I keep walking to the half-glass back door to be sure it’s still there. Still dead. Ridiculous, I know, with several double 00 buckshot through its throat. Lethal even in death and requiring careful handling, but now rolled over onto its belly, half a dozen flies wandering around the 3 1/2 feet of cottonmouth moccasin snake.
Buck doesn’t like to kill snakes unless he is 90% sure they’re the venomous type and so close to the house as to present a danger to a sometimes incautious woodsman like me.
Lou and I went out the back gate about 6:45 this morning for our short walk around the house (before the later longer walk to the gate). We had taken only a few steps on the sidewalk when I saw a large snake between us and a big oak tree at the back of the garage. I saw it just before Lou did, and (hallelujah) she sat at heel on my command. She intently watched as the snake moved away from us into the cover of underbrush at the base of the tree. Once the snake started moving, Lou made strange noises in her throat, then strained at the leash and barked. She didn’t struggle, however, when I turned her and headed back to the enclosed portion of the backyard.
Buck emerged from the bedroom earlier than usual to get ready for a routine doctor’s appointment. I told him about our encounter, put Lou in her crate, and went back outside with my camera to see if it was still there. I saw a portion of it in the underbrush. Buck came out, walked rapidly to the tree with me saying “Wait! It’s a big snake! Be careful!” He’s saying “Where is it?” and I’m saying “Right in front of you. You’re about to step on it!”
So the snake was standing it’s ground, half hidden in the bushes, head rising at a roughly 45 degree angle. Decision made, Buck heads into the house, telling me “Watch it.” Right.
He returned with his 12-gauge shotgun, held it on the snake who by this time was gaping his mouth to show the snowy white insides and getting himself into an aggressive posture.
Later, Buck said he wasn’t a hundred percent sure it was a cottonmouth rather than some pretender water snake. But my poor photos (so I was nervous, okay?) show the eliptical pupil, single rather than double scales on the underside of the tale, heat-sensing pit between eye and nose, and triangular head. After seeing the pictures, Buck was glad he took the shot. Me, too.
No telling how long this fellow had been living under the house, or at the edge of the woods. Or he may have been recently drawn to the bounty of frogs and lizards who come to our night lights in search of bugs. We’ve had a lot of rain this summer, near daily thunder storms, plus a neighbor with large holdings on our south line is timbering his property, so there’s no telling what may be running our way to escape the skidders and logging trucks.