Rattlesnake Hunter in Opp

"It's real dangerous when it's warm like this."    Don Childre is on the prowl and on this hunt he's all by himself.      "We've been doing this 49 years in Opp and we hunt the same areas every year," Childre said.

Our eyes are glued to the ground.   I'm praying for my life, Don is looking for prey.   But our eyes aren't the only sense we need to use, our ears may be even more important.   We're actually listening for something that would stop almost anything in its tracks, the sound of a rattler.

Yes, I've spent my whole life trying to avoid snakes, now I'm in the woods in Opp looking for them.  And there is an art to it.    "You stick this down there and you can hear the sound coming out of the hose," Childre said.   He rigs up a homemade hunting device, with a long black tube with a metal bolt on the end.    He looks for gopher tortoise holes, sticks in the hose and listens.   If he hears the tap of a gopher shell, he moves on, we leave Mr. Gopher alone.    But when he hears that heart stopping rattle, it's time to go to work.   Childre then puts a hook on the end of the tube and pulls the snake out.

This is definitely something you should leave for the experts, these rattlers are completely unpredictable.    "You may walk within 2 feet and never know he's there or he could strike without even making rattle."

On this day we were lucky and unlucky.   We didn't find any rattlers in the gopher holes, but hooray, lucky for us Don brought his own snake so he could show us he scoops them up.    "I've got a finger on the back of his head so he can't move around. He's locked in.   These things (fangs) are like hypodermic needles, they have a hemo-toxin that ruptures the red blood cell."

That's why I stand way back, leave it to the experts.  Every year folks in Opp round up the rattlers for the Rattlesnake Rodeo.  It's usually the first Saturday in April.   They have snake races,  fried rattlesnake, and there are even some fun things for the non snake lovers.