rattlers... what to do?


Active Member
I spent 13 years of my life in Texas, and I have seen more rattlers in five trips to Eastern WA and Eastern OR than I saw the whole time in Texas. They're out there, for sure.

As others have said, the snake you can see is not a threat; it's the one you step on that gives you trouble. ALWAYS look in front of your feet when walking the banks of rivers East of the Cascades, especially Rocky Ford. I've been there twice and seen no less than five rattlers. Perhaps the most disturbing sight was that of a large bullsnake eating an average-sized rattler, right in the foot path.

Anyway, watch where you're going, and don't make any sudden movements if you come right up on one. They will always back down if given a reasonable chance.
I grew up in central Texas and lived there till I was 28. I'm 57 now. I have a fair amount of experience with them. They aren't gonna chase you; they're not like a mamba or a cobra. Rattlers will do one of two things if they perceive you and think you are a danger to them: try to crawl away from you. Or curl up in a coil, which is a defensive position for them to strike from.

If you come across one, just walk around them, giving them several feet of room. Or use a long stick to move them off the trail. They can only strike half their length. Their strike is lightning fast, but when they are stretched out and crawling, they are fairly slow moving creatures. A human being moving at a fast walk is faster than a rattler crawling at full speed. Rattlers are not like prairie racers.

It is very dangerous to try and shoot them with a pistol. You are far more likely to have a bullet ricochet off a rock or hard ground and hit yourself or someone else than you are to hit the snake. I'm not kidding -- people in the rattler-infested states get hurt or killed every year this way. If you have a shotgun loaded with pheasant or quail loads, well, that of course works great. Stand 20 feet away and shoot the snake. But the easiest and safest way to kill a rattler is with 2 garden hoes or 2 long-handled shovels. Pin the rattler to ground (right behind his head) with the first hoe or shovel, and then cut off his head with the second one. It is very easy to do. Don't pick up the head. Dig a hole and bury it.

Obviously you aren't gonna be carrying garden tools when you're out hunting or fishing. So if you must kill a rattler, use the other easy and safe method: take a few good sized rocks (rocks the size of a football or large loaf of bread are perfect) and drop them on the rattler's head and body. Then leave him for the coyotes, hawks, and ants.

Rob Allen

Active Member
I'm disappointed, I have lived in Montana for almost 6 years now and have yet to see a live one.

Of all the times I have fished over on the dry side when I lived in Washington, I never saw them there either. I must be lucky.
Go hike down into the Bear Trap canyon on the Madison in June finding a rattler shouldn't take too awfully long
P.S. Some people think humans shouldn't kill rattlers. I respect their opinion and would never denigrate them for it. However, being a native born Texan (and I'm also a pheasant & quail hunter who knows how many hunting dogs get bit), you can probably guess how I feel about rattlers. ;)


Not to be confused with Freestone
The only scare I had was at Dry Falls when one slithered out from the cattails and swam right into my pontoon. It stopped and started raising up as though it might try and crawl up an over. I was still half stuck in the mud and suffice to say big pucker factor ensued. I started to reach for my net to use as something of a defense -- it turned and swam back from where it came.

Now I use my rod to poke around the reeds in those tight put-ins :eek:

John Bisset

retired to fish
I grew up with rattlers. Carry a stick, not to hit the snake but to whack the grass and weeds ahead of you. They will get the heck out of the way. Watch out if you have a dog, he might not be as noisy as you.

Funny, the only rattlers I've seen at Rocky Ford were rubber ones put out along the trail by my fishing buddy. But then I've never fished there after April. They start coming out when the weather warms up.

Go Fish

Language, its a virus
When hiking to the waters edge
don't be the third person.

First guy wakes him up,
Second guy pisses him off,
Third guy gets bit.

Geez....I think I'm done fishing in eastern Washington now. Staying on the west side.
Good idea, they're EVERYWHERE over here!

I actually almost picked one up once last year. I had a 11 or 12" stick in my hand and tried lifting him up. Was going to pick him up, be he got scared and slithered off. I have a good video of it, and some others. Oh, and of some fish too. Still can't figure out how to upload the stupid thing. Wait, I'm to stupid to figure out how to upload it. No, it's the camera. I'm sure of it.

They won't bother you, as others have already stated. Unless you step on them, and even then they won't bite...most of the time. I've stepped on 6, and have only been struck twice. Stuck, not bit. They make the coolest sound! I absolutely love rattlesnakes.
Spent many years fishing-often at night at Dry Falls and Rocky Ford and other Eastern Washington lakes and have run across a fair share of the snakes.

Sidenote: Anyone ever seen the snakes in the water at Rocky Ford? Not rattlers but they will come ashore with small fish in jaws-has anyone seen the suckers species/caught one? Not sure the species-red stripe on lateral during spawning and not sure what keeps them in check-besides large trout eating them (LIGHTBULB!!).
One time there was a ball of spawning suckers on the upper water and I thought it would be cool to see if I could get one to take a san juan worm-the rainbow were not hitting at all.
I tried for a few minutes casting the SJ worm into the ball. When my indicator dove I struck and thought I had a sucker on.
Felt heavy, suddenly the big ball of about 30 suckers part and a really big female trout shows herself with the san juan worm in nose.

She was one of the largest I ever landed there. She must have been dining on sucker roe.

Back to snakes, if you've ever come up the Dry Falls lookout trail at dark then you've probably seen a few snakes and they are often rattlers.
I too have almost stepped on a few rattlers and thought they were bull or gopher snakes until they coiled up and rattled.
Quite unnerving!

I've seen some VERY fat rattler roadkills next to Sprague Lake on the road to Cow as well as Rock.