Trip Details

Location: Sherburne County, Minnesota

Conditions: 68 degrees, sunny

Time: 8:00 pm until dark

Herpers: Jeff LeClere, Dāv Kaufman, Austin and Jim Scharosch

This is the final real herp trip of the spring for me. I had talked to Jeff LeClere for many years about coming up to Minnesota to herp and this was finally the year to do it. Anyone who reads here regularly knows I have had a full-on life-long jinx with finding hognose snakes. I made a determination at the beginning of this season to end that jinx this spring. Jeff had told me many times that if there was a place that could break my jinx it was Minnesota. But even Jeff knew the jinx was strong and wouldn't quite guarantee a hognose.

Austin and I headed out from Iowa in the afternoon. We discussed how cool it would be to end the season with both an eastern and a western hognose on our list, not really figuring it would happen. After dealing with rush hour traffic around the twin cities we met up with Jeff and Dāv at the campground where we would be spending the first night. We set up camp and still had some daylight left so we went out for a little evening herping. We got to the prairie habitat about 8:00 pm. The weather was nice, it was still in the upper sixties and the sun was shining low on the horizon. The front part of the field was very encouraging, as we found a very fresh hognose shed, then a large bullsnake shed, then another older hognose shed. I was beginning to understand Jeff's and Dāv's earlier statements as to the heavy population densities of hognose in the area. Jeff, Austin and I worked our way toward the back of the field. Austin found a small toad which I chose not to photograph, and a frog which he didn't get a positive ID on before it got into some thick cover. At about 8:30 pm, as we were checking the field on the way back toward the vehicles, Dāv was walking back toward us, whistling a tune. I thought this was suspicious, as I had never heard Dāv whistle before. I mentioned to Jeff that I thought Dāv was whistling the "I found a hognose song", and as soon as I said that I noticed the outline of a snake in his front shirt pocket.

Dāv had found a young Western Hognose (Hererodon nasicus).

It was a male, about fourteen inches long. It was very cool, and posed pretty nicely for pictures.

I have always said that I would consider my hognose curse over if I was a member of a group that found one. I still felt that way, but the ending of the curse was somewhat anti-climactic at that point. Not being around when the snake was found kinda put a damper on my enthusiasm some, but I was still happy to see it. I was glad the curse was over, but still hoped I would find one of my own, or at least be close at hand when one was found to really make it stick.

We walked around some more and scoured the roadside ditches. Jeff found a gray tree frog about the size of a dime, but I knew it was too dark for me to take decent pictures of something that tiny.

That was the end of the herping for the evening. We went to our campsite and drank a few beers and shared herping stories by the fire.

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