TEXOMA (KFDX/KJTL) — Rattlesnakes are just something here in Texoma most of us have learned to fear, respect and try to avoid our entire lives, the same as we do with black widows and brown recluse spiders.
Here we are in springtime, the most likely time we will encounter a rattlesnake. So Curtis Jackson and Darrell Franklin are showing you where you can turn if the encounters are getting too close for comfort and endangering your pets, your children and you.
“You couldn’t pay me enough to crawl up under that house,” Jack County native Jon Glidewell said of his family’s historic home.
The historic home in Jack County has been in Glidewell’s family for over 120 years. The trees were there before the house, and so too were rattlesnakes.
“There’s always been some kind of rattlesnake problem over here,” Glidewell said. “I don’t know if they’re raised over here and keep coming back, or if it’s just the area.”
Today, it’s Jon’s daughter Emily who enjoys the same beautiful view from her front porch as her great, great grandparents, and just as they did, she’s dealing with rattlesnakes.
“I guess i’m just used to it,” Emily Glidewell said. “I never thought I’d be living here, hearing snakes and coming outside shooting snakes. I’m just a girl, but it is what it is. It’s part of country living, and you just get used to it.”
“‘Course my daughter, it was back in the summer, they shot eight different copperheads back there under the bois d’arc tree behind the house,” Jon said. “Yesterday when we came over, I’d just kinda had my fill of taking care of the snakes myself, and while we had that one stretched out on the front porch, I just took a picture, sent it to him and called him and said, we need a little help.”
“It’s nearly all hobby,” rattlesnake hunter Richard Luna said. “All the bills, we do get a few donations here and there, but it’s nearly all out of pocket.”
Richard, Charles and Scott Welch’s services are free up to 50 miles from the Wichita Falls area, then about a dollar a mile after that. Richard said in over four years, they’ve caught over 20,000 snakes.
“Have I had some close calls? Oh yeah, I’ve had to shoot my way out from under a house,” Richard said. “I’ve had one strike and knock my hat off.”
“We take every precaution we can and hope that’s enough to keep us safe,” Welch said.
Scott joined the team and became a rattlesnake hunter when his dog, Toffe, was bitten.
“My wife went to let the dog out, and of course the dog was ready to go out, so he was in a hurry and he pushed past her, and a rattlesnake had come up and gotten between the screen door and her door, and she didn’t know it,” Scott said. “And he pushed past her and went out to get it. And it bit him on the nose, right on the bridge of his nose. And he, within 30 minutes, he was unconscious.”
Even with antivenom and an IV, Toffe did not make it home from the vet.
Scott’s wife found Rattlesnake Hunters of Texoma soon after that.
“My wife found them on Facebook, I believe, and I called them and said well here’s what happened,” Scott said. “We’ve had this problem. We want you to come out and just check, make sure we don’t have a bigger problem we don’t know about.”
To date, more than 53 snakes have been found under Scott’s house.
“It is rather a wake up call because our kids go out and play outside,” Scott said.
Fortunately on this outing, no snakes were found under Scott’s house.
“Tomorrow might be completely different,” Luna said. “We may end up with 100 snakes, then the next day – nothing. It just deals with the weather, the temperature, you know, the rain.”
What the rattlesnake hunters found at the Glidewell family home is what they normally see and the reason they’re so in demand.
“When you go under a house, it’s blind,” Luna said. “You know, you gotta look around that corner and make sure there aint nothing there. You’ve got to try to see above you to make sure he ain’t waiting to fall on you.”
“So yeah, it’s more an adrenaline rush than anything,” Luna said. “But you know, it’s kind of like bass fishing. Once you catch that first 10-pounder, you’re hooked. And I mean, that’s all you think about. I’ve got to get out and catch some snakes, I’ve got to get out and catch some snakes. It’s every day.”
Now, it’s springtime in Texoma, the most active time of year for snakes when it’s warmer and snakes move around to hunt.
They’re for sure moving around the Glidewell family home.
“My grandmother would hear them all the time, and she would go out here and get a shovel or hose,” Emily said. “She never shot ’em, but she’d be 60 years old, out here just killing snakes like it was no big deal.”
“I guess it’s kind of a tough call, whether I love the house more than I love the snakes, but it’s just something you’ve got to deal with,” Emily said. “I guess i’ll just keep shooting them as they come out.”
“We’ve always had a rattlesnake problem over here,” Jon said.
They likely always will, just like so many others, especially throughout the Southwest and Mexico.
The Glidewells can at least rest a little easier knowing they’ve got Rattlesnake Hunters of Texoma on their side.
In Texoma, besides the most common Western diamondback rattler, the other venomous snakes you could come across are copperheads and maybe cottonmouths, or water moccasins, mostly in the eastern edge of Texoma.
It’s much more likely you’ll come across the scores of harmless, non-venomous snakes we have around here.