Dangerous snake defense

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by Tarwathie, Apr 2, 2019.

  1. Scott CWO

    Scott CWO AH Enthusiast

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    A Zim PH and his Tracker told me that a Mamba rose up just in front of the Tracker while they were tracking buffalo one day. The PH quickly raised his .458 Lott and shot the snake off-hand with open sights at about 5 yards. Perfect shot. The Tracker was very grateful.

    If you have been to Africa, you have likely seen all the little gecko lizards around most camps. The wife of the Camp Manager in Coutada 9 in Mozambique told me she was lying on the bed in their house one day reading a book when suddenly a little gecko lizard, followed by a Mozambican Spitting Cobra, jumped off one of the ceiling beams in the house and landed on her chest and lap! Luckily, the lizard, with the snake in hot pursuit, scurried off the bed immediately before anything bad happened. Another time, she found one in the dish drying rack next to the kitchen sink. She had her husband install chicken wiring underneath all the ceilings in all the huts and houses. Not long thereafter, they moved back to South Africa. Lol.

    While I was hunting in the Niassa Reserve in extreme Northern Mozambique, I was standing in the back of the Cruiser with two trackers. I was on the right side of the bench seat behind the cab. We were driving off the road through scattered trees and at times, the Trackers and I were ducking under oncoming branches. I was ducking under just such a branch when suddenly, the two Trackers standing to my left leaned away from me and yelled, "Cobra, Cobra Cobra!" The PH heard the yelling and thought we must have seen a game animal so he immediately stopped the Cruiser while I was still ducking under the branch. I hadn't seen the snake on the branch yet and I froze and yelled at the PH, "Snake! go, go go!" Luckily, he let out the clutch and quickly drove away and the snake did not bite me in the head, neck or shoulders. Once we drove a few meters away, he stopped the Cruiser and we looked back to the branch and saw a Boomslang snake with it's mouth wide-open and very angry. That was a close one! Boomslang venom is deadly and I was told the nearest anti-venom was in South Africa. The venom causes severe hemorrhaging and death about 20 hours later when unsuspecting people think they are in the clear. It's not a fast-acting venom like the Mamba's but deadly, nonetheless. I had a few stiff G&Ts that night back at camp!
     
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  2. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    I grew up in Texas and spent lots of hours outdoors. Saw and killed many copperheads, cotton mouths and rattlesnakes. Caught a number of rattlers for a couple of the crazy rattlesnake round ups. I’ve seen rattlers hunting or fishing in Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas and Texas. They serve a good balance in nature, but I still reduce their number when the opportunity arises. I don’t want one around my GSP while bird hunting. I don’t think I have hurt their population any.
    My choice has been a 22LR CCI shot out of a little S&W revolver. It worked better than the 38 CCI shot from a Jframe.
    Still I’ve had guilt feelings a time or two when I didn’t really “need” to kill one. Rattlers do make interesting hat bands.
     

  3. Von S.

    Von S. AH Fanatic

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    Personally...

    I normally hike my skirt up, drop water,and run around in ever narrowing circles while having an attack of the vapors.

    Eventually I either faint or run headlong into a tree which normally knocks me out cold.

    ....and that's just for a Garder Snake.
     

  4. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Fortunately the Boomslang is a rear fang snake, so though their venom is pretty deadly, actually getting bit by one takes a bit of doing. One reason there is so little anti-venom produced for it. Though I would just as soon not provide him my nose as a target!
     
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  5. mark-hunter

    mark-hunter AH Fanatic

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    Are there any venomous snakes present in southern African countries, dangerous to men, but also protected by law?
     

  6. Tarwathie

    Tarwathie AH Senior Member

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    I forget who the story referred to, it may have been Ionides, but I recall a story about a white naturalist in east Africa trying to catch a snake up in a tree. I think it was sometime in the mid 20th century. While focused on trying to catch another snake, he was bitten by a boomslang. He didn't consider the boomslang dangerous and let it keep biting his leg while he was preoccupied with the other snake. He had previously wondered why black Africans were so afraid of them. The boomslang eventually got the rear fangs in and the guy later had a very bad reaction, but survived, it was believed, because he built up a tolerance after having been bitten numerous times by various venomous snakes. This incident apparently helped document for science that boomslangs are in fact venomous.

    The story may be wrong in details from my recollection or in my friend's telling of it, and sadly I can't confirm with him because he died way too young. It seems believable but I'd love to hear confirmation or correction if anyone knows more about it.
     
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  7. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Actual incident is a bit different and the outcome not so good. Up until the mid-fifties no one was even sure if the boomslang was venomous or particularly dangerous - recorded bites were non-existent.

    The following describes the actual incident to which I suspect you are referring.

    "Because they’re so anatomically unsuited to biting people, boomslangs were assumed to be harmless up until the late 1950s. A fantastic article by Paul Donovan for Reptiles Magazine describes how on the 26th of September 1957, eminent herpetologist, Karl P. Schmidt from Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo, died from a boomslang bite. It was the first such recorded death, and it left his peers shocked. Schmidt had received a bite from a single fang in his thumb as he opened a sack containing a young boomslang that had spent its life in captivity, and he thought nothing of it. Not only did the scientific community think this species posed no threat - very few rear-fanged snakes in the family Colubridae are dangerous to humans - but the way its venom works means that the symptoms don’t kick in until several hours after the bite. Schmidt recorded every symptom as it arrived. Around 24 hours after his bite, Schmidt was found dead in his home from respiratory arrest and severe brain haemorrhaging."

    Schmidt, being the good scientist that he was, kept notes as he became aware of the nature of the bite and progressed through the symptoms.

    Interestingly, the snake was sent to him by a young naturalist by the name of Marlin Perkins. Perkins was unsure of its identification and sent it to Schmidt. It is said that Perkins struggled with having made that decision the rest of his life.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2019
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  8. Tarwathie

    Tarwathie AH Senior Member

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    Fascinating, thank you. The story I recalled probably was incorrectly mixed up with one of Ionides' crazy escapades, without the tragic ending.
     
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  9. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Tarwathie, I believe I recall reading the same story about Ionides. He was the best known during his day for zoos to get snakes from. He believed he was pretty immune to snake venom because he had been bitten so many times. I’ll have to see if I still have the book I read his adventures in. He was quite a character as were most during his period.
     
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  10. Tarwathie

    Tarwathie AH Senior Member

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    Ok, thanks. He was a really interesting character. I've only read a chapter on him by Capstick.
     
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  11. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    “White Hunter” I believe was the book. It was the history of Africa hunters through 1970s. Excellent book and audio CD which I use to listen to on 1000 mile drives to visit my family.
     
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  12. jeanes

    jeanes AH Veteran

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    Has anyone tried a Bond derringer with .38 shot shell or possibly .410 bird shot? Probably not in Africa, though.
     

  13. Sika98k

    Sika98k AH Veteran

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    Some ammunition manufacturer now has the marketing and design departments feverishly working on new packaging for “The Mamba Load” or suchlike after reading this thread.
    Suggestions please ?
     
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  14. Scott CWO

    Scott CWO AH Enthusiast

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    Yes, they have to open their mouth about 180 degrees. The trackers said he was, “Very angry” with his mouth open.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 5, 2019

  15. CBH Australia

    CBH Australia AH Enthusiast

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    Its not uncommon for people to keep a .410 in rural houses in Australia.
    ive booked a trip to Africa in January I wasn't thinking about the snakes,
     

  16. Tarwathie

    Tarwathie AH Senior Member

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    I don't think it's something we need to worry about much as visiting hunters, and I didn't want to imply with this thread that as clients we should be looking for snake defense loads. It's more a matter of wearing appropriate footwear and clothing as recommended by the PH beforehand, and paying attention to our surroundings and where we step.

    I spent 8 months in the Freestate in the 90s, wasn't into hunting then but did a lot of hiking and bird watching - I never saw a single snake of any kind. It may have been youthful dramatic overkill, but I was very deliberate in watching where I placed my hands on low hanging tree branches so as not to accidentally touch a snake that might be in a tree.
     

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