Turkey Scouting and Snake Encounters
Hunting Articles - Our View

By: Kenny Presnell

Turkey scouting - Watch for Snakes! Before turkey season rolls around, you might want to do a little pre-season scouting. That's just what my wife Brenda and I did. We were on the lookout for turkey signs. We came across a few tracks and several places where turkey had scratched out the road. But turkey sign was not all we found. Camouflaged in the leaves, I noticed this little Pigmy Rattlesnake:

Pigmy Rattlesnake

We've run across these little fellows just about everywhere -- from the wilderness of the wildlife management areas to the comfort of our hunt camp. They are sometimes referred to as ground rattlers. They are one of Florida's venomous snakes. Their bite is usually not deadly if you're a healthy adult, but it is painful and can result in the loss of a finger (or toe) if that's where you happen to get bit. Their bite, however, could be more serious to an infant or elderly person. Here is another pigmy rattler we found on a sandy road in the Apalachicola National Forest.

Pigmy Rattlesnake

Like his little brother in the first photo, this Pigmy Rattlesnake also took up a getting-ready-to-fight stance when I took his picture.

Water Moccasin, aka/Cottonmouth

While we're on the subject of snakes to be on the look out for, here is a Water Moccasin, sometimes called a Cottonmouth. I saw him one day as he slithered across a muddy road in the woods. These poisonous snakes are found throughout North Florida.

Water Moccasin, aka/Cottonmouth

If you do any scouting along a river, you might want to keep your eyes open overhead as well as on the ground. While traveling along the Ochlockonee River, I spotted this water moccasin hanging around.

The Water Moccasin is in the "water" snake group and is usually found around water sources and wet marshy areas. 

Water Moccasin, aka/Cottonmouth

Sometimes you can see them on the highways, like we did, during dry, hot spells when they are out searching for water. The Water Moccasin is a poisonous snake. However, their bite may not be fatal if immediate medical treatment is provided.

If you're interested in my true-life encounter with a water moccasin, you might want to read about me and Brenda at the "turkey log" here.

Another snake to be aware of while in the woods is the Eastern Coral Snake or Coral Snake.  I found this coral snake slithering in the woods behind my hunt camp!

Eastern Coral Snake or Coral Snake
(aka/Micrurus Fulvius)

Description: Average adult size is 20-30 inches (51-76 cm), record is 47.5 inches (121 cm). Body ringed with black, yellow, and red; narrow yellow rings separate the wider red and black rings. The rings continue around the belly of the snake. From tip of snout to just behind the eye the head is black, followed by a wide yellow ring. The tail is black and yellow, without any red rings. The red rings usually contain black flecks and spots. The scales are smooth. The pupil is round. The color pattern of the young is the same as the adults.

To help identify the poisonous Coral Snake from the non-poisonous Scarlet Kingsnake or Scarlet Snake, remember this rhyme:  

"If red touches yellow, it can kill a fellow" (Coral Snake).

"If red touches black, it is a friend of Jack" (Scarlet Kingsnake or Scarlet Snake).

What discussion of snakes would be complete without mentioning the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. I saw this guy making his way down the highway, when I got this photo:

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

The Eastern Diamondback is the largest and considered the most dangerous of Florida's native snakes. It also ranks high on the list of poisonous snakes of the world. They can grow to eight feet long, but most adult Eastern Diamondbacks are in the six to seven foot range. This is one snake you definitely want to stay
away from.

I hope I haven't scared you away from the great outdoors. Just remember that with adventure comes possible danger, which
can be avoided. So keep your eyes open when scouting or hunting turkeys, deer, or hogs.

Be careful and be safe. Happy hunting!

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