“Things to Do” Catch Snakes?

(ThatGirlWithThe.com tells a tale of rep…tiles! Scared of snakes? Read with caution. Here’s a story about a Greenwood girl that’s a snake lover and catcher. Are you?)

Amanda Gold, her mother, and her fellow volunteers are getting a taste of an Oklahoma summer as they wrap up their training week in the middle of July. The recent Greenwood High School graduate is far from home as she volunteers at Camp Claphans at the JD McCarty Center in Norman, Oklahoma. Their sunburnt faces glisten with sweat from spending the day outside; they were looking forward to heading home for the day. Amanda and her new colleagues pile into her mother’s van and head up the gravel road, and spend the time rehashing the day. Without warning, Mrs. Gold slams on the breaks and her eyes meet with Amanda’s. The three counselors in the back have no idea why the van has stopped, and are alarmed when they find out why: Amanda and her mother have spotted a large Bull snake in the gravel road. They stare in disbelief as the two leap from the van.

In her haste to capture the snake, Amanda leaves the van without grabbing her snake stick, which is used to safely wrangle snakes. The long metal rod allows her to reach from a safe distance while the hook helps subdue the snake by trapping the head. There is no time to go back- she refuses to miss out on this opportunity. The snake is aware that they are approaching and hurries its pace. Amanda’s heartbeat quickens as she moves closer and is amazed by its beauty. Brick- colored spots outlined in black run in a pattern along the snake’s body from head to toe, as pale beige peeks out between the spots. Her hands circle the body and it slithers through her fingertips. Her mother tries her hand at the snake and it darts away, determined to outsmart them. Amanda grunts as she makes a desperate lunge for the tail, and gets a good grip. She is surprised at its strength as she struggles to hold on. Her hands are shaking, her body is tensed, but she has caught her first large snake. The easy part is over; now she must safely grab the snake behind the head to prevent it from striking.

Amanda’s arm is outstretched as she engages in a dance with the snake, both twisting and turning in a circle. She mimics its coil as she tries to find the perfect position to grasp the head. Once the snake faces away from her she acts on impulse snatches him by the head. She is left breathless from the struggle. Now that the snake is subdued, she notices that a crowd has gathered. Her mother beams and immediately snaps pictures to show her father, who has shared with her his interest in snakes for most of her life. It’s her first big catch, and it’s a beauty.

It’s only fitting that Amanda would catch her first large snake with her mother; they have spent years hunting reptiles together, and her best memories are of her family hunts. She smiles at the memory of her father pulling their family car over to climb a tree and rescue a snake that tangled itself in the branches. Her mother stood below while he worked to release it, planning to catch the snake on it’s way down. They were greeted with a smelly surprise as the snake became startled and “musked” her as it fell. “Musking” is a snake’s defense mechanism that’s similar to a skunk. While it is unpleasant, it is a favorable alternative to being bitten.

After her courageous feat, Amanda had left quite an impression on her peers, and was sought out when other snakes were found in the area. Camp Claphans hosts a number of children, and she remained on the lookout for everyone’s safety.

She was called to duty one morning while in the activity building with a group of children. Amanda’s camp director rushed in with her snake stick in hand. She sensed trouble as the director led her away from the children to tell her what was going on. Apparently the gardeners spotted a Copperhead, and they needed her help. Amanda’s hand shook as she grasped her snake stick; in order to protect everyone there she would have to kill the snake. In all of her hunts, they have only moved snakes, and this would be her first kill. She dreaded the danger looming ahead, but knew that it had to be done.

She approached the area and began to prepare herself for what was about to happen. The thought of her performing her “snake dance” with a poisonous snake frightened her. She would have to do this regardless of her fears, and she would have to do it without getting hurt.

The snake rested comfortably between two railroad ties, and they shifted one so that she could get a better look. Relief washed over her when she got a good look at the snake’s body. This was not a Copperhead after all- it was a bull shake, a good guy. It was easy to see why they were mistaken; it was a deep red- any untrained eye would consider this a deadly Copperhead. The snake’s head was a vibrant copper top with the same beige base along its body. Black lines crossed its mouth, giving it the look of a skeleton’s skull. Feeling confident now that she was no longer in danger, she hooked the snake with her stick, performed her “snake dance” and grabbed it by the head.

She was so elated to spare the snake’s life, and even happier that she was able to safely hold and take pictures of him. This was an exciting summer away from home for Amanda; she was able to capture and release two beautiful snakes on her own. She could hardly wait to send the pictures home to her family.