After reading the thread on the fella in the park, I reflected back upon my worst snake encounter in the badlands. So I figured I would share it with my online friends.
I grew up in New Town and that is kind of on the fringe of rattler country, nonetheless, snakes are and should always be a concern when in the Badlands or even the fringe areas during the witching months of May through late Sept. Don't let them keep you from enjoying the place, but you have to be realistic in how crappy it could be to get bitten far and away from help.
Long, but a funny story from a few years back. I was bowhunting by myself south of Medora several miles in the rough stuff. Spotted a pretty nice buck and some does as they bedded down on the side of butte about 1.5 - 2 miles away. Odd thing was they bedded down with the wind in their face and the top of the butte at their back, so I was pretty sure I could sneak around and come up over the top of the butte and get a good shot at him.
So about an hour and a half later, I find myself working along the rim of the butte and I could see the top of the tree that marked their location. Slowly I snuck towards them, thinking I was already within range if they popped up as I stepped over the rim. Only about an 18 inch ledge, so I had slowly stepped just one foot over when I felt unbelievable pain in my right calf. Still moving slowly I had a brief WTF moment as I peered over the edge and saw a rattle, an unmistakeable rattlesnake rattle protruding out from underneath my boot.
My heart literally stopped beating as I could clearly see my pickup parked 2 miles away on the top of another butte, remember it took me well over an hour to get to this point. The pain just wouldn't stop and it was obvious to me (in this span of 0.0003 seconds) that I was in trouble. My truck is a damn long ways away, and because I have stepped on this rattler, he has not yet let go of my leg!!! So I am now thinking I am going to have to reach around and grab this SOB to get him off of my leg. Not liking the prospect of also getting bit in the hand, I started to slowly pivot my leg so I could see and grab him.
As my leg came back into view, lo and behold that "rattler" on the back of my leg was nothing but a rather large prickly pear cactus buried to the hilt. Yet another WTF moment, I looked again and yep that is still an unmistakeable rattlesnake rattle protruding out from under my damn boot, but I can't see the frigging snake. Slowly I retrieved my leg from over the bank and once my boot was no longer in the way I took another look. I had stepped on a perfectly coiled up skeleton of a rattlesnake. Maybe only a 2-2.5 ft one, but a skeleton nonetheless.
It wasn't until after I unsunk the damn cactus from my calf that I even thought about that nice buck. Despite me thinking I had remained perfectly quiet the whole time, the deer were long gone. Not even sure they were there during my snake experience as muleys often move often in the heat of early Sept, but never did see that buck again.
After that little experience and the very definite feeling of dread having thought I had been bitten, I now own a pair of snake gators. Don't wear them often, but if it's early Sept and I am hunting alone and a long ways from civilization, you damn right I do. It was a very bad feeling thinking I had been bit, even if it is by the wuss of the rattlesnake family.
In hindsight, I wish I would have brought home the snake skeleton. It was perfectly intact and I don't think I even crushed it as I never put much weight on it. Oh well, I wasn't in a particularly adventurous mood after that little hike.