50 Rattlesnakes Discovered In Upson County Hunt Camp
Tommy Lathem said he's hoping it's a very long time before he ever sees another rattler is his hunt camp.
GON subscriber Tommy Lathem recently did a little more cleaning up at the hunting camp than he had anticipated after he took a shovel and a shotgun and killed 50 rattlesnakes within just 10 feet of his clubhouse.
Tommy, of Jasper, was not the first to arrive on Saturday, Aug. 31 at his 1,200-acre Upson County hunting camp situated on the banks of the Flint River outside of Thomaston. Others had already arrived to begin cleaning up in preparation for deer season.
“I asked one of the guys on my way down there that if he had a chance he could start moving a lumber pile, and we’d cut it up for firewood. Just as soon as I pulled up in camp, he came around the corner white as a sheet,” Tommy said in his GON Outdoors podcast interview. “I said, ‘What is it?’ He said, ‘Snakes in the wood pile. I bet there’s 50.’ I said there’s no way there’s 50 snakes in that woodpile.”
Tommy grabbed a 20 gauge shotgun and began to investigate. They moved one board and immediately saw a wad of five or six, 10- to 12-inch rattlesnakes, which he shot.
“Every time you would move a board, there would be a baby snake or two,” said Tommy.
Board by board, they began to take down the wood pile, which sat on top of a pallet and was only about 2 feet high. Tommy kept his shotgun handy but was able to kill most of the young snakes with a shovel.
“We just kept finding them,” said Tommy. “They didn’t really scatter, every once in a while one of them would try to get away. I had a feeling there had to be a big snake in there somewhere.
“It was 15 minutes before I heard one rattle. The big ones were in that pallet on the ground, and the little ones were intertwined in the wood.
“We got most of the wood off, and one of the big ones stuck its head out. I shot its head off. A few minutes later here came another one out. It ended up being three adults.”
The entire ordeal lasted about a half hour.
“When it was all said and done, we put them on that board, and there were three adults and 40 babies, but I shot a couple groups of the babies that just blew them away. I’d say there was probably 50,” said Tommy.
This wasn’t Tommy’s first rodeo with a rattler in camp.
“A few years ago, we were sitting around grilling, and a guy went to the bathroom,” said Tommy. “He came back out, and he said, ‘Nobody move. Nobody move.’ There was one within 5 feet of guy with his back to it sitting in a chair. It was coiled up, and I took this same gun and killed it.”
A few weeks ago while bush hogging, Tommy said he killed a 6-foot rattlesnake with 14 or 15 rattles. Members of his club kill a few timber rattlesnakes every summer but nothing like what they experienced on Aug. 31. Tommy said he’s thankful that he was down that weekend and was able to take care of a possible dangerous situation in the future.
“If we hadn’t seen them, there would have been 50 rattlesnakes around our camp. I am relieved, but a lot of my members are scared. I told them we’ve killed all the snakes,” said Tommy.
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