Trip Details

Start Time: 2:45 p.m.

Weather: Overcast. Low wind. High of about 65 degrees.

Location: Linn County, Iowa.

Herper: Matt Ricklefs

Quote for the day: “Down In A Hole.”

Recently I had a change in my work schedule, which allowed me more time during the day to get out. With what appears to be an early spring here, this will work out OK. Jim had received some information on some quarries from a friend of ours and later in the day we planned to check them out. Meanwhile, while I was waiting for Jim to get off work and for his son, Austin to get home from school, I ventured out.

It had just drizzled before going out. Not too bad, but enough to make things a little wet. It was still warm enough and there was not a lot of wind so the conditions were still OK.

When I got to the site, I noticed a large black blob where there should not have been one a ways away. I pretty much knew what it was, but got my camcorder out to zoom in anyway. It was a Turkey, a gobbler looking to attract a mate. Sure enough, after spotting the gobbler I noticed a hen crossing back and forth. She did not seem too interested, but my presence might have thrown that off. The gobbler did not seem to be bothered by me, but the hen was definitely spooked. As I was here to find snakes, I started on my way.

To make a long story short, I herped the area all the way to my “good spot”. As I often do, I made the last minute prayer to “just find anything under this last piece of debris”. In this case a large metal door. This door has yielded only once before, and that was back in 2001. To my surprise and delight, there was a Bullsnake (Pituophis c. sayi).

This one was approximately twenty inches in length and in perfect shape. It made no aggressive move, but instead made for what appeared to be an indent under the door. I grabbed it and worked on trying to get a good shot with the camcorder. It still made no aggressive moves and continually tried to move away and hide. When I picked it up, I noticed the indent was actually a hole. After several minutes of wrangling it, I did get a few OK shots. As many people who do this know, wrangling a snake for photographs when you are alone can be tough at times, especially when the critters are being uncooperative. Usually a Bullsnake will hold its ground and make picture taking relatively easy, but not this time. I then let it go back under the door. At first it went to a small indent in the ground and tried to curl up in it. I got it back out so it could go to where it really wanted. As soon as I put it by a small hole, it went right down. Now I know to keep this in mind when turning this door. As I looked up the gobbler was still within sight, but at a safe distance. Maybe he was my good luck charm this day.

That was all. Jim, Austin and I did get out to a few of the quarries later, but only turned up a couple of garter snakes. We did find some good areas, and one in particular may pay off under better weather conditions. We shall see…

Until next time - Happy Herpin’!

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