Josh and I had the opportunity to make a weekend trip to SC, and of course we jumped on it. Josh drove down Thursday evening after work, and I jumped on an evening flight to meet him on Friday. I am not complaining about the heat, but it was HOT. For all you hunters, you know that this means the animals were not moving. SC does not allow you to hunt hens (female turkeys) at all, so that allows for each male turkey to have quite a few girlfriends. This makes it nearly impossible to call one in. That is exactly what we experienced on Saturday morning. Josh and I headed out with Perry, who used to be a hunting guide for outfitters in SC and is a family friend, and while we heard one or two gobblers-we didn’t see any. Perry headed home, and Josh and I got changed and started moving some tree stands around. A timber company had come in and cut down the trees on a few spots on the property, so this meant there were a couple of tree stands left on lone trees in the middle of a giant field. Not exactly camouflaged. Josh got the tractor out of the barn and off we went. Josh taught me how to drive the tractor. Moving the bucket around is super fun!
After lunch at Lester’s, Josh headed back into the woods with Perry to try and chase down some turkeys, while I took a quick nap before hog hunting. When Josh and Perry weren’t back by 6:00PM, I loaded up the ranger and headed out. Foreshadowing is an amazing literary technique; I just wish I could recognize it when it happens in real life. I was about to walk out the door, when my gaze came across the Tuarus Judge (handgun). This thing had been attached to my hip all afternoon, in case any snakes or angry pigs decided to attack, but I decided that having my .308 was enough protection. Let’s just say I should have listened to my gut.
I parked the ranger about 300 yards away from the stand I would be sitting in, sprayed myself down with anti-scent spray, and headed out to my stand. Literally the second I sat down I realized that I had left the Kodak Cam on the back of the ranger. I hoped Josh would see it when he came out to meet me in the stand and grab it. The temperature at this point in the day was a steamy ninety degrees; there was no way that I was walking all the way back to the ranger for it. I settled myself into my stand, which meant taking off a few layers due to the extreme heat, unpacking my hog calls, getting the Blackberry out (remember Josh wasn’t with me yet), and loading my .308. Finally I was settled and ready to try out these calls. I knew that it was way too early for the hogs to make their entrance, it was still way too hot, but I figured I would give the calls a try anyway. Both calls were Primos brand, a squealer and a grunt, and I decided to give the grunt call a try. I had been practicing with both at home, and felt much more confident with my grunting ability than my squealing ability. I took a few deep breaths, and made some short breaths into the call. The result, in my opinion, sounded exactly like a hog. The rustling in the leaves at my feet had my blood pumping! I had actually called something in! Holy cow, this was exciting! All of my other experience calling animals had never gone well. Finally, something I was good at! I reached for my .308 and scanned the ground in front of my stand.
OH MY GOD. That is not a pig. That is a snake. A very menacing, slithering, looking for a camouflaged snack sitting in a tree stand, snake.
Panic. That is the only word to accurately describe how I felt in that exact minute. Panic because I left the Judge on the table. Panic because Josh was not here to rescue me. Panic because I didn’t know what type of snake it was (not that it really makes a difference in how I would have handled the situation). Panic because I don’t know if snakes can climb tress (think The Jungle Book, when that black snake is wrapped around the branches of the tree-HELLO I AM SITTING IN FRONT OF A GIANT TREE!). Panic because I do not know what to do.
Option 1: Do nothing. Hopefully my slithery enemy will pass quietly by and leave me alone.
Option 2: Shoot it. The problem with this is two-fold. If I shoot and hit it, will it explode up at me? Dear God that is terrifying. If I shoot and miss it, will I scare it into jumping up into the tree I am sitting in front of? Equally as terrifying.
Option 3: Retreat back to the ranger and leave. Though this means I must walk past the snake to escape. That is not going to happen.
Option 4: Call Jarrid. Not quite sure what I expected him to do from PA, but hopefully he would have some wonderful nugget of advice that would tell me how to repel a snake from my location without actually doing anything. Some type of mind hypnosis would be perfect.
My exchange with Jarrid went exactly like this:
Me: What do rattle snakes look like????
Jarrid: Do you see a snake??? (Oh no, I was just curious-YES I SEE A SNAKE)
Me: Yes!!!! Can they climb trees???
Jarrid: Is it on the road? (Why isn’t he answering any of my questions??)
Me: Under my stand. CAN THEY CLIMB TREES?
Jarrid: They shouldn’t climb up…but make sure Josh knows you seen one under the stand before he comes to you. Try shooting it if you want. What color is it and how long and is it fat or skinny?
Me: Skinny with a design
Jarrid: Diamond dark designs??
Me: Yes (now I am even more panicked because he must know what it is and it must be something incredibly scary because he won’t tell me)
Jarrid: Just keep your eye on it you’re fine. If you feel safer just have Josh back the ranger right to the stand so you can step from the ladder to the bed of the ranger.
Me: Good idea.
The exchanged continued for a few more minutes as I explained how the useless hog grunt call must have been mis-packaged as a snake-charming device. Needless to say that thing is going into the trash the second I get home. It also goes without saying that I will never go out without the Judge again.
The slithery monster made its way into the bushes behind me, and there were no sightings of him or his friends for the rest of the night. Josh finally made his way to me and the rest of our evening was pretty uneventful. No hogs, no deer, no turkeys. Snakes must have scared them away.
Side Note: Once I got to work on Monday I immediately "googled" the snake that I saw. It was a Copperhead. Yep, extremely poisonous snake willing to kill you and eat you at a moments notice. Awesome.