Friday, June 20, 2014

Stalking a Red Hills Rattlesnake

     Am I really crazy?  I don't think so.  I find two things particularly fascinating.  One is a group of what I consider to be the most graceful animals, snakes.  The other is the reaction of people towards snakes.  Here I present a simple photo study of one of our fascinating Kansas reptiles, the Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis.)
     On a recent trip to the Red Hills with friends, Lee Ann and a couple of grandkids in tow, we came across this rattlesnake sunning in the road.  Abruptly sliding to a ditch-side stop, we corralled the wily beast in a mid-way slither across the sandy road.  Grabbing my snake stick, I gently teased the venomous serpent into a classic "coiled and ready to strike" pose.  The video crew with me took video, Jeff Rumans (below) and I took stills and grandson Paxon helped keep an eye on the snake.  Through explanation below, I present the photo event.  To me, it was quite a normal thing to do.  This rattlesnake was very, very docile.  It hardly rattled although it had every reason to be pissed at me.  For several minutes, the video tape rolled and Jeff shot pics.  Then leaving the snake under Paxon's watchful and serious stare (from a very safe distance), I grabbed my cam and went to work at ground level.  A couple of these shots were posted on The Nature Conservancy's facebook page and the reactions of the FB community was quite interesting.  Its always clear that snakes get attention.  That's why I used them for years in educational programs.  But I'm still fascinated by people's reactions to snakes, nearly as much as I am by the incredible creatures themselves.  Here's the story:

     Jeff Rumans stalks the venomous reptile.  Actually Jeff was just getting up from taking a picture of me on the other side of the snake who was obviously taking pics too.

     The rest of the gang videos and watches from the sidelines.  Adaira is kept well back by g-ma.

Paxon keeps a serious and watchful eye on the snake as I grab my camera.

      Shooting the snake with a 35-135 zoom at a safe distance although Jeff's telephoto looks like it's right in front of my nose.
Photo by Jeff Rumens

     Jeff's side shot shows I was well enough back for safety.  Rattlesnake--3ft long.  Distance to my nose--over 4ft.  That's ample buffer for this guy.
Photo by Jeff Rumens

     My shot at eyeball-to-eyeball level.  Isn't he/she beautiful?!

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