Wednesday, April 12, 2017

An April Rattlesnake Strikes My Hunting Dog

The small canebrake rattlesnake that bit Chester,
did not have any rattles, thus gave no warning.
The warm winter has created some challenges for those who like to spend time in the outdoors, with an extended allergy season likely the cause with the broadest range of effects. For prescribed fire managers, and turkey hunters, the threat of encountering a snake can be mitigated somewhat by wearing snake boots. On April 4, during a simple afternoon dog walk with my English Setter bird dog, a chance encounter with a small canebrake rattler admitted me into the unenviable club of attending to a canine under the influence of snake venom.
The left leg became very swollen 
from the snake bite for 48 hours.
The subject of any rattlesnake bite is a serious one, so I want to share first that my hunting dog survived this encounter, with the assistance of emergency veterinary care. At 9-years of age, my bird dog is a veteran of countless quail hunts in piney woods, where the chance of wildlife encounters are very high. However, this afternoon walk in Western Colleton County was along a well-worn trail not far from the house at our family farm. We literally had walked by the same spot hundreds of times over the years.

A few blades of early spring grass conspired to make a clump of cover that was just big enough to make this small rattler feel concealed. The dog was walking ahead of me, and was likely on top of the snake before either of them realized it. When Chester performed a circus jump, moving upward and backward at the same time, I peered into the grassy patch and visually confirmed my worst fear that a rattlesnake had just struck my dog. What to do now? In that instant, your life switches into family crisis mode!

To view the feature story in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about canebrake rattlesnakes click on Edisto Serpentarium.

To view past blog entries on snakes click September Snakes Seen Slithering - Duck Season Snakes -  2014 Snakes at SEWE - 2016 SEWE

To view past blog entries about encounters with the natural world click on Hummingbird Moth - American Oystercatcher Bats - Snakes - Honey Bees - Wood Storks

To view past blog entries about Field Notes and Photos click on January 2017December 2016 - June 2016 - February 2016December 2015 - October 2015 - September 2015 - August 2015 - July 2015 - June 2015 - February 2105 - October 2014  September 2014 - August 2014 - June 2014 - March 2012 - February 2012 - October 2011 - September 2011

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