When Would You Kill a Venomous Snake?

Early one chilly fall morning some 16 years ago, on the scout day for a weekend bonus deer archery hunt I had been drawn out on, I was stumbling my way along a game trail in far eastern Oklahoma when I stepped over--literally stepped over, with my family jewels open to immediate and easily-accessible fanged attack--a cold, curled-up timber rattler trying to warm itself up right in the middle of the trail. This brings up an interesting twist on an age-old philosophical question: If a grown man screams like a wee girl in the middle of the forest, and there's no one around to hear him, does he make a sound?

I'll let you be the judge of that, but when I saw this cool video of a large timber rattler swimming across a Kentucky lake, those nightsweats I thought I'd finally gotten over suddenly started up again...

Unlike many others, I am, and have always been fascinated with snakes. I grew up catching and keeping all manner of serpents, even once wanted to be a herpetologist some day, and I'm proud to say I've never needlessly killed a snake. Several years ago I did a blog post about the wanton killing of snakes and the resulting debate in the comments section was lively, entertaining and educational. My thoughts on the subject still haven't changed. I'll kill a venomous snake if I think it poses a threat to my family or dogs, but other than that I leave them alone. But after watching the video, I thought it'd be interesting to revisit the topic.

What would you do if you had seen that timber rattler swimming across the lake? Kill it or leave it be? And as for the timber rattler I encountered that day, after my heart stopped racing and the shrieks stopped reverberating across the valley. I admired his beauty (from a distance) and then walked on, but with my eyes firmly glued to the ground in front of me. I never did shoot a deer on that hunt...