Diamondback Rattler Strikes Teen

Daryl Kirby | August 17, 1990

Friday, Aug. 16, 1990 began as a normal day for John Rawlins, 17, of McRae.

It was a typical summer day in Telfair County, hot and muggy. John’s father was cutting the grass at a tract of land they own, and John, an avid deer hunter, decided to do a little pre-season scouting. 

John has had plenty of encounters with rattlesnakes while traipsing through the woods and fields near his south Georgia home, and sensing that the snakes would be out, he put on a pair or Rattlers brand snakeproof chaps. His father had given him the chaps for his birthday, but John had rarely worn them because they were hot and noisy. 

Something made John put the chaps on this day.

It was about 3 p.m. when the high-school student stepped over a fence into some waist-high grass and briars.

“I was looking for a snake,” John said. “I was looking, but I still didn’t see anything.”

John took about five steps when he realized he’d made a serious mistake. That fifth step landed right on the mid-section of the biggest diamondback rattlesnake John had ever seen.

The snake, reacting with lightning quick speed, turned and struck John about halfway up his left calf.

“It scared me so bad I fell back into a clump of briars,” said John. 

John almost fainted. He regained his composure only to see the rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike again, a mere 5 feet from where he lay in the briars and tall grass.

John pulled his 9mm pistol and fired seven or eight rounds at the rattler. 

“I was shaking so bad I was missing,” he said.

Luckily, three of the shots found their marks, and John got out of there as fast as he could.

The chaps had stopped the snake’s bite, and John’s quick reactions with his pistol prevented what would have likely been another hit by the snake.

Otherwise, John might not be looking forward to the upcoming deer season as he is today. And you know he’ll be wearing his chaps. 

“Thanks be to God I had on my chaps!” That was the reaction after this huge rattlesnake hit him at mid-calf with a vicious strike.

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