Friday, February 1, 2013

In Reverence of Rattlesnakes


Surveying rattlesnakes on a den is an entirely different affair than searching for them in the tin fields of the low country; something I learned gradually over time and with each new visit to an assemblage. Quite often I find myself in remote places and on dangerously uneven terrain. I suit up like a medieval knight in full harness, ready for the hastiludium. Leather boots or stout hiking shoes cover my feet, half chaps protect my legs bellow my knees and I always have on a good pair of Carhartt pants or jeans to deter snags and flesh ripping thorns. Poison ivy is abundant in timber rattlesnake habitat and often I spend the whole summer with mild blisters, but as a precaution I almost always wear a shirt with sleeves I can roll down.

Once a denning area is reached, it’s frequently necessary to bushwhack through dense foliage, thorns, and other greenery (especially summer time) in order to explore the many smaller facades and bordering escarpments. Sometimes I have to take to my belly, not unlike the creatures I seek, and slither under low hanging pitch pine branches or through a choking mass of laurel. On many occasions, I find myself battling through the skeletal remains of fallen trees; their dried, lifeless forms make for a frustrating obstacle course as well as a good place to hide snapping jaws. I can only imagine what I must sound like to the quiet and concealed animals living on the adjacent ridges. My shuffling feet through ankle deep leaf litter, a snap and crack that echoes like gunshots as I smash through deadfall, and the occasional vociferous expletive when the trees fight back.
Firefly Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians By Mattison, Chris

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