All of my kin live in Kentucky . Half on the south side of Cumberland Lake , half on the Somerset side . Heard hairraising tales all my young life when we were downhome .
But , I grew up and have lived all my life in Ohio, and most of it in a county that was as flat as an expesive billiards table and world famous for producing more hogs than any of the other 87 counties . Seeing a big ol' water snake or 5-6 foot blacksnake was common . All them free ranging hogs(actually fenced in large fields) ate all the snakes that were poisonous long before I entered this world .
Then in order to be closer to some Wild Turkeys I bought a home in the hills of Highland County and began hunting the Tranquility Wildlife Area , which just happens to be in the states most notorious county for poverty , drugs and venomous vermin . Upon my early ventures into that hunting area I was always looking where each foot was going to land . Moved fast and never stand in one spot too long . Setting up on a bird was always preceeded by a good examination of the immediate surroundings . In 13 spring and fall seasons I ain't seen a snake yet . Though one morning I felt sure I would . This gobbler had me busy and then he went silent . I'm sitting there in dry leaves wondering where he is ,,,why doesn't he gobble? ,,,,,did he leave ? Not knowing whether to call or not I just sat still and quiet . Then it started ! Leaves began to rattle to my immediate right . First just one leaf . Then a few . Then into continuous , slow motion leaf rattle. I could not imagine a turkey moving his feet that slow for any reason , besides that the noise of those leaves was only about 6 feet away and I should be able to see a turkey in my periferal vision . I could see nothing . Then I began the descision battle . Sit still for the turkey or sit still and get fanged by what surely must be a copperhead or rattlesnake . It's getting closer all the time I'm thinking. Couldn't take it no longer . I jerked my head around to line up my spectacles on the pertiest little Box Turtle you ever saw . The thought of it being a tarapon never entered my walnut . Relieved , I simply relaxed . And in doing so I moved my feet a little . The gobbler roared from about twenty yards and I nearly went airborn. He and I escaped that dreadful experience ,,,that day . Tom died the following morning ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,and I ain't seen a snake yet .
I doubt I have been bitten by more than a dozen skeeters in that 13 years . Have gone whole seasons without carrying a tick on me . But , CHIGGERS ! Those perfectly still and dry mornings when I'm standing somewhere , usually alone , in the dark listening for coyotes and turkeys , is usually enterrupted by the stampede of chiggers racing across the woods floor ,,down the breakridge gametrail , and even climbing that dreadful ridge just to get on my hide .