A story published in the Prospect-News recounts the adventures of brave Leroy Reddin, who killed a 63 inch timber rattlesnake during a hunting trip March 31. According to the P-N, the snake measured 10 inches in circumference and had 12 rattles and a button.
Reddin told the P-N: “We were sitting on the ground watching as a turkey was coming near us. About 45 minutes later, the turkey turned to go the other direction so I decided to relocate in hopes of luring the turkey back to us. I put my hand in the leaves beside me to push myself up and ended up putting it right on the snake’s back. It coiled up real fast, about 16 inches from my face but didn’t strike. If it would’ve been a hotter morning, I believe that snake would’ve bit me.”
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, timber rattlesnakes are Missouri’s largest venomous snake, growing between 3 and 5 feet in length. A rattlesnake is born with one rattle segment on its tail, and grows a new one each time it sheds its skin. This means Reddin’s snake was about 13 years old.
Impressive, because as the MDC points out, rattlesnakes aren’t as widespread in Missouri as they once were, partly because of habitat destruction but also because of “persecution.” In fact, they have been “eliminated” from several counties in the state.
As I was not there, I do not know how much of an immediate threat the snake posed to Reddin, so I cannot say whether or not he was truly justified in killing it. I do know that in my 28 years on this planet, I have never seen a rattlesnake in the wild.