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>Late Fall, Winter is Knocking at the door.

March 19, 2011


As the Fall season gives way to winter, it saddens me to think that the “Bird season” is almost through for another year. I started hunting this past season in early September, finding fair numbers of “Huns” and Sharp tailed grouse. At this time of the year, I only hunt very early in the morning due to the fact that the rattlesnakes are still out and active. Not that I’m afraid of snakes , but my dog is a Lab and she thinks that everything in the world should love her, she has no idea about Badgers , nor rattlesnakes, both being very dangerous.
This past summer I ran into a local rancher who was taking a break during the heat of the day to fly fish a bit and cool off down by the river. He was accompanied by an English setter, and a Britney Spaniel, both who were panting due to the bright sun over head. The rancher asks me if I’d seen any snakes, and I had seen one, but it was a “bull snake” I told him. “Oh,” he said, well, “no rattlers then”? No, I usually do not see rattlesnakes down near the water, especially when there are bull snakes around. I then asked him if he let his dogs just run around, or do they have to stay on ‘heel’? He said he let them run, he said, both had been hit by rattlers in the past, and that the setter nearly died. He told me after that he took both dogs to a clinic they have in Great Falls, to educate dogs about snakes. Here’s what he told me; that they put shock collars on the dogs and turn them up on high, they have de- fanged and de- venemonized rattlesnakes, so when the dogs approach the snakes , and the snake strikes, the dogs are hit hard with the shock collar. The rancher said it really works, and that when a dog (after this clinic) see’s a snake of any kind, they keep their distance.
When my Lab (Pearl) was just a small pup, she went everywhere with me. I’d take her to the office and in the boat when I was fishing, or even while I was guiding. One warm, sunny spring day in May I was floating the stretch just above town, it was the first really warm day of the season. Fishing was great, there were a good number of Baetis, Midges, and the Caddis where just starting. I was alone with Pearl, parked fishing dry flies to rising trout, when out of the corner of my eye; I saw a movement near the back of the boat. When I turned, I saw a large light brown colored head peeking into the back of the boat, with a 3 month old puppy wagging its tail welcoming the visitor. I quickly, but gently, used the rod tip to steer the snake in another direction. The rattler complied, and swam off; thank goodness I saw it before it entered. It was a very large snake, can you imagine, in the drift boat, a 3 month old puppy, me, and a huge rattlesnake, parked in the middle of the Missouri River in May? Think about that for a moment…
I was going to talk about Real estate, but got side tracked, tomorrow is another day…
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