Wednesday, April 10, 2013


In 1987 I owned an Oklahoma Rattlesnake Hunting license.
The license gave me permission to hunt and sell rattlesnakes.
I had the license and a burlap bag and a snake catcher.
The snake catcher looked like a hand-held garbage picker-upper like the one they use at Disneyland to pick up trash off Main Street.
So you notice how these guys are wearing boots and jeans. Well, I hunted rattlesnakes with guys like them, but some of them were smarter and they were wearing boot and leathers jeans.
I was wearing a cute pair of beige shorts with a white tshirt with a yellow sweater over it. I also was wearing a cute pair of running socks and shoes.
No one....and I mean, NO ONE..batted an eye at me standing there wearing my "license" on my sweater and holding my burlap bag and snake catcher amongst all the REAL LIFE DO THIS FOR A LIVING snake hunters. No one laughed and no one tried to tell me I was CRAZY!
Well, I was.
 I mean, who in their right mind would go out searching for a rattlesnake. Who in their right mind would go out searching for a rattlesnake wearing shorts and tennis shoes?
Uhm, I guess that would be me.

And this other chick they talked into taking a picture with a rattlesnake. See how far back all the rest of the guys are standing? Girlie, get a clue and put the snake down and back away.

Just so you know, I didn't end up catching any snakes back then. Though I did eat it.
dad. Back in the day, none of us had ever been to a rattlesnake derby ...

Kind of tasted like chicken with lots of little bones in it.

These days I am NOT eating rattlesnakes.
And my license has expired.
I am not searching for them.
I am FINDING them.
Though I am way less prepared now than I was then.
Now-a-days, I still am not wearing snake boots or leather pants, and I am also not carrying a snake catcher or a burlap bag.
These days, I am just running the trails of Two Trees, still wearing running shoes, but carrying water and a cell phone.
My first encounter was a couple weeks back when Robert and I were on our way back down from running up Two Trees. I was running in front and was just coming down a steep part heading into a little stream when I saw a big stick across the trail. Something in my mind clicked and I decided I should slow down to see what it was. Luckily, my brain registered that it was a snake and I was able to stop and back up, all the while yelling, "SNAKE!"
Robert stopped and so did a guy coming up the other way.

We shooed him off the trail by rolling dirt clods at him.
We all passed safety.
We didn't bring our dog Willie that day. He does not like running in the heat. After seeing the snake. Robert and I agreed Willie would not be running with us at Two Trees until it was cooler - as in Winter - because encountering a snake would be too dangerous for him.
We encountered another rattlesnake today on our run.
Photo: Two Trees Wednesday... Hot, windy and another rattlesnake!
This time I couldn't stop running. I was running too fast down the trail to stop. My brain engaged and I was yelling, "SNAKE! SNAKE!" but my legs were not slowing me down.
I swerved and jumped over him.
And then I came to a stop.
Robert stopped up trail from me and four guys coming up the trail stopped.

After some picture taking and discussion we were able to get the snake off the trail.
The discussion went something like this.
Me: "Last time we got the snake off the trail by rolling dirt clods at him."
An older man: "Why don't we just throw rocks at him?"
Me: "We don't want to hurt him."
The older man (looking at me as if I had 3 eyes): "Uhm."
Another older man: "I think we need a big stick." And he got a big stick and practically pushed the snake off the trail.
Me: "I guess we just needed a man with a big stick."
I came home and thought about those rattlesnakes.
I posted a picture of today's snake on facebook and some people said they wouldn't run at Two Trees and other people posted "YIKES!"
I am going to continue to run at Two Trees, but I do want to be smart about it.
Yep, that seems pretty funny since I hunted the slithery things with no knowledge whatsoever back in the 80's, but I am older and hopefully wiser now.
So I googled.
According to the California Department of Fish and Game:
Though rattlesnakes are dangerous if provoked, they also provide humans with a tremendous service they eat rodents, other reptiles, and insects, and are in turn eaten by other predators.....
Generally not aggressive, rattlesnakes strike when threatened or deliberately provoked, but given room they will retreat. Most snake bites occur when a rattlesnake is handled or accidentally touched by someone walking or climbing. The majority of snakebites occur on the hands, feet and ankles.
Rattlesnakes can cause serious injury to humans on rare occasions. The California Poison Control Center notes that rattlesnakes account for more than 800 bites each year with one to two deaths. Most bites occur between the months of April and October when snakes and humans are most active outdoors. About 25 percent of the bites are “dry,” meaning no venom was injected, but the bites still require medical treatment.
The potential of running into a rattlesnake should not deter anyone from venturing outdoors, but there are several precautions that can be taken to lessen the chance of being bitten when out in snake country - which is just about anywhere in California.

So what are the precautions?

  • Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas. Wear hiking boots.(Well, I am not into barefoot running, so I will be wearing my running shoes, so no worries)
  • When hiking, stick to well-used trails and wear over-the-ankle boots and loose-fitting long pants. Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.  (I am not wearing over-the-ankle boots or pants, but I am NOT walking in underbrush. I am sticking to the hear that down-hill mountain longer am I walking off trail for you....NO! I AM NOT!)
  • Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark. Step ON logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood. Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use. (I am running so I don't have time quickly check where I am going, but I have starting scanning far ahead of me)
  • Never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim. (HOLY SHIT!...they can SWIM. Uhm, do they have rattlesnakes at Lake Perris? Maybe that broom handle I saw in the water while I was swimming one time at Lake Perris was not a broom handle?)
  • Be careful when stepping over the doorstep as well. Snakes like to crawl along the edge of buildings where they are protected on one side.
  • Never hike alone. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency.
  • Do not handle a freshly killed snake, it can still inject venom.
  • Teach children early to respect snakes and to leave them alone. Children are naturally curious and will pick up snakes.
    They forgot a couple of important points - always have a cell phone with you and DON"T PANIC!
    The California Poison Control Center says to stay calm, wash the bite area gently with soap and water, remove watches, rings and other jewelry which may constrict swelling, immobilize the affected area and get to the nearest medical facility.
    Got that? NO!!!!
    If you live in Southern California you should read this article on rattlesnake bites.
    If you do get bit, follow the above advice AND ask, I mean DEMAND to be taken to Loma Linda University.
    FYI - I looked at a lot of pictures online of people who were bitten by rattlesnakes and the pics were UGLY. I didn't want to put them on my blog. Really, pictures of being hit by a car would be worse and I am sure the odds of that are astronomical compared to being bitten by a rattlesnake,
     Let's all just be smart and avoid rattlesnakes while still enjoying the outdoors!!!
    After seeing rattlesnakes twice in the past couple of weeks, and trying to hunt them years ago, I wondered why I really have never been scared of rattlers.
     Yes, I have a GREAT respect for them, but I am not necessarily scared of them.

     It must be my Oklahoma Indian heritage.
    Maybe Magnum, OK has a triathlon in April?

    1 comment:

    1. I see snakes on the Trace where I ride, but fortunately not too often on the run. It still always feels like they are going to jump up and get your feet on the bike! We scream like girls!!