Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fun With Copperheads

'Twas a lovely day for Three Old Farts — Diefenbaker, Robgso, et moi — to venture forth to Hillsborough for a bit of geocaching, chowing on BBQ, and snake hunting. Well, we didn't exactly set out for the latter, but we did chance upon a happy little copperhead lounging on the trail near the Old Oconeechee Speedway. He attracted some crowd of onlookers, but Diefenbaker helped him get across the trail without ill effect to either snake or to hikers.

I've encountered numerous copperheads at close range over the years, and thankfully, much like black widows — our other most common venomous creature around these parts — they generally do their best not to chomp on you. My favorite encounter with a copperhead was about four years ago while caching in a wooded area not too far from home. I was making my way down a rocky hillside toward a creek that flowed into a long culvert, which I had to enter in order to reach the cache. I stepped on a large, loose rock, and what should emerge — or perhaps I should say erupt — but the biggest copperhead I had ever seen, with a body over four feet long and a good two inches in diameter. It shot like lightning into the creek below and vanished from my view.

Realizing the snake could have easily chomped on me had he so desired, I was a little reassured that he was more keen on putting some space between us. The pipe I had to enter lay about twenty feet upstream, and I hoped at this point that my lengthy friend might have proceeded downstream. Undaunted, I made my way into the dark pipe.
Old fellow on guard for No-Shoulders Joe

Nope. Sir Copperhead has gone inside the pipe to mope, and now finds himself incensed that the tall dopey creature, rather than fleeing screaming, is entering his domain. Snake, curled up some ten feet away, takes it upon himself to lunge at me, forcing me to back up a few steps. Fortunately, the creek is full of large rocks, so I heft one of them and chuck it into the water in front of the snake, hoping to deter him. Oh, no, he'll have none of that. In fact, by now, he's kinda mad at me, so he lunges again, this time stopping only a couple of feet short. I grab another rock, shove it at him, and this time, he's splashed up into the air and comes back down in the water six or seven feet away. He coils up to gather his wits, and I take this opportunity to vacate the creek, hoping he hasn't called in his friends as reinforcements. Thankfully, no, so we bid each other cheery farewells, all is forgiven on both ends — well, at least on my end — and I promise not to return until hibernation season.

Just last week, Ms. B. was taking her trash out and nearly trod upon a baby copperhead reclining on her carport. They really do seem to enjoy our company, but I don't recommend petting these nice little guys, however great the temptation.

The rest of today's geocaching expedition was fun enough. We got in several decent little hikes in the woods, found a night cache in broad daylight, and enjoyed some first-rate beef brisket at the Hillsborough BBQ Company. Bumped my total number of finds up to 9,027.

Ta ta.
Another happy little copperhead Ms. B. and I came across on a greenway in Chapel Hill a while back
And then there was this gourmet critter, chowing on a cricket on my front porch last night
Just passing by here today, on our way to a night cache in Hillsborough
A couple of old farts I was caching with today. And you thought snakes were dangerous!
We discovered an overgrown bench in the woods — pretty much not where one would
expect to find a bench in the woods.

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