How to Deal with Snakes While Turkey Hunting
Wearing snake boots in rattler and cottonmouth country will give you peace of mind, for sure, and often enough blisters if they aren't broken in well enough (the lesser of the two evils). It's best to slip them on anyway, even if snakes can sometimes still do damage.
While a lot of snakes where we turkey hunt aren't venomous, plenty are of course. As the notion goes, snakes would rather avoid you than have to deal with you, but people still get bitten. Statistics vary. Sources routinely indicate thousands of folks suffer snakebite injuries each year. Yep, some die.
As a kid, at the suggestion of my dad, we routinely carried a canary-yellow plastic snakebite kit when outdoors hunting or fishing rural north-central Pennsylvania (plenty of rattlers there), which for the record was never once opened. Then there was the time I didn't have it stashed on me and almost reached down to pull myself up on a big rock where a timber rattler was innocently sunning itself on a warm spring morning.
It looked at me like: You just caught a break, bud, now scram.
Let the record show it had never rattled. Also, these days, there's some disagreement about whether so-called "snakebite kits" help or hurt you in the long run.
DIFFERENCES OF OPINION
Anyway, over the years, I've encountered the most rattlesnakes while turkey hunting Texas. Bearing no grudge (hey, who am I to pick a fight with a venomous snake?), I've moved in the other direction and/or chosen a new calling setup. Truth is, I kind of admire them.
Some opt for alternative responses, of course, as the occasional rancher or outfitter will say something like: Kill every snake you see in the pre-hunt talk. Best to check your state's regulations as this goes, despite what the camp boss might say. Doing so might not be a legal option. Utah, in fact, protects them.
WHEN THINGS GO SOUTH
Okay, you've tried to avoid snakes but failed. One nailed you and bad. Routine advice on what to do and what not to do can be found in a variety of sources. This is one of the best out there for what to do if you are bitten by a snake.
Question: Have you ever been bitten by a snake while hunting or spending time outdoors? If so, what did you do to get well again and or save your life? Any tips? Share your story . . .
Steve Hickoff is Realtree's turkey hunting editor and blogger. Go here for more Realtree turkey hunting tips.