Alabama turkey hunter Chad Cross faced a terrifying situation last Sunday when a trek through the woods brought him facing a six-foot timber rattlesnake, one of the most dangerous and venomous snakes in North America. While experts attribute relatively mild behavior to the timber rattlesnake, it more than makes up for this with its large size, deep-biting fangs and lethal venom. The species is common throughout the eastern half of the United States and it is heavily advisable to give the animal a wide berth when discovered. Unfortunately, the snake can be easy to overlook except when it rattles.
According to WSFA, the snake struck Cross in the lower leg and bit straight through his hunting boot. The hunter described the pain as being comparable to being hit with a baseball bat.
“I was so nervous and scared. I knew I had to calm down and get my heart rate down because the faster my heart was pumping, the faster my heart was pumping I knew the faster that venom was going through my system,” Cross said.
Wildlife officials urge those bitten by a rattlesnake to seek medical attention at least within one hour of the bite. Far away from transport, Cross had to act quickly. He pulled out his emergency bite and sting kit, a $10 purchase at a local outdoor store.
“I had to read the directions first because I never opened it up. I’ve carried it with me in my turkey hunting equipment for years. The process takes a total of 15 minutes and then it says to get somewhere with anti-venom,” Cross said. Inside the kit was a device resembling a syringe-shaped suction tube, which is meant to isolate the venom if used quickly. Cross placed it over the bite and pushed down on the device, trapping a portion of skin and the venom inside.
It saved his life. At a nearby hospital a doctor told Cross that a full dose of venom could have killed him before he even reached his truck, much less drive to the facility and receive treatment. The hunter stayed in the hospital for two days and was treated for the bite. No permanent damage seems to have been received and Cross is already back on his feet. He looks forward to the rest of turkey season and hopes to bag a few birds before it ends. Cross also advises hunters to buy a bite kit, which in hindsight he felt was a very valuable purchase.
Visit here for more information on how to treat a timber rattlesnake bite.