how to shoot a snake
Courtesy Roy Hill
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how to shoot a snake
Courtesy Roy Hill

Life in the scenic Ozarks woodlands of western Arkansas means adjusting yourself to the natural rhythms of the seasons: colorful leaves in the yard in fall, at least one wonderland snow in winter, and venomous reptiles nesting under the house in spring and summer. To put it bluntly, if you live out in the sticks like I do, you will own at least one designated snake gun, and learn how to use it.

I grew up in rural Arkansas. I lived in my backwoods home for more than a decade. To be honest, I can’t remember how many copperheads I killed over the years, but I have learned what works well and what doesn’t when it comes to dispatching the scaly bastards.

I mean, Agkistrodon contortrix. For example . . .

One evening, my faithful snake-detector dog Oreo started up with that very special, high-pitched, frantic bark that means, “SNAKE! SNAKE! SNAKE! COME KILL IT PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! NOW! NOW! NOW!”

I grabbed a flashlight and my snake gun: a .38 Colt Detective Special that I keep charged with at least one CCI shotshell along with hollowpoints during the warm months.

Note: If at all possible, a snake gun should fire some sort of shot load, instead of a solid projectile. I’ve been a part of plenty of snake killings achieved with bullets through the years. I’ve used .22s, .380s, a .45 ACP (1911, of course) and an M1 carbine. While solid bullets kill snakes dead, it sometimes takes a couple of shots to put the little bullet onto the fairly-small, moving head of a copperhead.

A shotshell fired from a shotgun, or maybe a Smith & Wesson Governor or Taurus Judge, or even a shotshell designed for a handgun or rifle, makes it a lot easer to get hits on a slithery, squirmy target a lot longer than that it is wide.

So, if the situation allows, grab a shotgun loaded with fine bird shot (#7 or smaller) and try to get a clear shot from about 10 yards to let the pattern spread. That recipe makes for highly effective snake medicine.


how to shoot a snake
Courtesy Roy Hill


I found this particular copperhead wrapped around a slat in one of the vents that opens to the crawlspace. Its head was under the slat and its body was over the slat, which means it had crawled out from UNDER OUR HOUSE into the relative cool of the evening.

Many times, I’ve killed copperheads that have decided set up housekeeping under our home. Shooting that close to the house can be ticklish, especially with a shotgun. This snake died from a dose of .38 Special snake shot. (Snake shot comes in various forms and is essentially a handgun cartridge — centerfire or rimfire — that fires a wave of small pellets rather than a single bullet.) I had to maneuver around so that the charge of shot hit snake, not house, but I was able to get close enough and had time to line the shot up.

I have encountered situations before where no shotshell will work. For example, I’ve killed a venomous snake that was wrapped around the wiring of my air conditioner unit. Using a shotshell in that case could have taken out the wiring along with the snake. I had to wait until its head was clear and on the ground, and single shot of .22 solid took care of the problem.

I’ve also killed a copperhead between my feet, literally. I was in vegetation over my boot tops, about five feet from the border of my yard, and could see only flashes of coppery scales as the reptile slid around in the undergrowth. That situation called for one precisely aimed solid bullet that was going exactly where I put the sights — into the snake, not my toes.

Of course, if you want the ultimate in environmentally friendly snake whacking, a handy garden hoe, shovel, or any other large blunt or sharp implement delivering a head shot will serve. My father once killed a copperhead by spiking it with a football, a la Tony Dorsett.

That means you have to close the hand-to-fang distance, which gets really complicated if it’s dark and you need a third hand for a flashlight, or the snake is somewhere that requires you to get on your belly to see it…like under my porch. I like to have the option of getting farther away, and to use one hand to hold a flashlight in the dark, so that means a firearm of some sort in the other hand.

As you can see from the top photo, this particular copperhead took a lot of pellet hits to its head, and up and down the length of its body. Because the snake was wrapped around on itself, there was just more scaly body for the pellets to hit.

Once I knew it was dead, I used the fireplace tongs to untangle the still-writhing critter from around the slat in the vent. That’s another thing the newbie snake shooter needs to know. Snakes have very primitive nervous systems. Plenty of folks have suffered venomous snakebites from dead snakes. All it takes is one squirm and for a fang to hit flesh, and you’re bitten.


how to shoot a snake
Courtesy Roy Hill


In the daylight, this one turned out to be bigger than I expected, just over 27 inches long, which is healthy for an Arkansas copperhead, but certainly not huge. I’ve killed a three-footer before.

But if you’re thinking about moving to the country to get away from it all, or to set up your TEOTWAWKI fortress, you will need to find out what kinds of dangerous snakes — pit vipers that include copperheads, diamondback rattlers and other rattlesnakes, cottonmouths (i.e. water moccasins) — might consider your new homestead as prime real estate. There are good snakes, rat snakes and garter snakes come to mind. And water snakes, though aggressive, are generally non-venomous. So figure out who your enemy is, and then choose your weapons and ammo accordingly.


More from The Truth About Guns:

Hunting in South Texas Brush Country: Turkey, Javelina, Hogs, Snakes, Bugs

Random Thoughts About Snakes and Guns

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  1. Been doing this to rattlesnakes for over three decades. The hardest to see are the little babies during summer evenings because they like to coil up around leaf litter, and they make no noise when moving. But they like to strike instead of rattle to warn you. The large adults (I’ve shot some well over 4 feet in length) are easier because they make noise as they move, and tend to rattle their tails more readily. They’re no joke, and I don’t mind removing them from Life’s Stage because we have plenty of gopher, California King, and Coachwhips (Red Racers) that aren’t poisonous and will easily pick up the slack in keeping gopher, ground squirrel, and mouse populations under control.

    I agree with the author. Snakeshot is best, and the local po-po won’t really care due to the intended use and the extremely limited range.

    • “The hardest to see are the little babies during summer evenings because they like to coil up around leaf litter, and they make no noise when moving. But they like to strike instead of rattle to warn you.”

      Preach it.

      A few years back, I was visiting the parents, and noticed a baby snake swimming in their pool. Maybe 6 inches long. Went to grab it with the pool net, and it tried to strike the net. Garden snakes don’t do that. Fished it out *carefully* and dumped it in a 5-gallon pail and took a look at it. Poked at it with a stick. Bam! Bam! Bam! Strike after strike after strike.

      The next-door neighbor had a kid under 10. I took the pail over and showed Carlos we had baby rattlesnakes in the area. He was appreciative of the heads-up. I ‘disposed’ of the viper.

      The little ones are worse than the adults in viciousness…

    • Around here, idiots have been killing every rattlesnake the see. Turns out they mostly killed the ones that rattled. Not all of them rattle when agitated. Now there are many rattlesnakes that just bite without warning because the silent ones were the ones left to breed. Fewer snakes, more snake bites.

      Random snake killing is just plain stupid. Snakes keep down the rodent population and thus crop damage and disease. Most snake knowledge carried around is false. Most bites are dry. And most people live through the bite. Yea, I get that snakes are scary, but it’s time to grow up.

      • What about those of us that like to eat snakes? I see snakes on my property that are dangerous or large and I kill them, skin them and eat them. I make stuff with the skin too. Do you think there’s something wrong with eating them or using their skin? Are you anti hunting?

      • Can’t be helped. Venomous snakes on your property when you have pets/kids to protect who will be out and about in it can not be tolerated.

        • That’s it, kill the animals that are killing the things that will really hurt you. Sorry, but if that is the excuse you are using to kill snakes, you should probably move to the city. We are seeing a huge increase in rodent borne disease and parasites and it’s because people are killing every snake they see. If it effected only you, I’d say have at it. But considering that your actions put others at risk you aren’t being very smart.

      • There’s a spot in upstate NY where they have a massive amount of snakes per capita- but the researchers keep it quite as best they can because people have a habit of going snake thumping for fun a la the simpsons.

        • (1) If it’s identifiable as poisonous …. it’s dead.
          (2) If it isn’t readily identifiable …. it’s dead.

          if it surprises me … apply 1 & 2 …. probably dead.

  2. “Of course, if you want the ultimate in environmentally friendly snake whacking, a handy garden hoe”
    This. A garden hoe is the best snake gun out there.

    • To jwtaylor: I can’t argue with a shovel or a garden hoe to kill venomous snakes. That is fine around the yard or garden of your house if you live in snake country. But not nearly so if your’e out hiking, fishing, camping, or in the outdoors. This is where a sidearm comes in handy. And I continue to be repetitious here I realize, but a .38 caliber revolver: .38 Special or .357 Magnum (the latter will of course chamber and fire .38 Special ammo), is my idea of an all around, general purpose handgun: “self defense/house protection/ concealed carry”, informal target shooting, including outdoor use of which I have already alluded to. The 148 grain lead target .38 Special wad-cutter load, next to a .22 or .32, remains practical for hunting small game: rabbit, squirrel, and grouse, for dispatching vermin: raccoon, skunk, and possum, and even for butchering livestock. CCI’s classic .38 Special shot or “snake load”: No. 9 shot can shred the head of a rattlesnake up close.

      Snake country where both a garden hoe or shovel and a holstered sidearm makes total sense is in and around Paisley, Oregon (Lake County) in south-eastern Oregon’s high desert outback sagebrush country. In this little hamlet of around 300 residents a local yokel who has a garden can utilize a hoe or shovel to kill rattlers who might emerge, and likewise a .38 Special for a variety of chores. The Chewaucan River which runs through Paisley, Oregon has rattlesnakes along it’s riparian zone (during summer), and which empties into Lake Abert on ZX Ranch land to the south off Highway 31.

      James A. “Jim” Farmer
      Merrill, Oregon (Klamath County)
      Long live the State of Jefferson!

      • I always carry a handgun when hiking. But I always have a staff in hand. When I’m hiking I don’t feel the need to shoot a snake, it’s not on my property or heading to my house, when I can push it aside with my staff.

        Different environments call for different tools.

        • Yeah. I’m not sure why you would kill a snake while hiking? When I hike with family in Utah I hope to see some snakes and hopefully more wildlife.

  3. Fortunately, up here in the northern Rocky Mountains we only have a handful of snake species…only one of which is poisonous (Prairie Rattler)…even better yet, at the altitude where I live there are only non-poisonous snakes. We don’t kill these snakes…they are far preferable to the mice, rats, shrews, voles and pocket gophers that they prey upon.

    When I lived in the SW USA, a hoe or brush hook was the preferred method with snakeshot in a pistol or a .410 as back-ups.

    • Yep, here in NY it’s similar: most of the wildlife really won’t do you much harm (not even the bears). I have snakes under my garage, but let them be. Hopefully, they help to cut the mouse population down. I’d probably go the hoe or shovel route if I had to: I live in a rural area And have some space, but not quite far enough from my neighbors to open up on every little thing.

  4. Wait a minute! That Colt Detective Special is clearly a defensive handgun and can not be used in the field therefore exempting it from the Pittman-Robertson Act. See TTAG yesterday. Seriously, there are lots of God’s creatures that can cause serious health issues for us Homo Sapiens. Keeping the subject on snakes. I killed a big eastern diamondback while squirrel hunting when I was about 16. They make a fine meal when rolled in flour and fried. The only place big enough to wash it after skinning was the bathtub. It began trying to swim when I dropped it in the water. No head, guts or skin. So yeah, be careful of those “dead” snakes. I’ll save the story of the 7’7″ diamondback Rick and I killed with a pocket knife for next time. It was almost one of those “hold my beer and watch this” moments.

  5. I’ve always used a hoe / shovel / brush hook to chop it’s head off, but if it was a big poisonous snake, I’d probably want to shoot it.

        • Dude, that’s funny. I always just picked up the garden, white oak and rat snakes, etc. as an education opportunity for my children. My wife caught a case of the screaming meemees and would run away like her head was on fire. I now wish it had been. I digress. Only got bit once. Small white oak snake on the web of my left hand. Pulled him off and continued to show my young son and his two friends the snake and finished what I was saying. Let it go in the flower bed by the front door where I found him. After all, it was only a snake. Remind me to tell you the story of me, Ronny, the snake and the hawk one day. That hawk his life.

  6. We killed plenty of Rattlesnakes with Handloaded speer shot caps. In 38 spc. & 44 mag.
    Always used 2 shots one to stop the snake with a head shot & the second to blow the head to smithereens
    it always worked. Now that I live in the city I have to watch out for the 2 legged snakes they require a bullet!!

  7. This is good advice. I recently shot a coral snake with my designated snake gun, a SAA clone I load with snake shot. A note on coral snakes, not only are they extremely deadly but the common themes you’ve told about their coloration aren’t always accurate. Though I’ll also use a good old shovel at times.

    • Merle, you’re right about a coral snake being deadly. The venom is some kind of a nerve agent if I recall correctly. However, they don’t have fangs. They’re venom is administered through they’re teeth further back in the jaw. They litteraly have to chew they’re way in. Since they are a small snake that means a bite to a finger or toe if you’re willing to stand still that long. On the rare occasion I’ve seen one I just walked around it. Same with rattlesnakes unless they were in close proximity to human habitation. A water moccasin is killed on sight. Every time. Only serpent I’m afraid of.

    • My cousin is married to a man you wouldn’t describe as a bright fellow. The dog was barking at a snake and Dave thought it would be a good idea to see if it was a real coral snake or the non poisonous snake it looks like, in case it had bitten the dog. About the time he realized that it was likely the real thing it got a good grip on him and started chewing. He lived, though I am not sure my aunt was all that pleased with that outcome!

    • Sorry. Policing my piece of Eden. I dont share it willingly with venomous snakes.

      With family outside, I’m not taking any chances I dont have to.

      Former neighbor used to catch them and take them off. They would right back in short order (it is interesting that they do that). He removed a 5 ft rattler from his front steps, only to have it bite his dog that afternoon in the same spot.

      • We had them eat our chicken eggs. Never the chickens. Snakes, possums, raccoons and foxes liked our coop. My shotgun liked them.

  8. Killed a copperhead two day ago with a Kaiser Blade. I was chopping brush when he rolled out.

    We also have cottonmouth and Diamondbacks as well.

    If I’m using a shot shell, i want a real shot shell. Never been impressed with handgun shotshells.

    From a handgun, I like to anchor them to the ground with something solid. Wascutter or semi wadcutter. I’m not using a hoe to kill a 5 or 6 foot rattler unless it’s all I have.

    Most likely to be bitten by pygmy rattlers. They are foul tempered and strike quick. They also come toward you as soon as they see you.

    A 410 is my favored snake gun. 38 special with wadcutters comes in second.

  9. Shooting a venomous snake around your house or living are makes total sense. The comment about killing them while in the outdoors is moronic though. The only reason to kill a venomous snake is when it is a threat, if you can just walk away you should do so. I ride among rattlesnakes in eastern Washington all the time, I’ve never killed one. There have been times when my camp was overrun with rodents when I wished that there were more snakes in the wild.
    If they’re not a direct threat…leave them alone!

    • If you do kill them out in the wild I suggest at least eating them. A snake is a fine meal. So is raccoon. Not a fan of possum though, and they don’t bother anything so I leave them alone.

  10. I haven’t had many experiences with snakes, but one I particularly remember was when I was stationed at MCAS Cherry Point in eastern North Carolina. I went hunting one day and encountered a three-foot copperhead out in the woods. It was laying alongside a log and was damn-near impossible to see in the leaves – I got within four feet of it before I spotted it when it moved. My remedy was a head shot from my trusty old 12-ga hammer gun (loaded with #6 shot black powder brass shells that day). The shot blew the snake’s head off and it writhed a bit in the leaves, so I was sure it was dead. I left it there for nature’s clean-up squad to handle – turkey vultures – and headed home. I figured with that shot my day of hunting was over anyway. Although I know live in suburbia, I still keep some CCI shot cartridges for both my .38 SPL and .44 SPL revolvers, just in case.

  11. Yeah the whole “can strike after dead” thing is proven fact. I mean we’ve all seen the movie Hard Target right? Dude got it right in the face.

    Seriously though, my old man is golfing with a buddy. They hit their balls and go up to take their next shots. There’s a copperhead around his buddy’s ball. He takes out his driver worth several hundred bucks and proceeds to beat it to death with it then move it away. Of course my old man remarks if he’s going to do that he’ll trade him drivers.

  12. Two guys were out golfing on the back nine one day, and one of them got near a bush and got bit on the tip of his crank by a rattler. The bitten guy was terrified, but he thought if he laid still, the poison wouldn’t spread fast, and he asked his partner to hurry up and go get him a doctor. So the other guy ran like hell all the way back to the clubhouse and bursting in yelled, “Is there a doctor in the house?” One guy said he was a doctor and the fellow explained the snakebite situation to him. The doctor said he had to go back and make an incision between the fang holes and suck out the poison, then get his buddy back quickly for a medevac. So the guy starts walking back to his partner’s location, thinking all the while, and when he finally got there his partner, who was scared shitless by now, exclaimed, “What did the doctor say? What did the doctor say?” His buddy just looked down at him and said, “The doctor said you’re going to die.”

    Sorry! Couldn’t resist.

  13. I used garden hoes on copperheads in Tennessee back when I was a kid…they (copperheads and hoes both) were pretty much all over the place. Farmers would pay us a quarter apiece to shoot water moccasins out of their stock ponds in the the summer. The moccasins were mean as, well, snakes and it behoved you to hit them before they hit land.

    Out here at the Secret Hidden Bunker in the Rocky Mountains, we have good rattlesnake years and bad rattlesnake years. In general, I actually like rattlesnakes and the fact that they are pure hell on bunnies and the damned packrats. I also think they are one of the most beautiful snakes I’ve ever seen…a Prairie rattler coiled flat with it’s tail up and buzzing, looking at you with those flat dead eyes set in the triangular head, is the ultimate definition of deadly beauty.

    That said, I kill a few a year either around the house or on heavily used trails. I’ve shot them with 9mms out of my EDC, but in snake season when I’m hiking the property I carry one of the much maligned Taurus Judge .410s loaded with Federal #000 buckshot in 3 cylinders and .45 Colts in the other 2 cylinders in case I stumble on the errant coyote or really irritated range cow. The only rattler I killed this season was a HUGE guy, about 4 feet and and a dozen rattles, who took up residence next to my outdoor kitchen…I mean, come on! He kept striking at my beagle Newt, who’s pretty good with rattlesnakes in general…doesn’t ever close with them, and in rattlesnake season we don’t let her ram her nose into a place we can’t see…and when I called off the beagle he kept striking at me. See what I mean? Obnoxious bastard. I like the #000 buck because it pretty much vaporizes the snakes head, saving me the trouble of cutting the head off and burying it.

    Michael B

      • No…but, it sounds like a whole lot of fun!

        I can envision the scene in (yet) another Final Destination movie…the Mojave Green Rattler snake den is blown up and the separated heads spin in slo-mo towards the jugular of the victim as the exposed fangs sink in and the “strike” reflex triggers.

  14. Killing snakes is easy enough. Done so with .22, 9mm, .45 Colt and the odd shotgun from time to time. The most fun is the Rugwr 10/22, just shoot a line of holes along the length of the rattler. Good target practice when the opportunity presents.

  15. Back in the day, I got bit by a sidewinder on my right index finger. The scar is still there as a reminder to treat them with much respect.

  16. I know a lady who is a very outdoorsy type, loves animals, reptiles, birds, etc. She found a coral snake and walked around with it as a pet for a good 30 minutes. Yes, she knew what it was, but she really had no fear that it would attack her since she was handling it gently.

    Well maybe it eventually got hungry, or missed its family, or just had some snake things to do, because it started gnawing on her finger, got a good chunk of flesh in its mouth and released its toxins. It was touch-and-go from then on and she was lucky to survive, but friends were with her and got her to the hospital in time.

    I don’t play with any snakes, but water mocs are the ones I am most afraid of. Those SOBs are aggressive. One wanted my boat once and I was happy to oblige.

  17. I was helping my neighbor get his hunting land ready. He had put a big plastic corrugated pipe out on the property a week before to help divert runoff from a creek. I grabbed the end of it and pulled it and two very angry cottonmouths came out about 5 feet from him. I had no idea he could draw a Taurus Judge so quickly and shoot two snakes killing them both instantly. Turns out he didn’t know he could do it either.

  18. Another reason why I love my local yote packs. Yotes eat the rodents and leave fewer for the snakes. Fucking copperheads are killing my grass snakes now and one of them laid a bunch of eggs somewhere because I’m finding baby copperheads.

    Tbh, I use my boot on copperheads if they are small enough, size 13 – 15 usually does the trick.

    Keep plastic and leave debris up, keep area clean and mowed, but you can’t really fix living in a forest.

    • Copperheads are live bearing snakes. And this is the time of year to find the wee ones.

      They aren’t well known for eating other snakes though, more likely you have another predator doing that.

      • Negative, found a baby copperhead right over a dead baby grass snake. These ain’t scavengers in a cattle field picking up after another animal, it probably bit it for the territory. It must have missed that part where this is MY territory and I decide which snakes stay and which ones go, copperhead had to go.

        • Snakes don’t establish territory like that. They will not expend venom on such a trivial thing especially on another species. Now, snakes will prey on other snakes, copperheads usually don’t do this but it happens. But the idea that a copperhead would envenomate a grass snake over territory is laughable.

  19. I recall old guys shooting snakes with a .22 loaded with what they called “squirrel dust”. I assume it was a fine bird shot.

  20. Are you people fucking stupid? The number one reason people get bit is by engaging and harming a snake when they could have just walked around it. Also, a mortally injured venomous snake will ALWAYS give a 100% envenomation.

    Stop being stupid unless you love going through a week of agony during Crofab treatment which may or may not save your stupid ass.

    • Harder to get but when using a gun, unless you were really trying.

      Not just gonna walk around it when it’s around my house.

      You do you, though.

      • Yep, hear that a lot… and you’re right… until you’re wrong. I work with snakes every day, including venomous. I’ve had to file incident reports for law enforcement and insurance companies when the people that say “it won’t happen to me” or “hard to get bit when shooting them” end up getting bit. And it happens a lot. Then the people that get bit wonder why they got bit… well, play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Crofab sucks. You’ll wish you would die. Sometimes, you’ll get your wish. Others, well, venom has a necrotic side to it. You can lose fingers, hands, arms, feet, etc.

        The safest thing to do is to call someone that knows how to safely work with snakes and have them remove and relocate the animal. Shooting them puts you, your pets, and your children at a much higher risk of bite.

        But, you do what you want. Just remember, told ya so when you do get bit. And trust me, it’ll happen. Sooner or later, it will. Then you get to experience a whole new definition of suck.

        • Stomping multiple copperheads with boards, boots, rocks, or just blasting them, is basically a passtime here in Texas. Don’t be stupid when killing snakes and wear boots, problems solved.

        • Like I said, I hear that all the time… and I also hear “you were right” a lot too. I’ll say it again, you’re right until you’re wrong. Then when you get nailed, don’t say you weren’t warned. Crofab sucks… it sucks real bad. No, let me be blunt… It sucks worse than just about anything else out there. But you keep thinking it won’t happen to you. When it does, pray that you’re within reach of medical treatment. Then you get to learn what misery is all about… if they get to you in time.

  21. Long ago when I was a young chap in the northern Ozarks, I was painting the concrete foundation of our house one hot summer day. It hadn’t rained in a long time and there were cracks in the soil. I was scooting along the foundation, happily painting away, when suddently something started “swashing” back and forth between my legs. Unbeknownst to me, I had scooted directly on top of a copperhead (about 12in in length). Instantly seeing what I’d done, I literally “levitated” straight up (YES, you CAN levitate your whole body…I did!!” and rolled to the side. I ran into the house and grabbed my 20ga single shot. I was shaking as I pulled the hammer back on my trusty little Stevens-Savage and fired at its head at near point blank range….and MISSED! It crawled down into one the large sun cracks, never to be seen again. That ended my foundation painting for the day. (Nowadays, decades later, I carry a Ruger LCR .38 with a speed strip of CCI snake shot in my jeans pocket when I’m out and about.)

    To the Author: Did you ever hear of the story about the “copperhead gathering place” at this guy’s cabin North of you in the Yellville area? Been several years ago, but in the late summer this guy’s cabin became a large gathering area for copperheads….30+ or more in his yard every nite. They had all kinds of wildlife biologists and herpetologists studying why that was occuring….typical Ozark glade country. The local tv news went with them one nite when they were tagging some of the copperheads, and they literally filled a 5 gal bucket full of copperheads. Using an infrared camera, you could see copperheads all over the yard, in the woods, etc.

  22. I asked my wife if I could get a ho, later when I woke up and explained what it was and what it was for she said ok but she was going to keep an eye on me anyway

  23. I’ve seen plenty of rattlers while in the wilderness. Never needed to shoot one. I did once have to dispatch a bat that had taken residence in my home due to the need to have it tested by the county for rabies. Snakeshot took care of it in one shot without damaging anything around. I was surprised how effective it was.

    Had I not been so exasperated by the thing refusing to leave for a week I might have found a better way to do it.

  24. I kill 3 rattlesnakes a year on average. Hoe, shovel, snake shot, birdshot, car, fire department the first year. Whatever works. I leave kingsnakes and other non-venomous ones alone. I also exterminate rodents up to 50 yards of the house.

  25. Good article for what it is. I don’t see snakes much, but… how about a good article about how to get the racoons out of my attic?

    • All snakes are deaf, if I remember the Crocodile Hunter TV show statements correctly. They are very good at sensing vibration throuigh the soil; may be reacting to your footsteps or stomps. But don’t count on sound to keep them at bay.
      Copperhead vulnerability is very unusual. Most people, if bitten in a fleshy area, will not get terribly ill…but remember:
      “The snake never brushes his teeth.” Their saliva is super-concentrated with germs. Go to the hospital right away if bitten by ANY snake, and take tha whole course of antibiotics.
      Copperhead venom is much more dangerous when people are bitten in bony areas, like hands, ankles, and feet.
      Some people are allergic to copperhead venom, and can die from a bite. Go directly to the hospital.
      Coral snakes are the only snake in the Americas which is of the same family as cobras and kraits, so like them, their venom kills by poisoning your nerves. If bitten, you may die because you can’t breathe or make your heart beat.
      If bitten, go directly…OH, for cryin’ out loud. Stay away from ’em. Don’t let your last words be, “Hey! Watch ‘is!”

    • Shooting a snake is the best way to get bit. A fatally wounded venomous snake will ALWAYS give a full 100% envenomation if it can bite you. If you are in a survival situation and you are forced to do so for food, yes, the venom can contact the meat and depending on the species of snake, it may cause you harm.

      There are far less risky animals to hunt. The best thing to do is to just go around the snake and leave it alone.

  26. It seems as the greatest rattlesnake researcher of all time
    (Laurence Monroe Klauber) would say: Nearly everyone has a favorite family story about snakes and in many areas…rattlesnakes. Great fascination about an animal you can get away from in most instances with several swift strides.

    I agree with the venerable late researcher who was reluctant to mention that he was bitten twice handling over 250,000 snakes…mostly prairie rattlesnakes (which are easy to catch and in the old days could be found in dens by the hundreds). Settlers had a tendency to dynamite those caves in the old days.

    In most cases a rattler that is lucky is going to be removed to a less populated ranch or state park if it is lucky. However most humans they meet is usually their last because the bite can be disfiguring and sometimes even lethal. But millions survive protected in state and national parks. A great rodent killer and a prolific breeder (typically 12 small babies a year), those babies are documented to only travel about a one mile radius from mama’s den in any direction.
    I personally used to live on ranches with active dens and I find snake tongs and a 12 gauge to be all I needed along with well-trained dogs to alert me of rattler visits to to my house. One thing I did learn was to never shoot the head off a rattler next to my lower brick and concrete foundation. That decapitated head can go flying and land back in your shirt collar! And they do have a bite reflex for one hour after death. Keep your pets away from the severed heads!
    One of my dogs was killed by a five foot diamondback. Bitten once as a puppy by a big rattle he survived that nasty bite. But the second bite when he was about 5 years old was on his head and proved fatal even after antivenin treatment.

  27. I find it funny how so many tough guys have to make themselves feel manly by killing snakes. Y’all better pray the shit never hits the fan if a little snake sets you off like that. Leave the snakes alone and they’ll leave you alone. If you need to get one out of the area, spray it gently with a water hose and it will move. Rattlers are not as big a deal as many people make them out to be. Hell, I keep a few as pets along with my other snakes. Going out of your way to hurt them is how you get bit. Just give them room and they’ll leave you alone.

  28. Michael, you sound like someone who’s never had Copperheads on their back porch or in the leaves of their garden. They do not ‘leave you alone’. If you happen to step on or near one, by accident, they will send you to the hospital and then slither off to breed another 8 or so Copperhead babies. If that is how you wish to treat your wife or children, I truly feel sorry for them. Maybe it is you who should ‘man up’.

  29. Actually, I have several as pets as well as several rattlesnakes as well. So, sorry Tom, yeah, I’m very familiar with the habits of copperheads and rattlers. You’re fear mongering. I’ve sat next to wild ones and photographed them more than once. I have a wild timber rattler that frequents my back porch during the summer. In the 7 years I’ve had him here, never had a problem with him. Maybe because I’m not so insecure as to need to harm them and they sense that. My daughter is laughing at you by the way. She works with snakes every day as does my wife. So, I’m man enough. I don’t need to kill another predator to feel manly and fake needing to protect my family against them. I think my daughter has more balls than most of the people on this discussion. She’s been handling and working with snakes since she was in the 2nd grade. So maybe you should think before trying to tell someone else to man up. Especially when you’re scared of an animal that has no interest in you at all.

  30. Dude, give it up. I have 2 neighbors who’ve been bitten while working in their yards/gardens and were taken to the hospital after copperhead bites, just within the last 3 years. People don’t ‘intend’ to step near or on a copperhead, but due to their natural camouflage they are difficult to see. And they typically hold their ground, unlike other snakes. They don’t attack, but they don’t warn you or dart away either. I have found copperheads literally by my back door, front yard, driveway, you name it. Yes, I live by a heavily wooded area. I kill them on sight, much like I do scorpions or potentially… armed intruders. Hope that doesn’t offend you too. BTW, people don’t usually talk about their daughters like you have. Please refrain, it’s not very manly.

  31. And I bet they chase you too. LOL… what? Strong women intimidate you?? That explains a lot. Sorry, you can kill them on sight, don’t say a word when you get a rodent problem and you start getting diseases. And yes, that happens frequently. Most people don’t correlate the two, but that is a huge reason disease is spread. It’s cute having a beta male try to tell me something I’m doing isn’t manly. Please, go somewhere to squat to pee in fear of a little snake if you wish. You remind me of the reporter that claimed he got PTSD from shooting an AR15. Have a nice day.

  32. This is an old thread but I see it isn’t closed. Anyway, I came up on a 4 foot prairie rattler laying crossways on an improved gravel oilfield and farm road maintained by the county. I ran over it first then turned around with my 7mm-08 with entry level Leopold scope on him. The muzzle of the 200 Stevens was approximately 6 feet from it’s head. When I touched off the 139 grain Hornady SST about half it’s body reared back off the ground while the whole snake seemed to puff up some all at the split second of finality. I may have missed his head with my shot. The SST round left a nice 5 inch crater in the road about 4 inches deep. The violent shot coming at 2900 fps with all that muzzle energy would have easily exploded his head even if the bullet just nicked or ticked him. There was a faded pink raggedy stump on the end where his head would be. The head end of the rattler was about a foot from the bullet crater in the road. I jacked the shell casing out laying beside the dead snake for the workers to find the next morning. I’m glad I shot the snake and I’m happy I was there to blow him away. The hunting rifle was a bit of overkill. I have a single shot 410 I could have used on him if I had it with me or entertained him with my Glock 19.


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