A couple of weeks ago we killed a baby Copperhead (snake) in our backyard (killed it by accident with a small garden tool, it was hiding in a few dead leaves). Nothing really unusual about that, a baby Copperhead in early Spring is common here (Missouri). However, what I saw yesterday on a fishing outing was a bit out of the ordinary. I went to the Busch Wildlife Conservation around mid-morning. I immediately found a dead Cottonmouth (Water moccasin) near the edge of the water (I was setting up on one of Busch Wildlife’s 33 lakes). It wasn’t a baby, it was actually pretty big. In Missouri it is illegal (protected) to kill a snake. We are to leave them alone, avoid them if possible. Sometimes it isn’t possible………you can kill one for your own self protection. A snake won’t normally bother you if you leave it alone. Most people get bit by stepping on one or reaching into an area a snake is hiding (like reaching for a golf ball; use your club to fetch the ball or let it go).
Back to the Copperheads, after I moved my set up to a different location due to the bad smell of the dead Cottonmouth, I immediately caught a couple of small Bass, which got tossed back to grow……..for another day. Shortly there after, a gentlemen about 30 yards away yelled “There is a Copperhead swimming in your direction.”. I thanked him for the heads-up, the Copperhead was about 3 ft. long. A few moments later I saw another, apparently one had been hiding in some brush near by. THEN ANOTHER! This one came from a different direction along the bank of the lake, but it headed right towards me. It was now sitting under my rod I had just placed a moment before. He, wasn’t moving, and he knew I was there. I tossed a twig at him. He didn’t budge. Then after a few minutes, he decided he wasn’t going to invade my set up (I was afraid he was going to slither into my tackle bag) and he moved into some taller grass towards the water. I hadn’t gone over to zip the bag up, it was too close where the snake was. I counted 6 Copperheads, within about 30 minutes time, ranging from 24 – 36 inches (approx.). I then moved to a more open area along the bank.
I have never seen that many Copperheads in one day, in a single location. They are poisonous, and are very common in Missouri. They are usually seen around rocky areas, creeks, etc. When I was growing up, we lived about 50 yards from a creek. Occasionally a Copperhead would find its way up into our yard. I know in a wildlife area your likely to see more, but, I have fished at Busch Wildlife many times over the last 2 years, and never saw this many snakes along the banks.
I have a feeling there are going to be more emergency room visits this year than in the past. Fatalities from a Copperhead bite are rare, but you can get pretty sick/injured………and they are painful, I’m told (I’ve never been bitten myself). So, be careful where you stick your hands!