Three Headshots in Ten Minutes: Tangos Down – TacSol X-Ring w/Magpul X-22

This was the end result of an exceptionally productive morning on my rural farm. The big one stretched out to 37 inches. The bottom is 29.

I have had need of a gun when facing two-legged predators but twice thus far. However, I have had cause to wield a firearm for real numerous times against malevolent animals capable of killing me. This week was one for the books.

I absolutely despise these things. It makes my skin crawl to write about them. This particular moccasin is attacking a GoPro camera fastened onto a stick out in the middle of a lake. Water moccasin and cottonmouth are both appropriate names for these ghastly animals.

In the interest of full transparency, I really hate venomous snakes. There are doubtless those who feel that water moccasins are our pals whose irreplaceable contribution to the great circle of life is what keeps us from being utterly overrun by vermin. Whatever. Something else can eat the mice. It’s not like they’re endangered rhinos or federally protected snail darters. According to the WHO, venomous snakes typically kill between 81,000 and 138,000 people per annum worldwide.

It’s easier to step on these guys while out walking through the woods than you might think.

I live in the Deep South. I stepped on a really big one once while out walking in the woods with my kids. It felt like I had trod upon Arnold Schwarzenegger’s forearm. I had that one ventilated with a .22 pistol at a slant range of three feet before my 7-year-old son walking behind me knew anything was amiss.

This was the sight that greeted me when I snatched my little girl up as she was walking barefoot on the back patio.

We have a lake on the place, and that attracts them like locusts. I killed thirteen moccasins the first year we lived here and nine the next. I snatched my precious daughter up one time when her little bare pink foot was about to come down on one coiled up on the back patio. In my corner of heaven they’re literally everywhere.

Know Your Enemy

The Eastern Coral Snake is a relative to the krait, cobra, and mamba. Thankfully it is a reclusive docile creature.

There are four venomous snakes endemic to the US, only three of which are common. Coral snakes employ a neurotoxin akin to that of a cobra that is unimaginably lethal. However, coral snakes are by their nature docile and also fairly rare. I’ve never seen one in the wild. I’m told they have to gnaw on you a bit to do any real damage. The day I sit still and let a snake gnaw on me will be the day I vote Democrat.

This Western Diamondback Rattlesnake is the very living embodiment of “Don’t screw with me, dude!”

The real players are the pit vipers—copperheads, water moccasins, and rattlesnakes of sundry flavors. These animals employ a hemotoxin that breaks down tissues and disrupts blood clotting.

A proper snakebite can be breathtaking to behold.

Around 25% of poisonous snake bites are dry, meaning they do not involve envenomation. However, bites from pit vipers can produce some truly hideous wounds. I’ve seen a few as a physician, and snakebite is high up on my list of medical things I don’t want.

You think your job sucks? At least you’re not the poisonous snake milker. Imagine going to work and doing that every day.

Antivenin is trade-named CroFab, and it costs $3,198 per dose. CroFab is made by milking poisonous snakes and synthesizing the nasty bits out of the venom. This stuff is injected into sheep, and the subsequent antibodies are harvested, cleaned, and tested. These antibodies are then dehydrated and packaged as a powder.

CroFab works fairly well, but it costs a holy fortune.

CroFab is polyvalent. This means that this one drug treats bites from all three pit vipers. As a result positive identification of the snake in question is not necessary.

This is admittedly an extreme case of a young lady living in a third-world country without proper medical attention. However, left to their own devices snakebites can get plenty nasty.

Treating a snakebite can require a single dose of CroFab or quite a few. An article I read recently concerned a nine-year-old bitten on the big toe by a copperhead while at summer camp in Illinois. She kept the toe. However, her entire hospital stay cost $142,938. A friend bitten in the hand by a water moccasin ultimately shelled out $36,000 for the privilege. Did I mention that I really hate venomous snakes?

The Engagement

Little will cure what ails you faster than a vigorous stroll through a pretty stand of woods. I never strike out without a firearm.

My bride and I walk around my rural farm about five days a week. I invariably carry a gun. This particular day I chose a really nice suppressed .22 rifle from TacSol. I slapped a ten-round magazine in place and called it good.

In my experience water moccasins typically swim with their bodies high in the water and their heads extended. They are fairly easily distinguished from the harmless water snakes that share much of their coloration.

We struck out around the lake and saw a real monster as soon as we got near the water. He was swimming across the lake with his head held unnaturally high. Moccasins do that. He was heading away from me at a slant. If he got to the far bank I’d likely lose him. I’d conservatively estimate his size as breathtakingly gigantic.

A moving cottonmouth doesn’t offer much of a target.

I ran around the lake but could only get within about fifty meters before the brush got thick. I stopped, took a few deep breaths to steady my heart, and drew a bead off-hand. The snake was moving so I had to lead him just a hair.

Water moccasins have a characteristic speckled belly. This 5.5-foot beast is six inches short of the world record for a cottonmouth. Sheesh.

The first round was right off his nose. The second was a bit behind. The third centerpunched the monster’s head. It sounded like I had hit a side of beef with a boat paddle. The massive snake rolled, showing me its cream-colored speckled belly. I jogged over close, found a small hole in the brush, and hit him with a single round of insurance amidships. A stream of bubbles erupted, and he headed down to meet Old Hob.

Trust me, this stuff shoots straight. However, turns out I needed more than ten rounds this particular day.

I caught my breath, suddenly feeling really good about being me. My beautiful bride had that “My hero!” look in her captivating eyes. One less water moccasin meant the world was now a better place. However, I needed some more ammo.

This top notch TacSol rifle fed quality ammo is a snake-slaying machine.

I jogged back to the house and dropped a box of fifty Federal Premium Hunter Match hollowpoints in my pocket. As I headed back to meet my wife I saw number two.

This particular day there was a bit of an infestation.

This one was almost but not quite as big as the first. He was heading across the lake at a leisurely pace. This time I could quietly slip around to roughly where the serpent planned to make landfall. He stopped about twenty-five meters out, curled his head back, and stared at me all hungry-like. I popped him between the eyes with a single round. My security shot pithed his gut, but he still floated.

A water moccasin actually has a fetching hide once it is properly prepared. I soak mine generously in glycerin and alcohol before stretching them on a board.

If the hides aren’t terribly perforated I like skinning these things. The entrails smell like rotten fish, and you want to mind the pokey bits at the front. However, soak the skins in a 50/50 mixture of glycerin and rubbing alcohol and then stretch them out on a board and they’re quite pretty. The last couple of nice ones I had got eaten by something in my workshop. This would make a splendid replacement.

Number three made his debut as I paddled out to fetch number two.

I ran over and mounted the canoe to fetch the demised beast. About halfway there number three broke cover and started trekking left to right. I paddled like a madman on an intercept course. Once within about twenty meters I swapped my paddle for my rifle and judged the geometry of the engagement.

This is the Goalkeeper CIWS (Close-In Weapon System). This automated close-range anti-aircraft/anti-missile system has got nothing on the human brain.

The snake was moving left to right, while the canoe was slowing down of its own accord. I was about to launch a 40-grain bullet at about 1,000 fps from a moving platform at a moving target. Churning through all that math would have been a Gordian chore for a computerized fire control system. However, the system God designed that perches atop my homely shoulders managed it all in an instant. I blew this guy’s head off with a single round. Three up, three down, all in the span of ten minutes.

The Gun

This is a simply magnificent .22 rifle. It costs a holy fortune. However, you get what you pay for. The gun is just stupid quiet, and it shoots like a laser.

A brace of c-notes will land you a fabulous base model Ruger 10/22 from your local Walmart. This gun shoots straight and well. Many’s the burgeoning shooter has cut his or her teeth on such an entry-level smoke pole. However, the suppressed TacSol X-Ring Takedown rifle is the .22 rifle for professionals. 

The oversized charging handle can be arranged on either side.

Everything about this gun is literally perfect. The extended charging handle is reversible. I keep mine on the left so I can run it with my weak hand.

The TacSol X-Ring Takedown rifle breaks down and then snaps together for handy storage or portage.

The Magpul X-22 Backpacker furniture is indestructible and nicely executed. Lock the bolt to the rear, pull forward on a spring-loaded stud, give the barrel a twist, and the gun breaks in half for storage. The front half snaps into the bottom of the stock to make a nice compact package. Assembly takes less time to undertake than to describe.

The extended magazine release is handy and easy to use.
Three standard ten-round rotary magazines ride comfortably inside the Magpul stock.

The 6061-T6 aluminum receiver has a built-in 15-MOA Picatinny rail for optics, and there’s a rear port for cleaning access. The Ruger BX trigger breaks like a prom queen’s heart, while the extended magazine release makes mag changes fast and painless. The all-up weight of this gun is a paltry 3.7 pounds, so it is easy to tote.

The fiber optic front sight mounted to the suppressor is both easily accessed and patented.

My X-Ring Takedown rifle also sports a TacSol TSS integrally-suppressed barrel. This suppressor is the same diameter as a bull barrel, so it fits the Backpacker stock perfectly. It also includes a top-end set of fiber optic sights mounted both front and rear.

TacSol offers a full line of .22 suppressors. The Pac-Lite IV integrally suppressed upper (left) is a drop-in upgrade for the Ruger 22/45 pistol. The Aeris micro rimfire suppressor is proper 007 kit.

The can is aluminum, while the entrails are titanium. It is just stupid quiet. I can shoot this thing all day long without plugs in complete comfort.


A rifle this awesome deserves a nice piece of glass. This Leupold VX-R Patrol 1.25-4x20mm scope drives this remarkable rifle out to its max effective range.

I topped my Rolls Royce rifle off with a Leupold VX-R Patrol 1.25-4x20mm optic. All up this rig is just crazy expensive. However, it carries like it’s not there, shoots like a laser, and lets me leave my muffs at home. I can consistently hit a target the size of my thumb on the move at fifty meters so long as I do my part.

The cottonmouth water moccasin is a simply horrible creature. While I’m a pretty live and let live sort of guy, I don’t care for these things infesting my backyard.

Thanks to my TacSol rig there are currently three fewer deadly creatures wandering around my world waiting to poke me with poison. I’m stoked. That and my wife now thinks I’m kind of awesome.

This DIY Form 1 cut-down side-by-side 12 gauge loaded with Aguila minishells used to be my primary counter-snake weapon. My TacSol X-Ring Takedown rifle has lots more reach.

About the author: Will Dabbs was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, having been immersed in hunting and the outdoors since his earliest recollections. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Mississippi and is the product of a traditional American nuclear family. Where most normal American kids get drunk to celebrate their 21st birthday, Will bought his first two machineguns. Will served eight years as an Army Aviator and accumulated more than 1,100 flight hours piloting CH47D, UH1H, OH58A/C, and AH1S helicopters. He is scuba qualified, has parachuted out of perfectly good airplanes at 3 o’clock in the morning, and has summited Mt. McKinley, Alaska–the highest point in North America–six times (at the controls of a helicopter, which is the only way sensible folk climb mountains). For reasons that seemed sagacious at the time he ultimately left the Army as a Major to pursue medical school. Dr. Dabbs has for the last dozen years owned the Urgent Care Clinic of Oxford, Mississippi. He also serves as the plant physician for the sprawling Winchester ammunition plant in that same delightful little Southern town. Will is a founding partner of Advanced Tactical Ordnance LLC, a licensed 07/02 firearms manufacturer and has written for the gun press for a quarter century. He writes solely to support a shooting habit that is as insensate as it is insatiable. Will has been married to his high school sweetheart for more than thirty years and has taught his Young Married Sunday School class for more than a decade. He and his wife currently have three adult children and a most thoroughly worthless farm dog named Dog.

{ 43 comments… add one }
  • Ned H Palmer July 22, 2021, 10:31 pm

    I too detest cotton mouths, I will go out of my way to kill’em.. Growing up in Florida ,water is every where, we played in lakes , rivers ,springs, and ocean. As a hunter ,I have crossed the snakes hundred of times, nasty critters! Where I live in the country I carry a pistol EVERY TIME I walk out the door; snakes, bears, and two legged varmints, oh my!….Favorite snake guns; S&W .38w/custom snake rounds 7.5 bird shot, Browning A-BOLT .22lr 2×7 Leupold scope w/ fine duplex, good to 75yrds.

  • Austin May 27, 2021, 11:32 pm

    There is always some loser commenting on not shooting snakes, i shoot the piss out of them and actually hunt them at night sometimes u can never kill enough to even phase the population, great article!!

  • Will May 27, 2021, 12:35 pm

    I just want to say this is a great article! In my neck of the woods, (Arizona) we find rattlesnakes curled up on our porches or in bushes in our backyard. I dispatch them with headshots from a simple pump air rifle, at much closer range than what the author can reach out and touch. Guns America frequently has outstanding stories, either historical or practical, that I always seem to learn something new.

  • Chris May 25, 2021, 3:29 pm

    Look I get people do not like snakes and when you add in something like venom the animal all of a sudden becomes something of nightmares, but all that really shows is how ignorant people are. I can assure you the animal is not the monster you are making it out to be in your article. These animals were calling your little paradise home for far much longer than you. Simply pay attention to where you’re walking and your surroundings and you won’t have anything to worry about . Are these animals dangerous sure, but not anymore dangerous then you shooting your .22 pistol haphazardly three feet away from your young child or running around a lake firing a .22LR rifle at the water. in a nutshell this article shows your level ignorance.

  • Jeff Kindrick May 20, 2021, 12:06 am

    In the summer of 1970 I was attending Avionics Class A school at the Naval Air Technical Training Center in Millington, Tennessee, North of Memphis. One of my classmates was married and lived with his wife in a rented house off base. One morning he came to class and related the following story of how his day started. He had just finished breakfast and was sitting at the kitchen table finishing his coffee when he heard a blood curdling scream from his wife who was in the shower. He jumped up and ran towards the bathroom in the back of the house. He entered the living room from the front as his wife entered from the back, naked but for a shower curtain, still screaming and running for all she was worth. About the time she passed him, a cottonmouth slithered into the living room from the back on the same course.

    My classmate hailed from a tough part of Chicago and always kept a 12 Gauge pump with a full magazine, a Stevens if memory serves, in the hall closet. He grabbed the shotgun, racked the slide and intercepted the intruding serpent with a load of #3 buck half way across the living room floor, taking the snake’s head as well as a fair patch of carpeting and flooring into the crawl space.

    Once his wife calmed down a bit, he got the rest of the story. The house they rented was by no means new and likely had hosted its share of sailors attending tech schools on base. At some point, the grate over the shower drain was removed and never replaced; as his wife showered, the snake’s snout suddenly appeared rising out of the drain. She departed the shower without slowing down for the curtain which ripped free of the solidly anchored rod and inadvertently began a new life as a toga.

    My home state of Montana supports only one viper, Prairie Rattlers. We have a lot of extreme weather records, not the least of which is the lowest official recorded ambient temperature in the lower 48, -70 F in 1953 on Rogers Pass about 55 miles from my home. As a result, the resident snakes den up in winter and radiate out from the dens in summer, returning to the same den winter after winter. Thus some areas are well known to have lots of rattlers in the warmer months while other areas several miles away seldom or never have any. I’m 70 and have spent a fair amount of time hiking in the mountains and camping over those years without ever seeing a rattlesnake. I’ve seen a few while driving on back roads and always make a note of not hiking or camping in those areas. With 147,000 square miles and just in the last few years a population over 1 million there is no shortage of wonderful wild country not infested with venomous creepy crawlers.

    • Will May 20, 2021, 2:48 pm

      Holy crap!

  • Tommygun851 May 18, 2021, 11:16 am

    Question? I know that there is an exception to every rule and as the saying goes,
    “Red next yellow will kill a fellow but red next to black is a friend of Jack”. So why in the picture of the eastern corral snake where red is next to yellow, it is a harmless snake?

    • BSLPops May 18, 2021, 7:17 pm

      This is a pic of a Coral snake. The black and red sections are separated by the shorter yellow bands. Therefore, it is “Red next to Yellow”!
      I think the Scarlet King Snake (red next to black) is an example of one snake being mistakenly identified as a Coral Snake.
      Very interesting article and I agree, for the most part, with the author’s sentiment regarding poisonous snakes. If I was fortunate enough to live on property as described and especially with children staying on or frequenting the property, I would also try to “cull” the poisonous snake population. However, I’ve done my best to avoid killing any snake. It depends on the circumstances, as previously stated. I’ve wandered the woods and swamps of SE NC during all 4 annual seasons for most of my 67 years. Seen nearly every kind of indigenous legless serpent. The Eastern Coral Snake is one exception. I currently live on a sandy, long leaf and jack oak ridge. I understand this is one of the Coral Snake’s habitats. But this assumption may be skewed or plain false…read conflicting bits of information regarding their habitat.
      Oh well, one can only hope…to see one from a safe distance, that is!
      Be Blessed to all…

  • Frank May 18, 2021, 11:01 am

    Thanks for another entertaining article, Will. I spent most of my career with Uncle Sam working on various Wildlife Refuges in the Mississippi Delta. The Delta variety of cottonmouths are extremely dark colored… even completely black except for their undersides. This makes them that much harder to see in a low-light, bottomland hardwood forested setting.

    Managing bottomland hardwood forests necessitates monumental yearly efforts at rolling back the work of (extremely) busy beavers. Their dams, with myriad little “waterfalls”, offer excellent ambush sites for your cottonmouth adversaries, and are truly infested with all sizes of the serpents. Standing atop said beaver dams while rigging binary explosive charges, det-cord, and fuse, my partner and I were quite often literally up to our ankles and knees in cottonmouths. When needed, our defensive weapon of choice was the closest sound stick with adequate reach.

    One of my favorite memories from those days is when we had packed all our explosive kit into a dam accessible only by foot, along a narrow, overgrown game trail. We spent close to an hour setting charges, lit the fuse, and started back out on the trail. About 30 or so feet from the fuse we had just lit, we found the trail in front of us literally crawling with cottonmouths! My partner and I shared the same sort of dry humor, and tendency to not get overly concerned with circumstances… so I calmly asked him what he thought we should do. His response came via action rather than words. The stick he snatched up however, was neither very sound, nor very long; still he went to work whopping snakes as if he was competing for a million-dollar, whack-a-mole prize! All the while, I was laughing so hard at the spectacle, that I nearly couldn’t catch my breath.

    We ultimately lived to carry on our tasks of fighting beavers, chasing outlaws, and completing sundry other chores for many more years. My old partner has since passed, and my recollections of our time together are now bittersweet. So long as I can remember however, I’ll always smile at the memory of him blazing a path through those cottonmouths, with a far-too-short stick, while the fuse burned on a dam packed full of explosives… just at our backs.

  • Charlie Erb May 18, 2021, 10:42 am

    I am now more than senior citizen and have shot more than a few snakes! As a kid I packed an 1860 Army cap and ball 44 revolver! Have never killed a Black snake or a King Snake. But we have been hit with a great increase in Lyme Disease. Mice are the carriers of the Lyme Tick that transmits this terrible affliction to us humans. Simple fact: natures balance, mice feed snakes, owls, hawks, foxes, and coyotes! I remember the great Rattlesnake Hunts in Tioga County, PA. Lots of Eastern Timber Rattlers and Eastern Diamondback were captured. My question is: how many Lyme tick carrying mice would have been consumed by all these vipers? Yeah I would not want a Cotton Mouth invading my backyard! I can remember an old guy back in the late 50’s looking at my 1860 Army 44 commenting that a 22 would kill a viper just as well as my 44 would! I told him the black powder confuses the snake and made for a backup shot!!!!

  • Yep yep May 18, 2021, 9:33 am

    It’s messed up y’all moved to their neighborhood and get mad when they show up at your house😂🤣🤣🤣🤣🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️…… wish I could run around shooting everything I thought was a threat!!!

  • AK Folder May 18, 2021, 9:25 am

    I religiously carry a Leinad 45/.410 EVERY DAY in the Spring, Summer & Fall. A 2 3/4 #6 will get the Praire rattlers at 4-7 feet, which is sufficient.

    Like the author, I have used almost everything imaginable to kill the little buggars, once absolutely destroying a perfectly good grease gun (not the .45, WW2 era one…) in my quest to thin the numbers. Shovels work well, just remember to dial back the “stun” hit, as breaking the handle leaves you a bit defenseless!!!

    I haven’t had the chance to get one with my suppressed Walther, yet, but it is warming up, so my chance will come.

    My best (worst??) year was over 20 from 3 1/2 sections of my ranch…

  • H. Spires May 18, 2021, 3:04 am

    I despise all snakes but I don’t go looking for them to rid the world of their species. King snakes will get a pass every time I see one of them. They are hunters of rattlesnakes and will kill them. I’ve had several close calls with poisonous snakes. While working in a tobacco patch one summer I cropped a stalk of tobacco with a big one under the leaves of it close to the dirt. I had already cropped a couple of leaves off of it and reached around to the other side of it to get one more leaf and I saw the rattles sticking out from under it. I jumped about ten feet.

  • Paul Fischer May 17, 2021, 10:51 pm

    We love you Doc
    We hate snakes

  • Becky Metts May 17, 2021, 10:18 pm

    This is an excellent article.
    Very scary.
    Thank you so much for your service and all that yin do!!!
    God bless and stay safe!!!

  • LJ May 17, 2021, 10:17 pm

    Yes, thank you for that. I won’t sleep worth a shit tonight. Probably have to get up and check under my bed several times before drifting off …

    As far as that pile of snakes all bundled together – a grenade tossed in there should do the trick!

  • Daniel Sanders May 17, 2021, 9:56 pm

    And you think these are bad! Was visiting Australia and a red bellied black snake actually chased me! I’m hauling ass and this big snake is right me. Got inside and the ugly fucker is nosing the screen door!

  • Firemanbob May 17, 2021, 9:42 pm

    What an article and follow up comments, really makes you think the next time your out and about here in Florida. Thank you all.

  • Mikial May 17, 2021, 9:14 pm

    Great article and I agree with the author regarding poisonous snakes. I’ve had run-ins with Cottonmouth and Copperheads when living in the East, but most of my adventures have involved Western Diamondbacks while hunting, backpacking and exploring mines and ghost towns in the West. I also spent 4 years at the National Training Center in the Mojave Desert while in the Army, which brought me into contact with Sidewinders and Mojave Greens. I have killed rattlers with everything from a .410 pistol, shotguns, and handguns to shovels and manchettes, and I would do it again every time.

  • phil May 17, 2021, 4:25 pm

    Ditto on dislike of vipers! I had a incident while on the Cumberland River west of Ft. Campbell while fishing. My bud owned the Bass boat and had run it up into a creek off the river under some tree limbs. We heard a clunk and looked forward. A moccasin dropped into the front of the boat and was looking at us. My bud got a .22 revolver out and took aim and started shooting! 5 shots and he missed! The sixth one got the snake, all the while I’m yelling that he’s putting holes in his boat! I was laughing so hard I could hardly talk. All my bud could do was look at the water coming up thru the holes, back at me and say OH, s#7t!

  • stephen v salassi May 17, 2021, 3:24 pm

    Never a good idea to shoot a .22 at a hard surface like water. You will get ricochets pretty often.

  • Floyd Weaver May 17, 2021, 3:05 pm

    I’m just like everyon else the only good snake is a dead one no matter what kind it is I hate thim with a passion I dont and canot understand how a non venomous creature can kill the poison snakes I’ve hurd that ennywase their was a huge rattle snake killed hear in Kentucky last year it was a radius looking thing it was as round as my arm’s I dont have small arm.s beat enny thing I ever seen in my life I dont know how old it was but to get that big had to be a hundred years old. LOL.LOL.

  • Ej harbet May 17, 2021, 1:41 pm

    Great article and excellent rifle.
    I’ve a 10/22 td with that stock.though mines not as polite it serves my needs.

  • Don from CT May 17, 2021, 1:41 pm

    Dear Mr. Dabbs,

    Great article. I read it and thought, I like how this guy thinks. So I googled you.

    There I saw a photo of a Vans RV6 associated with an article you wrote about bugging out via aircraft.
    As a 20+ year RV4 owner, who just recently sold it off, I am a bit jealous of your plane.

    Thanks for the great writing. Fly safe.

    Don from CT

  • Abe Mendez May 17, 2021, 1:35 pm

    I always look forward to your articles. Last year was my year of the snakes. My lovely bride was about to adjust the cushions on the porch patio furniture when just as she reached out she spotted a cotton mouth enjoying the shade. My reaction was to test out my new Keltec P-17 . The Keltec performed splendidly. A few days later a 4 ft Ratle snake slithered across our drive way and met a hailstorm of 22s. Two weeks later I had to dispatch a Copperhead in the back yard found it self in the middle of a hailstorm of 22s. Abe, Fitzpatrick Al

  • Moe Whiskey May 17, 2021, 12:17 pm

    In Upstate New York, many of the auto junkyards seem to be located in swamps or on creeks. I ran into a cottonmouth while trying to scrounge mounted tires for my mother-in-law’s Olds. I saw the snake, mouth wide open, coiled and ready. Three shots from my Colt Detective .38 special put it away. A little tip: aim low at a snake. I left without the tires.

    • Big Al 45 May 18, 2021, 11:21 am

      Sorry, but highly unlikely as the Cottonmouth is a Southern snake, and fares poorly in the Northern Clime.
      More likely to be a Copperhead rattler.
      You also have the Timber Rattler, but they don’t look even close to a Cottonmouth

  • Newell D Anderson May 17, 2021, 12:04 pm

    I farmed Pecans in the Brazos river bottom in Texas. For Cotton Mouths, I carried a Charter Arms .44 in my right work boot in a custom holster. It was loaded with three solids & two shot loads. Solids for Hogs & Alligators, shot for the snakes. Point the gun up pull the hammer back part way, & dial up the load you want. At 6’ a CCI shot load has a pattern the size of a dinner plate.

  • TERRENCE SMITH May 17, 2021, 11:36 am


  • John May 17, 2021, 11:15 am

    Way to go on those snakes.
    As a doctor, you should know there is another way to treat snake bite, bee stings. An electric shock with various means, ( stun gun, spark from a motor vehicle, electric fence, I remember reading about missionaries way back who used a winshield electric motor with a crank on it,) neutralizes the venom. Our church supported missionaries in the Ivory Coast who used a stun gun that they could set the charge to a low setting. If the bite was on the foot, they would start at the knee and zap 2 or 3 times going lower each time. when the patient complained about pain, they would do it again. The way I understood, this procedure would take 2-3 hours. Will not work on snake bites the attack the nervous system.
    I have a friend who has reactions to bee stings, after I told him about this he went and grabed an electric fence after a sting and it worked for him.

    google this

    missionaries use electric shock for snake bite

  • John Campbell May 17, 2021, 10:46 am

    Water moccasins give live birth rather than laying eggs. I killed a large female (with a shovel) in our lake front lot. There was a large bulge which I assumed was the snake’s dinner. The neighbors did a snake post mortem, and found 52 small snakes in the female, which must have been ready to give birth. What I read says water moccasins give birth to 10 or 20 (?), but after I killed the snake I confirmed it was a pit viper, because the pit was clearly visible with a closer inspection than you might do if it was still alive. I hate the stupid things, and while I’m normally live-and-let-live, I kill every water moccasin I find. BTW, we have seen only one coral snake on our property, and it was docile and almost sluggish. I used a broom and chased it back into the woods, since it didn’t seem like much of a threat given its personality.

  • Alllen May 17, 2021, 10:15 am

    I encountered a rattlesnake on a irrigation ditch in Eastern Oregon one summer I was working road construction. Went to a cold spring to cool down. I am not cool under fire when it comes to any snake but when a rattlesnake starts rattling I use firepower and volume. When done the snake was in 17 pieces. Why? Because that’s all I had. Until I went to the truck for more mags. I hate snakes and don’t lump. Them into groupings. They’re all scary.

  • Daniel ONeill May 17, 2021, 10:13 am

    I too hate these things. My motto, kill all snakes, don’t care if venomous or not. I live on land and it is wooded flood timber with creeks behind it in Texas. One evening I was walking my lab and and came out of the woods a little later than I wanted to after examining a fallen tree at the back of my property after a storm. I am just coming out of the tree line and my lab steps over a leaf with a snake under it, and I stepped on the 6 inch snake which I believe was a Copperhead. As I raised my foot he came out from under my foot and struck me on my bottom right heel. It felt like 2 hot nails hammered into my heel. I knew right away what it was. I never have been bitten before, and I turned and was hitting him with a stick to kill and take to the hospital for the correct anti venom. Bit @ 2030 hrs, in E.R. @ 2130 hrs, got Crofab @12 midnight. Within 1 hour pain, swelling and almost all discoloration almost gone. I was admitted due to a slight rise in my Creatinie due to being dehydrated and the Covid pandemic after which they sent my wife home and it is a long way, so I decided, against my better judgement to stay over night. A one night stay at the hospital I use to work at, and one dose of Crofab cost 46k. The Crofab was listed @ 38k for one dose. I had insurance and did not pay all that but still. I was grateful for the Crofab. I usually see the evil serpents before they see me, but this little bastard got the drop on me, and I did crush the serpent with my heel. A sort time later I went to the creek and took out my revenge with my Walther P 22. I must say, I am pretty good slaying serpents with that little gun. Loved you article. Take care. Daniel

  • Mike in a Truck May 17, 2021, 9:45 am

    I dont have a water viper problem.I have a copperhead infestation! They’re even in the trees above the pond! Cant go zinging 22’s in my development so I carry my S&W 351 PD with cci 22 magnum snake shot. Works well. Little nieces, dogs and copperheads dont mix well. One of thems gotta go. Guess which?

  • Mike P May 17, 2021, 9:21 am

    I’ll gladly take ticks in the summer and -30 snowy winters up where I live over sharing my space with these critters.

  • Big Al 45 May 17, 2021, 9:13 am

    I know of someone who lost a brother to a Cottonmouth encounter while running trot lines,
    The snake bit him, but the fall in the river drowned him. It is likely that both events caused his blood pressure to skyrocket, which would have hastened the effects of the bite.

  • Larry J May 17, 2021, 9:04 am

    I live in a rural area on the West coast of Florida. I also have problems with Cottonmouths. Developers are building a new subdivision near us and they are driving the snakes toward us. I was surprised to learn how close to record size my snakes were. I also have a pond on my property as well as wetlands in back. When I take the dogs out, I am constantly scanning for snakes. Cottonmouths are very aggressive. I am happy to send them to the great Cottonmouth in the Sky whenever I can.

  • Boone May 17, 2021, 8:50 am

    I suppose every Southerner has tails of these beasties. One of my first memories in the outdoors was being 12 or 13 years old and having a water moccasin charge our boat while Dad and I were running a trotline near Clarendon, Arkansas. Dad pulled out a 22 revolver and shot him off the side of the boat as he was coming towards us. Very much like the GoPro photo in your column.

  • Joe w May 17, 2021, 8:29 am

    Where I live in Northern Kentucky I’m liable to run into copperheads more than moccasins but I find them repulsive too. I’ve seen the naked and afraid show where the couple had to endure 21 days in a Louisiana swamp infested with cottonmouths. No thank you! Or the guy that lived in Florida that was looking for something in his back yard and stuck his hand under a pile of bricks and was promptly bitten by one. Who lives in Florida and does that? Oh, and thanks for the picture of the nest of them sunning on the bank. I already have trouble falling asleep.

  • Robert Boitt May 17, 2021, 7:26 am

    As a fisherman who encounters these nasty creatures more than I like, thank you for thinning the herd!
    I’ll never forget an encounter I had with one in my Canoe. I was fishing a weedy cove where a small creek entered. Out of the creek comes a HUGE Cottonmouth. It swims right for me lifting its head and looking into the Canoe, in my panic I swung my paddle at it almost flipping the Canoe and luckily it took off. Dang I hate those things almost as much as TICKS.

  • paul moss May 17, 2021, 6:52 am

    Well written ,informative. “I lika way you tawk.” Thanks for your service .

  • Mark May 17, 2021, 5:18 am

    Dr. Dabs you certainly have an amazing resume. Thank you for your service. Your article about dispatching venomous snakes utilizing a 22 rifle is exceptional and frightening. Your use of the firearm nomenclature was somewhat excessive. I must inquire if your extermination procedures resulted in a noticeable decrease of the pit viper population?

    • William May 17, 2021, 2:46 pm

      What was frightening or excessive? I grew up on the Texas coast near Freeport, TX. All 4 of the venomous snakes in the USA reside there. I grew up playing in the woods where we ran across all flavors with frequency. I once killed a 3′ coral snake trying to come into our garage. It is probably still on display in a jar at Brazosport High School. One of my friends was bitten by a cottonmouth and it takes a long, PAINFUL, time for a complete recovery. There is no shortage of poisonous snakes in some areas so when you can kill them before they produce more – DO IT!

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