Snakes, Snakes, and More Snakes
Kevin Felts 04.19.17
It was a typical cool spring day here in southeast Texas. The large ALICE pack was sitting by the front door ready to go. The firearm that had been picked out was a Mossberg 500 with a 20 inch barrel and pistol grip.
Boat fuel tanks had been filled the night before, and the battery for the trolling motor had been charged. This was a narrow 14 foot aluminum boat that had a 25 horsepower Johnson and a trolling motor.
My buddies and I were launching the boat on Cow Bayou in Bridge City Texas, then heading to a remote part of the bayou. This was a trip we had made several times over the past few months. We had a remote area in mind where we wanted to go camping.
Everyone met at my house, the boat was hooked to the truck, and away we went. Around an hour or so later we were easing through a narrow channel looking for a new camping site. We spotted a wooded area that looked good, so we pulled up to the bank and got out.
Camp Site 1
This was a nice looking area with oak and sweet gum trees. We had a tent and a couple of hammocks, so we were looking for flat ground and large trees to hang the hammocks.
I was looking around and talking to my buddies when I saw something move next to my right foot. From previous experience, I knew it was probably a cottonmouth, so I jumped away from the snake. Looking down as I jumped, I saw the snake strike in the exact spot where I was standing a split second earlier.
One buddy was standing next to me and saw the event unfold. The other buddy was a few feet ahead and saw another snake. Here we were, no more than 20 feet from the boat and have already seen two water moccasins.
These were not your typical lumbering summer snakes, they were hungry and aggressive springtime snakes. The cottonmouth mates in the spring.
We all agreed to pick out another spot. The site was not that great anyway, the snakes can have it.
As we pulled away from the bank, we waved good-bye to the snakes and wished them well.
The Johnson boat motor was doing an excellent job of idling through the narrow channel. We were all looking around worried that a cottonmouth had slithered into the boat while we were ashore.
Camp Site 2
A few minutes later we spotted another area that looked interesting. Same as before, we pulled up to the bank, tied off to a tree, then started looking around. Things were looking good until we spotted the large tail of a water moccasin slithering into an armadillo hole.
It was one of those “really?” moments. We had just left one spot with two snakes and we run into another one. This one, however, decided it would be wise to leave us alone, and we left it alone.
Everyone agreed the site looked good, except for the snake. The ALICE packs were retrieved and camp was setup around 100 feet from the boat.
Lunch was ramen noodles cooked over a single burner propane stove. Two of us had stoves, the other guy had to wait until one of us were finished so he could borrow it. The guy who had the other propane stove also had a small propane lantern. It may have been a single mantle lantern, but it was more than bright enough to light up the whole camp.
A short distance from the camp site were some frogs. We figured there was a slough nearby, so we decided to ease over to see if we could spot a snake. Sure enough, on the bank was a snake coiled up ready for its lunch to go hopping by.
Nobody wanted to sleep in the hammocks, so the three of us crowded into a four man tent with our packs.
Something I worry about is a snake slithering into my pack during the night. Because of this, the pack is kept in the tent or hung from the side of a tree with a piece of rope.
Breakfast the next morning was pop-tarts. The only time I can eat pop-tarts is while on a camping trip. Besides that, I never touch the things.
There is a certain amount of sadness that goes with breaking camp. Chances are my buddies and I will never camp there again. Leaving the camp site is like saying good-bye to a new friend. With the boat loaded we started our return to civilization.
As if in a parting good-bye, we saw a large cottonmouth on top of a tree stump that was sticking out of the water.