Originally Posted by Don Kirk
As a matter of fact, three years I released a 24" copperhead alive after I had deftly removed its fangs. (Forceps are handy dandy fishing vest gadgets.)
Many people recommend killing the murderous serpents on sight, and I would not be too quick to contemn their assertions. I personally believe that defanging these vipers is adequate, unless of course you are making a hat band or savor their flaky white meat, as then the demise of the belly crawling vermin is a active consideration. I do not know if the NPS issues rattler/copperhead permits any more, but the next time I am at the Sugarlands, I will ask. Itís always better to ask firstÖ
By "defanging" the copperhead it is highly likely that you condemed it to a death by starvation when you released it. You would have been doing it a favor to have simply killed it by decapitation. Without it's fangs it would have been like you trying to land a trout on a fly tyed on a straight needle.
A copperhead or rattler does make my heart race when I first spot them but, once I've saw them they don't bother me. I was "tagged" by a copperhead in the Cherokee National forest once while on a deer hunt in November. By sheer luck he struck my pants leg and his fangs struck the fold in my pants leg and they didn't make it to skin. He then was stuck to my pants and I began to dance, yell, and scream like a crazy man trying to get him loose. The guy with me thought I was being stung by yellow jackets and dropped his cart and ran. I shucked my pack off my back and finally stomped the sucker off my pants only to have him slither under my pack. NICE!!! I jerked my pack up real quick and was met by a white mouth coming at me that looked like it could have swallowed a baseball. I finally got a stick long enough to move him and flipped him off the trail and down into the cold creek about 30 yards away. Then my crazy friend (still standing safely down the trail) went to shooting at him. The snake was no worse off after they guy ran out of bullets than he was before he started shooting. I tore off my pants and while standing in my skivvies had my buddy check me for holes that weren't surposed to be there and thankfully, there were none.
Another time I had stopped to listen for my dogs while runnning then in the early fall and started to feel something moving under my boot. When I turned on my flash light I was straddling a 12" copper head under my boot and he was striking my boot. Little fella just wanted my 230# off him and he beat a quick retreat.
Another time I while running my dogs one night I stopped to pee and in mid .... stream.... I heard a vibrating sound. I reached for my phone, which I carry on vibrate but, there was no one calling. That was interesting. After I finished I stood there a second to see if I could hear it again and I did. It was almost at my feet. My first thought was "oh crap I'm standing on the entrance of a yellow jackets nest". I didn't know what to do so I just ran several yards and flipped on my light fully expecting to see 100's of yellow jackets filling the air but, there was nothing. My curiosity got the better of me and I went to investigate and there laying on the ground soaking wet was an 18-20" rattler. I had peed on the sucker!! The reason he didn't make the tail taled rattler sound (I guessed)was that he only had a single button.
I have saw more copperheads (interestingly I've only saw 2 rattlers thou) on the other side of Chilhowee lake while hunting. That place seems to be crawling with copperheads or maybe it's because I spend so much time there. I've saw several swimming the lake and if you want to know if it's a copperhead or water snake watch it's head. A water snake swims with it's head at or near the water line and their body appears to be "sinking" in the water but, a copperhead (and rattler) USUALLY swims with their heads higher (3" or so) off the water and their body all most appears to be floating.