Wilkinson County Cottonmouth Bites Angler
There are few things in life more scary than when a venomous snake bites.
For lawman Glynn Christian, it was one of those rare days. There was no worry of working bloody, heart-breaking traffic accidents; no robberies or break-ins; no subconscious fear of some off-the-wall bat brain going bonkers and ruining everybody’s days with a tire tool or a more sophisticated and conventional weapon.
It was a full moon, Indian summer afternoon, and the big bluegill in his father-in law’s pond were bedding and frenzied with hunger and over-protectiveness. Glynn was all set for an evening of kicking back and relaxing, planning on easing the twin problems of the pond’s overpopulation of bream and the effects of a policeman’s stress.
Little did he know that before the day’s fishing was done, it would turn into a nightmare; that the simple task of freeing a snagged hook from a small stump would result in a bite from a disturbed water moccasin; and that he and his kin would be racing against time, involved in a nip-and-tuck battle for his very life.
“I had caught a pile of fish that afternoon,” Glynn recalled of the fateful day in August of 1983. “They were under some willows, and it was kind of tough to get the bait back there. I had thrown over that stump no telling how many times before I finally hung it up.”
But when he did, getting it unhung almost cost Glynn his life. And it was not just from the bite itself. The treatment would prove to be almost as deadly as the venom itself.
“When I reached over to un-snag the hook, I felt something pop me on the back of my left hand. My first thought was that I had hit a wasp nest, because that kind of sting was exactly what it felt like. But as I jerked my hand back, I saw something ease off the stump and slide into the water. I knew at first glance it was a moccasin, and it scared the (never mind) out of me. The two bloody marks on the back of my hand didn’t make me feel any better.”
The pond Glynn was fishing is located just inside the Wilkinson County line and a half-mile or so back in the trees from his in-laws’ home place beside Highway 441. It is roughly 15 miles north of Dublin, where the nearest hospital is located. He was fishing by himself and had no idea whether any of his kinfolk would be at home to help him.
It was a long way to help, and he may have to make the trip by himself; that was the dilemma the snakebit fisherman faced.
“I threw the fly rod down, hauled to the bank and took off to the truck,” said Glynn. “The more I thought about it, the more scared I got. Everybody tells you to stay calm, don’t panic and take it slow. But those people have never been bit by a poisonous snake. I figured the best thing I could do was to put a tourniquet of some sort on my arm to slow the venom, then get the heck out of there and go get help.
“My hand and arm were already starting to swell only a couple of minutes after the bite. The one thought that kept going through my mind was ‘Why me?’ On the way out, I had to go through a gate and lock it back, but from there, I really took off. Luckily, my father-in-law was at home.”
The pair piled into the elder man’s car and drove to Dublin at what may best be described as an extremely rapid clip, with not one of the engine’s horses taking a breather until they wheeled into the hospital’s emergency room parking lot.
“You wouldn’t believe the sickness or the fear I went through on that trip,” said Glynn. “When we got to Highway 338 (about halfway), I was really out of it. I was hurting like the devil, too, with my hand and arm swelling bigger and bigger.”
But, with the arrival at the hospital, proper treatment in the form of horse serum antivenin was at last available. That, too, almost proved deadly.
“They alway give snakebite victims a small shot of the antivenin to see if they’re allergic to it, because that can kill you about as quickly as the venom can,” he said. “I didn’t show a reaction at first, but when they started the IV, I went into shock because I was allergic to it. They had to slow it down and give it to me a little at a time.”
He’s telling the story, so obviously Glynn Christian survived his brush with fanged death. But it was indeed a close call, as his six-day hospital stay will attest, and he fully realizes he was very lucky.
“I’m not all that scared of snakes now, but I do have a very healthy respect for them. I’ll fish close to a moccasin if there’s fish nearby, but I’ll keep a mighty close eye on him while I do.”