In a recent story on Flyfishmagazine.com I spoke of the fact that South Mountains State Park is home to a vast population of Rattlesnakes and Copperheads. Well little did I know so is my front yard here in Huntersville, NC. About 10:00 PM tonight a neighbor rang my door bell and said that he didn't want to alarm me but there was a three foot long Copperhead in my yard. I grabbed my trusty shovel and proceeded to verify that he was not exaggerating. There was a very large viper (not manufactured by Dodge) at the edge of my lawn.
After much debate about the best way to handle the situation and fighting the urge to employ my Colt 1911 .45 to dispatch the beast (probably bending the rules of our neighborhood association's charter to say the least), it was decided that the shovel should be weapon enough. My neighbor assured me that if I poked the snake it would run away and not come back towards us. As I suspected from countless hours of watching The Crocodile Hunter, this proved to be false. We quickly learned that a Copperhead can strike the length of its body without much effort. Seeing it do this several times in a row in your direction really gives one quite a rush. This was one angry snake. Not wishing to take any chances I employed my shovel.
A Copperhead that large is pretty rare in this area. I am sure he had grown fat feasting on the small birds and animals that infest the wet lands behind my house. Had I met this serpent in the wild I would have most likely tried to move away without disturbing him. However, since he ventured near areas frequented by small children and pets my choices were limited. After this encounter with such a powerful animal I understand better how people get themselves bitten. I was rather amazed by this snakes ability to strike without warning at something that was 180 degrees South of its head.
I did inquire as to why the neighbors came to get me, rather than handle the situation on their own. One of them put it like this, "Well, it was in your yard".