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Old May 15, 2013, 03:55 PM   #1
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Why shotshells for snakes?

After reading countless times of people loading up with a few shotshells for snakes I've decided to start a thread dedicated to finding out the reason why some people feel this is necessary.

My thoughts are that any snake close enough to bite me is definitely close enough to easily shoot with whatever defensive ammo I happen to be loaded with, hollowpoints, semi wadcutters etc. If I run into something larger than a snake I'd like to have something more potent than a shotshell or two as my first shots.

What say you?
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Old May 15, 2013, 04:05 PM   #2
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With only a few exceptions, I don't know why you need to shoot the snake to begin with unless it's poisonous and in your yard or a water moccasin (wm). Wms are just too aggressive for my tastes. They have a rather nasty disposition.

But to the snake shot topic, it can be pretty hard to hit a snake in the head even close up. At that point, a firm stick works just fine.
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Old May 15, 2013, 04:39 PM   #3
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Well if you shot a snake with a bullet I.E. wad cutter, ball or hollow point, you are going to pass right through the snake and possible hit something on the ground, catch a ricochet something like a rock. A shot shell on the other hand will disperse and less likely catch any thing from it.
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Old May 15, 2013, 04:47 PM   #4
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I would only kill a snake if it's poisonous and a .38 or .44 shotshell at close range will take the head clean off. But in my yard, the neighbors wouldn't appreciate any gunshots, so like 22-rimfire said, a stick, or better yet a shovel works fine for me.

Also, there's a you tube video testing shotshells and they won't cycle a semi-auto, so it's best to use a revolver.

The crazy thing about rattlesnakes here in South Jersey, they're a protected species! Ah, yes, man's best friend....the rattlesnake.
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Old May 15, 2013, 04:50 PM   #5
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Yeah, I remember a buddy of mine grabbed his .45 and shot a rattlesnake just outside the door of his shop out back behind his house. He killed the rattlesnake, but at least one of those 230 grain ball bullets broke the window out of his truck when it bounced off the ground. Sure, he live's in the sticks and all, but that was not what he expected to happen.
If he had used say a 357 or 38 or even a .22lr with the shot tips he would have been safer, and he wouldn't have broke out his winow most likely.
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Old May 15, 2013, 04:57 PM   #6
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Well if you shot a snake with a bullet I.E. wad cutter, ball or hollow point, you are going to pass right through the snake and possible hit something on the ground, catch a ricochet something like a rock. A shot shell on the other hand will disperse and less likely catch any thing from it.
That's a good point that I hadn't considered.
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Old May 15, 2013, 05:06 PM   #7
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And their kind of small to shoot at defensively. I would prefer the shotshell for the spread.
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Old May 15, 2013, 05:18 PM   #8
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The two biggest reasons I see are ricochets as you are shooting at the ground loaded with rocks. And... Its hard to hit a moving snake... that spread will help more.

When I go to snake country I alternate snake, FMJ and JHPs in my mags... A little for each threat I figure..
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Old May 15, 2013, 05:27 PM   #9
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Duh, most people cannot hit the 10 ring at 3 yards much less a snake. If you ever lived on a ranch you would have your answer. I am assuming that you are thinking solely about defense against a snake rather than merely killing poisonous ones near and around your home to prevent a nasty situation later. If you can shoot a slithering snake 5 yards away with one shot from a 9mm then you have no need for snake shot.
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Old May 15, 2013, 05:30 PM   #10
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Along the same lines of logic, if I can use a handgun or rifle and hit a man size target 10 or 20ft away, then why ever use a shotgun? Because it works. In regards to a poisonous snake, why take the time to line up an accurate shot when I can point the barrel in it's general direction and dispatch it easily and effectively with snake shot.
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Old May 15, 2013, 05:34 PM   #11
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We have a lot of rattlers around here. I tried some snake shot in my 642 and wasn't impressed.

I've done better with my normal carry rounds, 150 gr LSWC's. Like the OP said, if they're close enough to be a bother, my normal carry loads work.

Besides I don't want to set around wondering what loads I have in my gun.
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Old May 15, 2013, 05:49 PM   #12
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I do not shoot snakes unless it is absolutely necessary. In over 60 years of boondocking with a good portion in the Nevada and Arizona deserts, I've probably seen over 100 rattlesnakes and in all that time haveonly had to kill three. I feel it's their turf that I'm on and they were there first. besides, they kill and eat a lot of rodents, some of which are known to to carry plague and other nasty diseases.
First one I killed I just happened to step on. It's a good thing the first two rounds in my Super Blackhawk were snake shot loads.
Snake #2 got caught under the front wheel of my off road motorcycle and was pinned. He was quite P.O.ed to say the least. If I let the weight off him I do believe he would have tried to bite me so I killed him.
Snake #3 really should have been allowed to live. The rangemaster and his wife live at the range and the rangemaster's wife babysits her grandson during the day while mama works. A snake came up by where the boy was playing and she called me over to kill it. I easily caught it and would have walked it a couple hundred yards away and turned it loose but she wanted it dead. So, I killed it.
Dunno how agressive a Water Moccasin might be but the one rattlesnake that does scare me is the Mojave Green. It has a wierd poison that is kike a mix of rattler venom and cobra venom and of he rattlesnake here where I lve, they get quite aggressive. So far I've been able to stay out of their way but you never know. My current hiking handgun id a Ruger Super Blackhawk with 4.5" barrel and a standard Blackhawk grip fame. Chambering of course is .44 Magnum. I load #7 1/2 shot rather than the normal #9 recommended and the heavier shot at close range will severely shred a snake. Just ask the one I stepped on. If I see it, I just give it a wide berth. I canse killing one if it's near a home but other than that? Leave 'em be.
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Old May 15, 2013, 07:06 PM   #13
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Despite a lot of time outdoors in my fairly lengthy life, I haven't killed a snake in over fifty years. That time it was him or me and I got very lucky with a snap hip-shot with a .22 rifle. I haven't had to deal with cottonmouths, and they really are reputed to be aggressive, nasty critters. But with the snakes we have in this part of Kentucky (copperheads and timber rattlers are the principal venomous ones) I let them alone to do their thing and play their part in the Big Picture.

I bought some .38 Special shotshells years ago because an LGS owner tried to tell me they made great SD loads, inflicting horrendous wounds and effecting one-shot stops. I thought he was full of pre-digested pasture grass, but decided to try a few. I wasn't impressed. Might be good for legless snakes, but not the ones that walk upright.
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Old May 15, 2013, 07:32 PM   #14
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My buddy bought a place in Moreno Valley (S.Cal) it was a really neat property up on top of a mountain. It had been a repo and was empty for a few years.

The place was loaded with BIG rattlesnakes. He killed a bunch of 6 foot + snakes. He feared rightfully for his dogs getting bit.

He upset natures rather delicate balance. He was promptly overrun with rodents. The snakes had been keeping the rodent population in check.

He said if he had the chance to do it over he would have had his dogs trained to be snake averse.

S.Cal has a LOT of rattlesnakes. Including those infamous Mojave greens.
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Old May 15, 2013, 07:57 PM   #15
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They CAN be quite effective & easier to put a snake down quickly with than a standard single-projectile bullet.

Also, the bit about shotshells not cycling autos is not true, across the board.
They work fine in some pistols, but not in others. You have to try in your own before deciding they don't function through the action.
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Old May 15, 2013, 08:13 PM   #16
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Duh, most people cannot hit the 10 ring at 3 yards much less a snake.
Amen to that. I've shot snakes both with bullets and with shot snake loads and it is MUCH easier to hit the head with the shot load.
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Old May 15, 2013, 08:43 PM   #17
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We came across a cottonmouth sunning himself on the path at a sporting clays course. A friend shot him - twice - with a 12 gauge from about 12 feet. pistol shot may be OK, but I prefer a shovel, with a very sharp edge
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Old May 15, 2013, 08:56 PM   #18
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Run in with a snake

Bottom line I wouldn't use shot shells on a snake
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Old May 15, 2013, 09:02 PM   #19
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A timely thread, as Mr. No Shoulders is just getting active around here. I have shot any number right around my house (we live waaay out in the country). I did have my dog bitten, but he had the rattlesnake inoculation (check with your vet), so he was fine in 48 hours - and he was bitten on the face!

I use a .44 Bulldog with a shot load first up - I don't like getting closer than I must. I have also used a shovel, but I prefer the shot load. I have had rattlers pursue me until I shot them.
My carry load works too, but I always aim just under the snake - if the shot misses, the rocks & dirt hit. But ricochets come under the 'know your backstop, and what is beyond' rule. With my luck, someone way over yonder will be out for a walk, and get hurt with my bullet. Justified or not, I would still be responsible!

But now, I'm going to box up all the rattlers I can find, and ship them to New Jersey! Just think, people are unprotected (very limited CCW), but poisonous snakes are protected - shows how screwy the world is!

BTW, we use traps to kill the mice & pack rats that get near the house - it helps to keep the snakes away.
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Old May 16, 2013, 08:28 AM   #20
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Snakes are not always sitting still. If they are headed towards you it is a rare person who can hit one with a bullet.
I have killed a fair number of copperheads and water moccasins with shot shells. Some were killed with .22 mag. from my Ruger Single Six. But most were killed with shot shells I hand loaded using #7 1/2 shot from my Ruger .44 mag. It's dognut shaped patter reached quite a ways to kill them in my farm ponds.
I only killed venemous snakes. And will do so anytime I see them.
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Old May 16, 2013, 12:00 PM   #21
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I have had rattlers pursue me until I shot them.
Rattlesnakes and Copperheads are ambush predators. I've never had one pursue me and I have seen a lot of them. With rattlesnakes, you can just sort of shoo them away in the woods. Copperheads seem to just want to lay there perhaps thinking they have not been discovered? The water moccasin may pursue and that's one deal I can't figure out. Curiosity? Possessed? Dinner? Doesn't seem to make any sense to me on the ground. In water, I could see them pursuing somewhat or seem to pursue.
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Old May 16, 2013, 12:06 PM   #22
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If you hit the snake in the body with a regular bullet, all you do is **** it off, especially rattlers. Gotta hit in the head to kill 'em. If you can hit a moving 50 cet piece that is bobbing back and forth 2 feet off the ground with a bullet then you can get a coiled rattler. I can't so I use shot shells.

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Old May 16, 2013, 02:35 PM   #23
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I'm in South Florida...SW Miami. I'm used to those little freaks. Any large stick, shovel, or my personal favorite..a machete would suffice. Ammo is too expensive nowadays to be shooting them into the ground.
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Old May 16, 2013, 03:08 PM   #24
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We get lots of venomous snakes in my part of the world - rattlesnakes, water moccasins, copperheads. Even the occasional coral snake. I've got pet critters and human critters on my property, so you had better believe that if I run across any of the snakes above in my yard, I'm going to do whatever I can to eliminate them. And it's foolish to think that smaller examples of these snakes (particularly rattlers) are in any way "safe" - juvenile rattlers, unlike grown examples, don't have a regulatory mechanism that limits the amount of venom they inject - so they are likely to dump a much larger amount of venom into you (assuming their fangs can penetrate your clothing and pierce your skin) than an adult rattler.

I don't like to get close to any dangerous animal - if I can stay twenty feet away or more from it and dispatch it, that's what I'm going to do. Snakes are much faster than I am.
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Old May 16, 2013, 09:02 PM   #25
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I have killed well over a hundred rattlers around my home place, 44 in one year. They bite my dogs & horses, so they have to go. My ex stepped on two of them. Bite only to boots, no damage except fright.

I use snake shot in a .22 that I always have in my pocket. As others stated, it is easier to hit them & no ricochets to worry about. I only remember one snake that I had to shoot twice with .22 shot to kill it.
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