In Cold Blood

PELLETS TRUMP FANGS
7

This Mad Max-style side-by-side 12-ga. pistol is a mission-specific snake-killing tool.
When stoked with Aguila mini shells, recoil isn’t bad.

The petite woman had been out hiking along a riverbank with her kids. The water moccasin caught her just above the right ankle. By the time we met in the ER her leg already looked pretty gross.

What followed was a long, laborious recovery involving both antivenin and surgery. She kept the leg, but it was a tough road. There are those who will take umbrage at what follows, but you might just have to get over it. I simply despise venomous snakes.

A centenarian Remington Model 11 — ceramic engine block paint, cool-guy stuff from Brownells and a
Gator Shotgun Spreader from Paradigm SRP makes this a snake-slaying machine.

Roll Call

There are four major players in North America, only three of which are usually troublesome. Water moccasins, rattlesnakes, and copperheads are pit vipers and ubiquitous where I live. Coral snakes employ a neurotoxin akin to that of a cobra, but they are both rare and timid.

I’ve heard all the arguments about how venomous snakes eat rats and such and are therefore really our pals. Whatever! Down here in the Deep South we refer to them as targets that can kill you. Bird-hunting aside, venomous snakes are the real reason God made shotguns.

Water Moccasins are the major players in Will’s Area of Operations. This pic explains
the “Cottonmouth” nickname. Photo: Geoff Gallice

Amphibious Operations

I was out with a buddy in a johnboat during a Mississippi Delta flood. We were either too young for live firearms or couldn’t afford the ammo. Our defensive weaponry this day was a recurve bow and a couple of cedar arrows tipped with broadheads. I was in the front of the boat.

The current got the better of us, and we slammed nose-first into thick brush. I rolled backwards, fully enveloped in limbs, leaves, spider webs and bugs. When the boat came to a stop I was also nose-to-nose with a simply gigantic water moccasin.

I shouted for my buddy to extricate us, but nothing happened. Afraid to take my eyes off the snake hovering maybe 6" away from my eyeball, I noticed the tip of a broadhead appear next to my right ear. Before I could speak the world exploded in a maelstrom of muddy water and goop. The snake was gone.

I disentangled my end of the boat from the snake’s lair while vigorously expressing my displeasure with my buddy’s risky solution to my problem. Now he wanted his arrow back, the fletching of which was sticking out of the water and quivering.

He gingerly lifted the arrow to find it had pinned the snake to the creekbed. The missile had passed into its open mouth and through its lower jaw. The snake had been mere milliseconds away from biting me in the face. We beat the thing to death with a log and called it a day.

Copperheads are dangerous but less so than the Cottonmouth. Photo: Wikimedia

Close Call

My daughter was seven and the most adorable carbon-based life form on the planet. (You may recall she was my able gun photographer before she left for college some years back.) We live way out in the wilderness and, like most little kids, she liked to run about barefoot.

As she scampered down the stone steps to the lake that serves as our backyard, I saw something move. I snatched her up just as her little pink foot was plunging into a massive coiled moccasin on the next step. The snake had its head cocked back and its mouth open, showing us its ample dentures. I restarted my heart, placed my daughter a safe distance away, and expeditiously retrieved my cut-down Remington 870 12-gauge.

The gun is an NFA-registered short-barreled shotgun with a 12" tube. I jacked a shell into the chamber and arranged my muffs as I ran back outside. In moments the snake and I were staring at each other over the front sight bead.

I didn’t want to blow a divot out of the steps, so we had a bit of a Mexican standoff. Eventually he blinked and retreated down the steps at speed. I drew a bead on the spot where he would fly off the end, my finger poised on the trigger.

The blasted snake just dove into the water without giving me a shot. In frustration I ran to the last step and cycled four rounds into the reeds, throwing copious mud and detritus heavenward. I was actually both shocked and thrilled to find myself showered with snake entrails.

Western Diamondbacks get massive. Will has encountered Texas specimens that were simply breathtaking. Photo: Wikimedia

Herp Hardware

I built a cut-down side-by-side 12-gauge pistol via a BATF Form 1 specifically because it handles Aguila Mini Shells. The 870 has obviously claimed its share of scaly scalps. My current primary counter-snake gun is a heavily modified, century-old Remington Model 11. I bag a couple each year and tan the hides. We can’t stroll about in the dark without boots, but we’re not overrun.
Good riddance!

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