Watch Out For Those Snakes

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October is that month of perfect weather for Arizona with daytime temperatures comfortable and the evenings starting to cool, where a sweatshirt or light jacket may be needed. Outdoor enthusiasts should be aware that rattlesnakes are still prevalent at this time of year in the Rim Country and the lower desert elevations.

With the opening of the very popular Arizona quail season, shot-gunners are trudging the hills and canyons in pursuit of the feathered rocket, which provides some challenging wing shooting. Snake encounters are very likely, so it certainly pays to watch your next step while in the field.

On a recent archery elk hunt, we had four different encounters that certainly got our attention. Dave Christy, a friend of ours from Homer, Alaska had not previously seen a rattlesnake in the wild. All that changed when he climbed into his ground blind before first light and sat on his stool. His headlamp picked up a movement — it was a coiled rattlesnake beneath his feet. He cautiously raised the tent with a walking stick and flicked the snake out of the blind with the end of his bow. Now that is up close and personal!

There are approximately 8,000 venomous snakebites a year in the United Sates, but less than 1 percent are fatal. If you have been bitten, the first response is to stay calm, immobilize the affected area, and keep that extremity lower than your heart. Medical attention should be sought immediately. Many of the old remedies are not effective and can actually cause more harm if administered.

If you like to hunt birds with a dog, it would be wise to wait until mid-November before Fido assists you in retrieving those quail. Hopefully, by then most of the rattlers will have already gone into hibernation, yet even at that time of year, it is still possible to get a snakebite on a warm afternoon.

According to Dr. Alan Hallman, a longtime Payson veterinarian, “Two precautions dog owners can follow are to get your pet vaccinated against rattlesnake bites and enroll your dog in a snakebite prevention class.”

These are wise recommendations for dog owners who enjoy watching their canine work in the field while hunting.

The fall weather is perfect, the leaves are starting to change colors, so spend some time in the Arizona outdoors — God’s creation.

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