Slithering Snake Stories
One day Israel Johnson was out walking near his mill pond in the Oconee District of Laurens County when he observed a moccasin crawling out of a hole. Johnson reached for the nearest stick and impaled the water loving serpent right there on the spot. In a moment, another moccasin came slithering out of the same hole. Then came another and then another. This went on until Johnson's pile of dead moccasins totaled thirty-four, all about fourteen inches in length. Macon Telegraph, Sept. 17, 1887.
When most people go out into the woods, one of the reasons they wear boots is to keep snakes from biting their feet. W.H. McLendon, of Rockledge, had his boots on when he went out squirrel hunting with some of his friends. At the end of a successful day, McLendon, who had felt something in his boot but ignored it, noticed a small hole in one of his boots. Just then, a small snake, several inches in length, came squirming out of his boot. Atlanta Constitution, Oct. 25, 1942.
C.G. Gunnin was proud of his snake. He brought it into the offices of the Courier Herald to show it off. Killed near Norristown in Emanuel County, the snake had a short hard point on its tail shaped like a rattler's fangs, instead of the normal horn. The people in Norristown said the snake used its tail to kill its prey. Similar in appearance to a rattler, the snake was more than five feet long. Atlanta Constitution, May 21, 1914.
Smith Williams was proud of his snakes too. He put three of the rattlers in his suit case and headed from Wrightsville to the District Fair in Dublin to show them off. One was five feet long with eight rattles, while the other two were much smaller. Williams had raised the snakes from neonates. Although he removed the fangs from the largest rattler, the younger vipers were capable of deadly bites. On the trip, the bouncing passenger car annoyed one of the smaller snakes. Its defiant rattling caused much consternation among the passengers until they discovered that the snakes were confined to William's securely locked baggage. No one asked to see inside.
To keep the snakes company, Williams brought along a five-year-old dog and six-month-old fox. Williams had also raised them from birth. Now, you might say what is unusual about a dog and a fox. The fox, one of the grey variety, was said to be tame and possessed the ability to understand his name when called. Well, the dog was just a dog, but when Williams put his five animals on display, the crowd got a chance to see the canines play with each other like puppies. Macon Telegraph, Nov. 5, 1913.
In the category of "Maybe I should move," J.C. Jones told another true tale about another snake he found in his yard. One of his most valuable hounds was bitten by a rattler. In order to save the dog, Jones drenched its wound in kerosene. The old remedy worked and the dog survived. Apparently Jones had not learned his lesson as it was the fiftieth time in three years that a rattlesnake was killed inside his dog pen. Macon Telegraph, June 28, 1886.
For nearly fifty years, it was said that a huge rattlesnake lived in the cliffs of Jennie's Creek in Johnson County. Many people tried to find the legendary rattler and kill it. No one succeeded until one day when a cow, belonging to Mr. Dan Davis, was found to be bitten by a large rattler. Davis offered a handsome reward of $25.00 to anyone who would bring him the lifeless corpse of the dastardly diamondback. One of his farm hands fetched two .38 caliber pistols and set out to follow the distinct trail of the snake back to its den. The man climbed a tree in front of the cave where he suspected the snake to be resting. He waited. After a four-hour stakeout, the snake appeared. The man fired nine shots into the venomous monster. After making sure it was dead, the bounty hunter measured his prize to be eighteen feet in length and twenty-nine inches in circumference. The rattle end of its tail measured two feet long and was eight inches wide. Senior citizens of the area remarked that they had heard of the monster reptile since their childhood. I am not saying that Mr. Davis and his friends were exaggerating, but my research indicates that the largest Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake ever found measured only eight feet in length. Maybe this was a freak of nature. Who knows? But, if I see a rattlesnake which is at least eight feet long, it won't matter at all if he has another ten more feet of tail added on. I am out of there! Atlanta Constitution, Sept. 16, 1897.
In a more believable story, Nannie Rushton, of Laurens County, killed a seven-foot rattler with eighteen rattlers in the fall of 1908. Washington Post, Oct. 25, 1908.
There were plenty of reports of people getting bit by snakes and dying from their wounds, but undoubtedly the most tragic story came in the spring of 1887. Two miles below Dublin a man was out working in the field. He discovered a large copperhead snake. Afraid of an up close and arms length attack on the snake, he ran back to his home to fetch a pistol. His niece, Ella Griffin, ran back with him to watch her uncle shoot the snake. When the copperhead was aroused, it maneuvered itself into position to attack. This frightened the little girl who ran toward her uncle for safety. Just as the man fired, the girl ran straight into the path of the bullet, which struck her in the abdomen and inflicted severe internal bleeding which was thought to have been ultimately fatal. Atlanta Constitution, May 25, 1887.
Jess Jones and Henry Barry, Jr. were in the swamps of Gum Creek squirrel hunting one day when they noticed a peculiar squirrel running up and down the side of a tree. Every time the squirrel went down the tree, it would go a little closer to the ground. Their curiosity aroused, the boys moved in closer to investigate. At the base of the tree, the hunters found two large rattlers eyeing their supper. The boys shot the snakes and the squirrel lived to tell its own snake story. Washington Post, Sept. 28, 1913.
Usually, snakes are charmed by gifted and misguided snake charmers. But over in Dodge County, there was a story about the snake being the charmer and Giles Melton's ol' dog being the charmed and last victim of a devilish rattler. Melton noticed his dog approaching him in an unusual manner. The dog was crouching down, whining, and refusing to notice his master as it was slowly moving away. Melton noticed that his dog was slowly creeping toward a coiled rattlesnake. He had seen his dog kill snakes before, but he had never seen it trembling and mindlessly drifting toward a deadly snake. As the dog got within striking range, Melton feared that it was being charmed by the snake. So, Melton fired his gun and killed the snake. The dog collapsed to the ground and began to foam at the mouth. It eventually recovered, but the next morning Melton found his prized dog in an advanced state of hydrophobia. He had no choice. "Mad dogs" had to be killed. Atlanta Constitution, Sept. 22, 1888.
So watch where you step, even after Dog Days are gone. Snakes don't go blind and strike at anything just during Dog Days which end on August 11. They don't watch the calendar. They are watching you!