Deadly Encounters in Ranch Life

Every day on the ranch I encounter the deadliest animal on the planet… Mosquitoes. But they are not the one’s I keep an eye out for. I try to be very watchful for those snakes out there. Snakes are the one thing that will make jump, yell, and run away. “I hate snakes” is an understatement. There was even one time I saw one while doing yard work with my grandmother and left her to deal with the snake. Then there’s the countless times I have been pickup metal, scrap, etc and almost grabbed snakes. But until this week, don’t believe I’ve ever actually stepped on one.

Yesterday I was out checking cattle, one thing leads to another, and it takes all day long just to make it through all 9 herds. In the late afternoon with this heat, most of the cattle hit the woods by 10 and don’t come out til late afternoon when the sun gets low. I was out on the 4-wheeler and found the cows, but had to get off and hoof it to get a good look at em. The cows will often bed down in the trees, usually in a draw next to water where it will be cooler. I’m walking down the slope when I trip and grab at some branches. I sorta felt something funny about my footing, looked down and there’s a big ole copperhead snake under my foot. A scream, jump, and shake later, I’m back on top of the 4-wheeler, hoping that my dog wasn’t following too close and missed a snake bite. Pretty sure the only way I missed a bite is my yell (some may describe it as a scream) probably startled the snake. After my heart rate returned to normal, I realized I was ok. If I ever meet up with that snake on the road, it may not be an accident if I swerve.

I’m always getting asked what snakes we have in Arkansas, so I figured this would be as good a time as any to share. But just to let ya know, I have a terrible time even looking at snake photos, so this is not a fun post to write. You can view all snakes in Arkansas on the Game and Fish website.

Black Rat Snake – I see this snake often, climbing trees looking for birds and eggs. He also eats mice, kills prey by constriction, vibrates its tail when threatened, and can grow up to 72″ in length.

Speckled Kingsnake – Despite my belief that all snakes are of the devil, I might let this one pass as he eats other snakes, especially venomous ones. I saw one of these snakes crawling across the yard recently as friends and I were gathered around the grill. He crawled straight to the barn and obviously was looking for some food and a cool spot to rest.

Racer Snake – Don’t even get me started on this black snake. I see em all the time and they can grow up to 5′ in length.

Cottonmouth – I see these snakes often. They stick near water sources and will open their mouth when threatened.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake – Even though this is Arkansas’ rarest venomous snake, I really, really do not want to run up on these. They can reach up to 72″, eat larger rodents and rabbits, but will have the classic rattle when threatened.

Copperhead – Oh how I hate this snake, and its the one I stepped on. It’ll grow up to 36″ and eats small rodents and small snakes, but is venomous. You’ll find these snakes in woods, brush, and rocks (all the places cattle seem to congregate).

Ok, now my nerves are on end. I hate even thinking about snakes. Are you aware which snakes are in your area? Have you or someone you know ever been bitten?

Advertisements