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Old February 22, 2013, 05:23 PM   #1
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Plinking in the desert

To all you shooters in Desert climates,

I watching a show about snakes and what they showed about the effects of rattlesnake venom on human flesh is devastating.
The venom contains enzymes that break down tissue (digest it) and a bite can result in amputation of the bit limb.

When plinking in the desert - what kind of pecautions do you take if you are going to be walking around scrub brush and cactus?
Is there an anti-venom that will neutralize the venom?

Just wondering how careful you have to be ?

Looks like a snake bite could ruin your day(life) while out shooting.

From the Northern rain forests JD
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Old February 22, 2013, 05:39 PM   #2
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I like to prospect out in the deserts here in AZ so I wear snake leggings that come up to my thighs.....blocks a lot of thorn sticks too.
The best thing you can do is WATCH WHERE YOU STEP or PUT YOUR HANDS.
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Old February 22, 2013, 05:49 PM   #3
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I toyed with the idea of snake chaps when I lived in Tucson but never bought any. Mostly I just watch where I'm walking, and am mindful that rattlesnakes live in the desert. It has served me well so far. On the few occaisions where I (knowingly) walked by a rattler, the snakes were less interested in the situation than I was.

Except for ONE time, walked semi-close to a mojave rattlesnake... by close I mean like 10-15 yards, I would have never seen him except he started buzzing at me. He got ate
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Old February 22, 2013, 05:55 PM   #4
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I lived in the desert of New Mexico years ago and we used to go out hiking and actually try to find snakes. Never saw one. The only thing you need to be aware of in snake country is to never put your foot down down in any place you cannot see clearly. Most people who get bit by snakes were stepping over a rock or stumor log where they couldn't see what was behind it and ended up "surprising" a snake that may have been sleeping in the shade. When surprised they will strike. Just make a lot of noise and don't place your foot where you can't see clearly what may be down there. Most snakes will avoid people if they are alerted to your presence. I now live in another state that has many venomous snakes and the same cautions apply. Just pay attention.
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Old February 23, 2013, 11:36 PM   #5
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I live in very rural Az. The first year I lived in this place, I killed 44 rattlesnakes around the house & barn. Don't bother tellin' me not to kill them! They have bitten several of my dogs & 3 horses that come to mind now.

You just have to stay aware of where you step or put your hands. I have come very close to bein' bitten several times. I always have a gun on me with snake shot in it. Rattlers can be very hard to see, as their natural defense is camouflage.

We had a shooter bitten at the gun club last week, as he bent down to pick something up.
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Old February 24, 2013, 01:16 AM   #6
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Watch what you're doing, and if you hear a rattler giving you a warning ... heed that warning.

Otherwise... it's business as usual.

As for the snakes -
Just how bad a bite may be can depend on many factors. They include:
-Young (small) snakes use venom defensively, but older (larger) snakes usually don't. -Being bit by a young snake is generally worse than an older snake. The older snakes often don't inject venom, or inject very little.
(You'll probably still get a little residual venom from the fangs, regardless.)

-The reason they struck/bit you. -A defensive strike usually doesn't include a venom injection, but offensive strikes will. If a snake doesn't see your whole body, and just strikes at a hand that came toward its hiding place... it is more likely to inject venom than a snake in the open, that can see more of your body.

-Size and age of snake. -Older snakes make more potent venom than younger snakes, and larger snakes can store more of it. A large, old snake usually won't inject venom for a defensive strike, but if they do... there's going to be plenty of it, and you'll probably find out what anti-venom injections feel like.

Just keep your eyes open, and think about what you're doing.
Being paranoid will take the fun out of being in the desert, while the actual risk is quite low. (Ask Cornbush - he's been bitten more than once.)
Don't even try it. It's even worse than the internet would lead you to believe.
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Old February 24, 2013, 01:39 AM   #7
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The usual demographic of someone who was bitten was male, under 25, and intoxicated, if that tells you anything.

I've run into them up in the dry, warmer areas of Nor Cal. when mountain biking or slope soaring. Keep your eyes open.
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Old February 24, 2013, 05:04 AM   #8
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Of all the years that I've been shooting out in the SoCal desert, I've only seen one and I still have the rattle.

Don't worry about it, with all the noise you'll be making they'll more then likely move away from you. If you're that worried about them then go out in the winter when they're hibernating. I see them as a non issue as long as you keep an eye out for them.

As far as gloom and doom about being bit, as long as you can get to an aid station/ranger station/ hospital soon you'll be fine. People that should worry are ones that are allergic to bee stings and stuff like that or have a comprised immune system.
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Old February 24, 2013, 06:36 AM   #9
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When I was in junior high in the 60's, we used to catch diamondbacks. The county would pay you $8 to catch them on farm land. Then we would take them to the university and they would milk the venom and pay another 5 to 10$. Usually you would hear them rattle or see them, they usually leave you alone unless you bother or supprise them. Lether boots are not snake proof.
At the shooting range last fall a large rattler was hiding in one of the shooting stands. He cralled out and over a young man's boot while he was shooting, then went up range.
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Old February 24, 2013, 09:52 AM   #10
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I hike in the city/county desert parks and preserves in Phoenix. I see people, very regularly, walk within literally inches of a coiled rattler that's rattling. Those people are wearing earbuds and listening to music, oblivious to the threat. So the snakes must not be too interested in biting a huge human that isn't threatening THEM or looking like food. I prefer to keep my eyes (and ears) open to avoid snakes.

I have seen several dogs bitten on the face by a rattler. ALWAYS the dog owner was allowing the dog to run off leash. The dogs are probably being curious and/or protective, the snake, naturally defensive.

Bees are another, perhaps more serious, threat. Several hundred bees, attacking your exposed skin, miles from the trailhead...Oh boy.

Sgt Lumpy - n0eq
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Old February 24, 2013, 12:25 PM   #11
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A number of guys I know have had their gun dogs bitten by snakes.

We took ours to a trainer who teaches them not to mess with the snakes. It is a good practice and worth the price of loosing a good hunting dog.

As to the southwest, in the 15 years I lived in AZ I have not seen that many. Mostly I relocate them and don't kill unless they return to the barn or house.

I actually encountered more rattlers and copperheads in Mo than I have in Az Desert.
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Old February 24, 2013, 02:04 PM   #12
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I actually encountered more rattlers and copperheads in Mo than I have in Az Desert.
That's a good point.
I've seen enough in Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming; but ran into rattlers far more often in Florida and Georgia (mostly pygmies). They tended to be in much closer proximity to humans, as well (right up to having to kick a few out of my house, and having my resident snapping turtle eat a few in the back yard).
Don't even try it. It's even worse than the internet would lead you to believe.
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Old February 24, 2013, 10:46 PM   #13
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One of my employees was bitten and the hospital bill was what would have killed him if he hadn't had insurance. The anti-venom dose costs $10,000.00 each. He had to have 30. Top that off with a helicopter flight to the hospital and a few days of rest in the hospital and $500,000.00 later he was good to go. I didn't believe him, but after hearing of another bite victim's bill and questioning several people, I found it to be true. I have encountered 4 during my years of tromping around the New Mexico prairie. 3 warned me, the other was during a November quail hunt and I almost stepped on it as it was crawling slowly into his hole. He never made it.
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Old February 25, 2013, 02:35 AM   #14
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In over 40 years of wandering the deserts of Utah I've seen three rattlers.
Normally, I just pay attention to where I'm putting my feet.

Rattler #2 I did not see till I was standing about a foot away, looking into a large crack in a cliff face to see how far back in it went. Eventually looked down at the sagebrush between me & the opening & saw a baby rattler in the brush right in front of me. I moved out of range in a hurry.

#3 was about three years back, sizable enough to hear over the engine of my ATV as we were slowly following an old dirt road & I'm half deaf. It was coiled about a yard away from the road on my side.
We stopped to get out & say hi, then drove on. Actually, I said hi, my buddy wouldn't get out of the passenger seat.

I've considered snake boots, but they can get pretty hot in the summer.
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Old February 25, 2013, 06:17 AM   #15
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I've lived in New Mexico for over 45 years. I have hiked all over NM, AZ, UT, and CO and have seen three rattlesnakes in that time. They are generally shy and not aggressive, and would rather get out of your way if they can. If you make a normal amount of noise when walking - you never see them.

The biggest problem I have is thorns from cactus and some of the seeds from grasses. I generally wear a pair of custom boots made by Russell Moccasin that include a layer of "Turtle Skin" barrier because I got tired of picking the feather grass and thread grass seeds out of my socks.
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Old February 25, 2013, 08:02 PM   #16
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I have ran across 3 rattlesnakes that I was aware of. The first was under a wood pallet behind my dads machine shop. It was just about 10" long and never made it to adulthood.

The second was when dove hunting in about 1982. I was stalking a dove in a dead tree and taking just one step at a time. I put down my left foot and it started moving. My first thought was that I had stepped in a cow patty. My second thought was "there ain't no cows out here". Thats when I looked down and saw the snake flipping around under my foot. The next thing I knew I was airborne and made a 180* turn. I ran about 25 foot and the snake moved about 25 foot through the grass. Then he coiled up and started to rattle. The sound was like it was all around me. If I hadn't seen where he went he would have been hard to find. I shot him twice just to make sure he was dead. He was 42" long. I got lucky that day. I was only wearing tennis shoes.

The third snake I ran across was down in San Angelo Tx. I am an insurance adjuster and had to go out in the country to look at a hail claim. I was given a key to the gate by the agent and given directions. I went to unlock the gate and the key wouldn't work. I just caught the tail end of a rattlesnake crawling into the cattle guard. It crawled right between my feet. It didn't scare me. It was over too quick. I DID look around to see if there were any more snakes in the grass. And by the way, the directions were wrong and I was a mile short from the correct gate.
"Those who cannot cleanly dispatch their game using a .30-30 are either shooting too far, hunting inappropriate (too large) game, or are simply incompetent." Mic McPherson
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Old February 26, 2013, 12:43 AM   #17
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I hate to close this, as snake stories are interesting and informative, but there's really nothing gun-related here.
Never let anything mechanical know you're in a hurry.
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