Water Moccasin Ye Ha!

Growin’ up in Carthage, Texas (Northeast Texas in the piney woods) in the early 1960’s, a boy is eventually going to run into the infamous Cotton Mouth snake, also known as a Water Moccasin.

Back in the 1960’s, your dad could just call one of his many friends to ask if his boys could hunt on some of their land, which was normally hundreds of acres of sweet, pine wooded forests. The answer was invariably, “Sure, Jimmy!” In no time, kids would be off on another big adventure.

Most often there would be a small lake or at least one or more watering “tanks” (i.e., ponds) on the land, which would be infested with innumerable water moccasins.

Water moccasins are the 2nd most venomous snake in Texas, surpassed in lethal hazard only by the better known Diamond Backed Rattler. They are, however, unsurpassed in aggression. Most snakes will try everything they can to avoid you. Not water moccasins. They come for ya.

Now, in fairness, sometimes they come into your boat only because they think you’re a log and hope a big juicy frog will be on top. But, bottom line, when given the choice, they’ll pick a fight.

Peering up from the forest floor - soft rays of light streaming through the leaves.

Two raggedly dressed 14 year old boys zig-zagged through the dense, slender pines of a Northeast Texas forest. They were on a quest to each harvest a belt full of grey and cat squirrel.

Western Cottonmouth

As the boys got deep into the woods, they came upon a rare sight! There before their eyes, lay on the ground two of the largest water moccasins either boy had ever seen. They each had to be a good six feet in length, and close to two inches in diameter.

The real surprise, however, was that one was eating the other! The loser was about one foot down the throat of the victor.

This was truly worthy of thorough exploration! Their nemesis could do nothing but sit there and hope these boys would just move along and leave them be. Of course, … that was asking too much.

Needless to say, Mike had to pick the snakes up. It didn’t seem that stupid at the time. After all, his teeth slanted inward, right? … like a ratchet, right? There was no way the dining snake could put the dined-upon snake in reverse, could he?

Mike grabbed the victorious snake about 1/3rd of the way from the tail and lifted it as high as he could. Over the next few moments, Mike was reminded of one fact and taught another concerning snakes. Staring eye to eye with his now-not-so-powerful, now-not-so-formidable foe he was reminded that snakes don’t blink. He then learned that they can dislocate their jaw, and release whatever was in their mouth.

As the dined-upon snake fell to the ground with a thump and a whoosh in the forest leaves, Mike suddenly had a profound sense of how bad his judgment was. He did not wait for the snake in his hand to recoil. He instantly began swinging the snake as hard as he could to force its head out to the distant perimeter of a circle. This was a yet another lesson for Mike, … in how valuable centrifugal force can be when the situation calls for it.

As he frantically considered his options, he heard the rustling of the formerly-dined-upon snake! With considerable horror, he realized that, not only did he have one of the largest cotton mouths he’d ever seen in his life by its tail. The other snake was alive!

The snake on the ground was heading straight for Mike’s feet! So, while Mike was swinging his snake as hard as he could, he began doing what resembled an exotic, native Indian dance, and screaming to Robin, “Shoot it! Shoot the one on the ground, Robin!”

Robin was laughing too hard to get a clean shot.

The snake was coming fast, and would be upon Mike’s leg any moment. Suddenly, the ground exploded around Mike’s feet as Rob expertly squeezed off a round in the ground.

The formerly dined-upon snake was now a clear and final loser. In an instant, however, Mike’s terror flitted from the threat heading towards his feet to wondering if he still had his feet! Still swinging the remaining snake as hard as he could, he quickly glanced at one foot, then the other… no … no … they seemed … OK. All toes were there. No holes in or blood on the shoes.

Mike finally had the presence of mind to walk over to a tree and slap the head of the snake he was swinging against the bark of a tree, until it no longer had its head.

This story is 100% true… but I can’t promise that all of the ones I tell will be. ;o)

This post was submitted by Mike Strong.

4 thoughts on “Water Moccasin Ye Ha!

  1. Two bumpkins in the woods looking for adventure.

    In E. TX today, the snakes are not as plentiful as they were back in the 60’s. Fire ants and wild hogs are probably responsible for some of the decline.

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