of the reasons I moved to Alaska was to spend time with bears, and lose my great fear of them. While I think I've lost all my crazy fear, it is an eye opener when someone I know gets killed by a bear (3 people I've known have been killed).

    Still, in contrast to bears, snakes, spiders, etc, your chances of getting killed by lightning are greater than from a critter, and by far the most dangerous thing for most of us is driving in our cars, or consuming tobacco.

    By the way Doug, those are some nice photos of streams in the Smokies!
     
  14. Doug

    Doug

    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    Raul, I bet that was an attention getter. water moch's are highly poisonous too I think, aren't they?


    Steve, I can understand as much of this as you have done, how things like this could easily enter your nightly dreams. You have a lot of animal thoughts and images in your brain! Loosing friends to grizzlies is a definite attention getter. Sorry to hear that. I have heard the grizzly is a lot more aggressive than our region's black bears. Blacks rarely turn on people here. It happened once or twice last year though. Primarily allowing them to get food at campgrounds prompted what occured, likely. Though it was early in the year as I recall. The bear got a child, and the Mother tried to save the child and was also attacked. I know at least one of them died. But I can't recall which, maybe that's good.

    Some people were bitten over garbage late last summer, bears ruined again by man. Those were hunted down and euthanized, because they already lost their fear of man, and were in man's territory. As the park continues to allow private land adjoining it at higher and higher elevations it seems, man and bear cross paths even more. I wish the area surrounding the park was stopped from development too, but unfortunately, it's to late for that it seems.

    I have always been scared of snakes forever though. I just don't like em', and maybe never will... Maybe at the zoo I can become more tollerent of seeing them, and understand them better, just as I have tried to understand bears better by educating myself.
     
  15. Doug, your area is not that much different from mine. The only dangerous snakes you have to worry about are timber rattlers and copperheads. Their bite is seldom lethal.

    I have tramped in the woods here for over thirty years, and have never had a close encounter with a poisonous snake. I think you are being paranoid. I did see a timber rattler lying across my trail last summer, but I just gave him a wide berth and continued on.

    I grew up in South Alabama where we had diamondback rattlers and cottonmouth moccasins. They are much more dangerous than what we have around here. But I never saw one while out in the woods.

    Your most dangerous moments, by far, are driving to where you are going.
     
  16. Hi Doug

    I've encountered a number of poisonous snakes in the wild but I've never felt threatened. I've even helped a couple out - a timber rattler warming itself on the road I moved before some Yahoo decided to drive over it (tripod legs have more than one use). I tried to get a stranded sea snake back into the water but I think it was too weak to make it, unfortunately.

    I look at them as photo opportunities if they'll sit still, but they rarely do. I can't think of too many animals that are more beautiful. Take a look at the fellow below, a rock python in India. It wasn't poisonous but I sure like its looks.

    The only animals that have bothered me when I've been around them without a fence between us were Polar Bear and Bison.

    I also have to admit to an irrational fear of sharks.:eek:

    453132488_849e6c0829_o.
     
  17. Doug

    Doug

    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    2 are enough kinds of poisonous snakes for me, lol, I don't need more here. As to being seldom lethal, yes, but even less lethal if I never get bit in the first place, and side to caution side.

    Larry, I just see a snake, a snake, a snake, lol.

    If I am just a big scardy cat, so be it, at least I will admit it.
     
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