I know it’s been awhile since my last post but I had an experience today that I absolutely had to share. I went to my parent’s house today about noon to get together some of my old blacksmithing items. One of my goals this summer is to re-setup my forge and start making things by the fall. I had previously had everything set up at my parents in a temporary building made of cordwood. The building eventually came down as the walls were built with firewood that needed to be used. I had left the forge itself, an old vise, and a vent hood laying there and they had scarcely been moved over the past year.
When I got there today and backed the truck, the first item on the agenda was the forge table. Their house sits in the middle of the woods and is nothing surprising to see any sort of animal running around so I kicked it a little to knock it loose from the ground. Almost immediately a swarm of wasps came out of the blower tube. I ran back before they could see who had disturbed their dwelling so I was able to evade being stung. I did count 14 wasps from my safe vantage point though which would be more than enough to lay me out.
I gave up on that for a minute and decided to sift through the pile of tin and lumber which had previously made my roof. I hadn’t more than moved one 2×4 than I noticed something moving around on top. A closer look showed it to be scorpions! Seven of them to be exact. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen any one the plateau but to see this many at once was pretty wild. I attempted to capture a few but only managed to get one in an old Gatorade bottle.
After being reasonably sure I wasn’t going to get stung by an errant scorpion I proceeded to continue moving the tin. As soon as I moved another piece I heard something moving underneath. I cautiously flipped the piece of tin over with a long steel rod I had found and there in a coil set a copperhead starring back at me. This is a pretty common occurence here on the plateau so I wasn’t too surprised. You never just flip something over around here with your bare hands if you want to stay healthy. Normally seeing a copperhead in the woods is no big deal and we would have just taken a picture or two and let the snake go on its way. This time however he was very close to the house and I have a two and a three year old nephew that love to go outside. No way was I going to let a venomous snake live so close to their swing set. I decided to try and catch him in a bucket but he would have none of that. With every poke of the stick he would strike and move closer to the house. I finally decided at that was enough fooling around with something potentially deadly (my parents weren’t home and I was by myself) so I as much as i hated to do it, I knew he had to be disposed of. I went to the house and got the shotgun but I couldn’t find any shells. The next closest thing was my old pellet rifle, a Daisy Powerline 880, that I had had since junior high. It had served me well before against coke cans and GI Joes and I had little choice now. I made sure it was loaded full of bb’s and that the seals were still good on the pump and headed back toward the snake. When I got there he hadn’t moved so I prepared to take aim and quickly dispatch him. As I sighted down the barrel I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. Reluctantly I took my eyes off the reptile and looked in the direction of the movement. I saw there slithering through the leaves another copperhead that was twice the size of the first. His body was a least three inches in diameter which would put him in the three to three and a half foot range. That’s a huge copperhead for those of you that aren’t familiar with them. Not sure of what to to do I decided to take care of the smaller one first since it was between me and the big guy and in a very irate mood. Two shots put a quick end to him as mercifully as possible. (Like I said I would never normally kill one and I hated to do it but my nephews’ safety comes first) Once I was sure he was dead I grabbed the steel rod and proceeded to dig through the leaves to find the other one.
I made about two swipes through the leaves when I heard a buzzing sound coming from underneath I moved the bar just in time to see a dozen yellow jackets rise from a hole beneath the rotten foliage. Seriously?!? I’ve been stung by these guys before so I knew to steer clear before they found their way up my pants leg. I backed up and let them buzz about for a bit in hopes that they might calm down some. I counted at least twenty before they started to settle some. I’ve never seen so many potentially harmful creatures in one spot before in my life!
I hadn’t forgotten about the other monster of a snake so I moved to the far side of the wood pile to probe around with the steel rod again. This time I got about four swipes in before I heard another buzzing sound. Great. What now. This time half a dozen bees came out of their hidden den. Once again Seriously?!? This piece of ground was just not meant to be disturbed. After a closer look they looked to be just carpenter bees so I was too threatened. I probed around a little more for the big snake but by this time he had turned and headed to the sanctuary of the deep woods. He’s still out there right now hopefully too traumatized to come back to his nest.
At this point I gave up on the blacksmith stuff and decided to head home. I took my captured scorpion and my vanquished pit viper back up the mountain to show Hannah. (It’s cool to have a wife who wants to see snakes and scorpions). Interesting day to say the least. And I still have to go back to try and reclaim by forge. Who knows what will be waiting next. This is just a friendly reminder that there are still a few wild things out there. Respect their space and keep your eyes open and you should be fine. Just remember you never know what could be lurking under that pile down here in the south.