full circle in the hundred acre wood



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.




8 thoughts on “Cottonmouth Moccasin

  1. That’s a BIG moccasin! Nothing meaner or more evil looking. Good kill, guys. Almost makes me miss Florida.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Beth says:

      He was a powerful dude, and not a bit interested in giving ground. Kinda makes me want to hibernate in the air-conditioning and walk Lou on the treadmill until fall!


  2. florice haas says:

    YIKES! almost makes me NOT miss Florida. Be careful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beth says:

      Hey Flo! I believe you saved my scrawny self from almost sitting on one of these beauties when we were young a hundred years ago and fishing in the phosphate pits. Did I imagine that?


      1. florice haas says:

        no, you didn’t imagine it. probably saw lots of them too when we fished at Lake Panosafagee(sp?) plenty of snakes in Fla. that’s a big one though.


      2. Beth says:

        Fortunately, Buck’s a totally cool head with years of experience with snakes and other critters, starting with when he was a little kid and his parents had a fish camp in Molino on the Escambia River. At age 10, his job was to rent out the motorboats. Once they were all rented, he was free to hire himself out as a fishing guide. In all the years we’ve been together, though, we’ve seen many snakes, including plenty of rattlesnakes, but I can only recall him killing four: one was a coral snake that got in the house after Hurricane Ivan (that was fun), two were moccasins, and the other was a huge timber rattlesnake when we lived near Asheville in North Carolina.


  3. Wally Jones says:

    That’ll get your heart started in the morning! As the old saying goes: “I ain’t afraid of snakes but I sure do respect ’em a lot.” Cottonmouths I seem to “respect” more than most ’cause you can’t trust them. Some days they slither away at top speed but other times they coil up and show you that white mouth. Once in awhile, they head right for you. THOSE are the ones I REALLY “respect”!

    Good job, Buck. And your camerawoman did okay, too.


    1. Beth says:

      Buck took clippers today and made sure the underbrush was cleared from around that big oak tree in case Mr. Snake has any friends.


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