I stood motionless, not sure whether to jump in an attempt to escape the coming strike, or use the stick in my hands to deflect the thing away. I was the third person in line moving through knee deep brackish water off St George Island. The first person must have awakened him; the second ticked him off, and Me, I was the one with a Cotton Mouth now wide awake and mad between my knees, he was in the striking pose. Its mouth open wide, fangs projected, and was ready to launch. I jumped out of the way as we all made a good attempt to find where he had fled. It’s an adrenaline rush when you know you could be bit.
It was late summer 1976, we had made a weekend trip to the Island to validate that the Salt Marsh water snake was thriving. Someone had done a study and was looking in the wrong environment. To find them we would take three people and walk the tidal marsh creeks. One person would be in the ditch while two others walked the shore about 15 feet ahead of them. The startled snakes would retreat into the path of the person in the water. We must have captured around 25 in a half hour. Our intrepid instructor was Jim Stevenson. While in middle school, I enrolled in Herpetology classes for a FSU summer program. We traveled the pan handle capturing snakes for study. That is when I was not getting a S.W.Y.L.E.I. If you were not paying attention you were given a SWYLEI, sometime when you least expect it…. I received plenty of erasers on the head.
What we had done on this hot afternoon was split up into smaller groups to cover more area. We were on the north side, of the Island. Today the area is a State Park and still undeveloped. That’s what I like about the area, still the same after all these years. We never did find the Cottonmouth but we found plenty of other snakes. The area is now called Rattlesnake cove. 42 years later we are still traveling around in the central Florida woods looking for snakes. One of the things I have noticed is the decline of snakes in general. Sure we find plenty of Black Racers, water snakes, and garters. I have not found a big Diamondback in ages. Rest assured with Randy making me stop every 100 yards for flower photos, I get plenty of time to walk around and look. We have had rain for the last two weeks and I am inching to go out and ride some trails. The snakes are there, we just got to find some. If you see a snake feel free to photograph or film it, just not too close, send us a copy or post it up on the face book page and we will ID it for you. Who know we might even take a trip your way.
Till next time, Keep your boots on, your laces tied, and watch were you step, we are heading out.
Matt N Randy
Jeep Enthusiast, Pastor, Photographer, Artist, A husband and wife team that loves going out and seeing God's Creations.