The idea of rattlesnake hunting, although foreign to some people, is a common practice in most regions of the USA. Some of these regions include Arizona, Texas, Alabama, and other parts of the South and Midwest.
So, if you're looking to get into or learn more about rattlesnake hunting, you're in the right place. This article is a beginner's guide to rattlesnake hunting. In addition, you will learn how to increase your protection when hunting while wearing snake chaps and other protective gear.
You'll find varying seasons and laws of live snake hunting across different regions. However, the Spring and Summer months tend to be more favorable for this activity. That said, it is important to have snake chaps for full protection against poisonous snakes while still staying comfortable.
What is Rattlesnake Hunting?
Rattlesnake hunting is a recreational activity for naturalists, outdoors people, and hunters. It involves catching snakes using snake tongs and then containing the snake in a restraining tube.
Snakes are known for their shy, solitary demeanor. While they love to spend time near old structures, around log piles and rocks that warm in the sun, they hide in the shade and stay close to their den sites.
It is important to wear snake chaps for protection during rattlesnake hunting.
But first, let's look at why rattlesnake hunting is popular in the U.S. and where snake chaps come in.
Why Do People Hunt Rattlesnakes?
Different groups of people engage in rattlesnake hunting for various reasons. Each year, regulated snake hunts and roundups in Texas, Alabama, and Georgia provide spectators entertainment. In addition, awards are given for the largest snake, the number of snakes per hunter, and most snakes by weight or the longest snake in the show.
Some people capture rattlesnakes for educational events and festivals that try to enlighten the community against the negative stigma around them. This has resulted from the statistics that show about 15% of all rattlesnakes killed in America due to a lack of education.
Additionally, people also capture snakes for their meat. This is especially popular in other cultures and considered healthy exotic meat.
Rattlesnakes mostly feed on rodents, smaller reptiles, and insects. Because of this, the meat has an earthy taste which is similar to alligator meat. For better context, the flesh is white and a bit rubbery to the touch, similar to quails.
How To Hunt Rattlesnakes Safely
Snakes are considered non-game wildlife and, therefore, not protected by law. However, it is unlawful to capture any wildlife species on public land or along roadways without a permit.
So before reaching for your hunting gear, make sure to get a general hunting license first. Rattlesnake hunting seasons and laws vary from state to state. Therefore, it is advisable to check your local laws before hunting snakes.
What Gear Do You Need for Rattlesnake Hunting?
Hunters often naturally spend time far off the beaten track in remote areas. Therefore, having the proper gear is paramount for protection against poisonous snakes and rough terrain.
There is always a risk associated with rattlesnake hunting, such as snake attacks and bites. Fortunately, recent research and technology have resulted in fewer injuries and fatalities compared to the total number of hunters.
The tools of the trade necessary for a safe hunting session are:
1. Snake Chaps
Snake chaps are clothing made from strong and durable snake-resistant fabric. These chaps are worn over your pants to help prevent snake bites and offer thorn protection while penetrating through the rough terrain.
They are made of high-strength fabric to protect your legs and calves but are still flexible enough to allow movement.
Snake chaps have several layers of material that make them deliver the best protection in the wild. The outside layer has a thick and firm texture to serve as the first defensive line against possible snake bites. In addition, the inner layers need to be about 2 - 3 to serve as additional protection against snake fangs and provide comfort.
It is worth mentioning that snake country areas will require you to hike longer distances through the terrain. Therefore, breathable material in the inner fabric will allow sweat on the legs to dry out.
Having snake chaps that cover the entire leg area, from knees all the way to the ankle, is key to staying protected while hunting for snakes. Choosing loosely fit chaps might seem favorable, but they create loopholes for snake bites.
Tight-fitting snake chaps, on the other hand, inhibit mobility while traversing. So, going for chaps that fit properly is ideal. Additionally, ensure they're shorter than your regular pants to avoid dragging them on the ground.
Different rattlesnake chaps have differences in strength, thickness, breathability, protection areas, flexibility, and, most importantly, price. They range from under $100 to a few hundred dollars. However, the most expensive chaps don't 100% guarantee protection against the others.
Certainly not against a possible snake bite!
Therefore, it is advisable to go for snake chaps that have been field-tested with snakes or another method that mimics the same force.
Considering the various factors mentioned above, you should be able to determine the best pair for you that checks the most boxes. The brand you choose should provide enough information about the number of layers included, details around the testing, waterproof capabilities, and specific sizing.
2. Snake Tongs/Hook
These are useful for grabbing snakes, especially if you are newer to snake hunting. If pressed too hard, they can hurt the snakes, so using tongs with a wider mouth allows for limited pressure when handling the snake.
3. Snakeproof Boots
Opting for leather-type shoes is prudent for protection against snake bites on the ankle area of the foot. Of course, you could also go for knee-high boots, but the downside is their cast-like feel which is rather uncomfortable.
4. Snake Gaiters
The other option would be using gaiters. Commonly used for hiking, gaiters are fabric guard that covers the gap between your boots and trousers.
Think of gaiters as a cut-off sleeve that runs from your knees to the ankles, with an attached loop on one end to easily hook under your boot heel using a strap
Gaiters are made using polyester, a synthetic fabric to offer additional protection against live snakes. They cover the critical area at the top of your boot, which usually loosens as you walk. Aside from protection against snake bites, gaiters provide thorn protection and stop debris, such as stones, branches, and mud, from entering your boots.
5. Miscellaneous Gear
Snacks and drinks are important for outdoor activities. They help to replenish the energy used throughout the hike.
Something else that is overlooked is carrying a bag or sack for storing the snakes. Alternatively, snake restraining tubes are better as they confine them completely while still allowing you to measure their length and check for sex.
Finally, some people prefer to carry snakes in a cooler box with ice, which helps calm the snakes' nerves.
Now that you know the tools of the trade, let's look at how to catch one!
How To Catch and Kill Snakes
A pair of tongs or hooks help with catching snakes before confining them in a fluorescent tube or sack. Next, you can use a machete or long knife to cut the snake's head from a distance.
Alternatively, hitting the live snakes behind using a heavy stick is also a great method to put them down. However, it is worth noting that this does not stop them from striking back.
Once the snake has died, cutting and burying the head underground will ensure that you have completely neutralized it.
In states like Pennsylvania, checking the sex and length of the snake is mandatory to take it legally. For example, male rattlesnakes must have 21 or more subcaudal scales running from the anus to the rattle. In addition, they have to be 42 inches or more to be killed and tagged.
How To Cook Rattlesnake
You might be surprised to know that, if cooked right, snake meat is good, just like any other meat.
First, use a sharp knife to remove the snakes' thin skin.
Remember to use a pair of gloves because snakes, just like raw turtles or chickens, can carry salmonella.
Afterward, pull out the internal organs such that you are only left with the body meat.
Next, snake meat can be grilled. Before placing the meat on the grill, spread a coat of olive oil and add dry-rub seasoning to enhance flavor.
Another method for cooking involves:
Cut the rattlesnake into 3-inch pieces.
Then, soak the meat in buttermilk for 30 minutes to an hour.
Next, combine salt, garlic powder, cornstarch, peppers, and flour in a medium bowl separately and set aside.
Heat some oil in a pan up to 165 degrees Celsius and dredge the meat pieces in the flour.
Cook the flour-coated meat for 2 to 3 minutes until the pieces are golden brown. Cooking in batches helps to avoid overcrowding the pan.
Stone Creek Snake Chaps
If you're looking for a new adventure and are considering rattlesnake hunting, it can be a fun experience if you follow the right safety measures.
So if you're ready to consider rattlesnake hunting, you can pick up a pair of snake chaps from Stone Creek. Our wide array of chaps manufactured in Pennsylvania have high-density nylon and are sourced in the USA.
This means that you can trust their quality, strength, and durability. Stone Creek chaps are also super comfortable and flexible, so traversing the outdoors should be a breeze.