2007-08-04 / Outdoors

Photos

Just days before the end of the timber rattlesnake season, I was lucky enough to go along with a permitted hunter, searching for the reptiles in their natural habitat, deep in the Quehanna Wild Area in Cameron County. I was guided by a snake enthusiast who carries a permit, but has absolutely no intention on ever killing a snake. He purchases the permit so he can hunt them with a camera without crossing Pa. Fish & Boat Commission boundaries. In just over two hours of 'hunting,' we found nine timber rattlers, all but one of them hiding very much like the one in the top photo. The snake in the bottom photo, a yellowphase youngster is the only one that moved from its hiding place when we approached- to crawl away from us as quickly as possible. Despite getting within just a few feet of them to take photographs, not one of the snakes even considered striking, they stayed hidden and in most cases disappeared deep in crevices beneath the rocks. The area we were in was full of enormous rocks, ledges and caves and blueberry bush undergrowth. You learn one thing when you spend time where rattlensakes live- they are fearful and docile, a far cry from what most people think of them. It is unlawful to handle snakes in the wild without a venomous snake permit, issued by the Fish & Boat Commission. Permitted hunters are allowed to take one snake per season and it has to be a minimum of 42 inches long and have at least 21 subcaudal scales. Permits are very closely regulated. All permitted hunters must submit a report to the Fish & Boat Commission at season's end, regardless of whether or not they harvested a snake.

Hooftallen Photos

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