Hundreds attend Monroeton Rod & Gun Club's rattlesnake hunt
Carl Green of Dushore said he was 68 years old when he first began to hunt timber rattlesnakes in the local area.
"I don't think it's dangerous," said Green, now 72. "I don't do anything foolish. You've got to be very cautious.
"You have to be quick to get them," he added. "They try to get away from you."
Green was one of 16 people who participated in the Monroeton Rod & Gun Club's annual rattlesnake hunt on Saturday. The two-day hunt continues today.
The captured reptiles are brought to the club grounds in Monroe Township, where the hunters place them in a pen.
They'll be released at around 5 p.m. today back to the places they were found.
Hundreds of members of the public attended a free festival on the club's grounds Saturday that's held in conjunction with the hunt, where they got a chance to see the poisonous snakes, listen to a live band, participate in horseshoe tournament, and buy food at a chicken barbecue.
The festival continues from 11 a.m. into the evening today, said Lynn Westbrook, manager of the club.
Green said he began hunting rattlesnakes after he moved to the local area from Clearfield County and met people who hunt the snakes.
The rattlesnakes are found in rocky areas near the top of local mountains, and they tend to be found on the south side of mountains, he said.
"Most of the time they are found when they are sunning themselves," he said. "As soon as they see you, they try to hide."
He set he uses a 3-foot set of tongs to hunt the snakes.
Tammy Stevens of Towanda said she has attended the festival every year since she moved to the local area from Oregon.
Last year, she said, she got a chance to touch one of the rattlesnakes. Before she touched it, the handlers had put its head into a tube, so that it could not bite anyone, she said.
The snakes feel rough and scaly, she said.
"My husband is terrified of them, but he's over there (at the pen) looking at them," Stevens said.
John McNeal of Monroeton said he has been rattlesnake hunting for 23 years, but has never been bitten.
He said his 10-year-old son had begun hunting rattlesnakes last year, and had caught one this year, which was 43 or 44 inches long.
McNeal said he ate deep-fried rattlesnake last year at a friend's house in Liberty Corners, and said it tasted good.
"A lot of females were eating it," he said. "I was surprised."
As of 3:30 p.m., a total of four rattlesnakes had been brought to the pen.
McNeal said there used to be many more rattlesnakes brought in, but the number declined after the state instituted new regulations for rattlesnake hunting several years ago.
Under those regulations, only male rattlesnakes can be brought to the pen, and they have to be at least 42 inches long, he said. And in conformance with state regulations participants in the hunt can only bring back one snake to the pen, he said.
In the past, hunters might harvest 20 or 30 at time, he said.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.