Category Archives: Rattlesnakes

Montana Fields

We try to get out to Montana every year in October for some bird hunting and photography and hiking. This year, we arrived to about an inch of snow. While it is beautiful, it is quite chilly. The good thing about it is that rattlesnakes don’t like cold weather so I didn’t have to worry as much about Emma and Ruby getting bitten.

You may remember Emma as a puppy four years ago. We had great hopes that she would someday become a good flusher and retriever of game birds.

She hasn’t disappointed us. In spite of being quite small, this English field cocker spaniel is full of energy and her cuddly nature takes a back seat when it comes to finding birds. Nothing gets away from her.

If you thought the prairies were only boring grassy fields, you couldn’t be more wrong. The coulees are full of prickly shrubs, birds, and small animals. A fat hare came tearing out of the shrubs here and just as I was about to snap a photo, my battery died.

But later I caught this mule deer running away from all the commotion. I traipsed along behind the Captain and Emma as they did their pheasant hunting thing, hoping for something interesting to photograph, and I saw something the deer had left behind last year — an antler shed. It was only the second time I had ever found one and I was quite happy about stumbling across it.

After the snow from the day before, the mostly clay ground was “wettish,” and while we had heavy clods of mud on our boots, Emma’s feet were getting harder and harder for her to pick up. Besides collecting many burrs in her fur, she had huge clumps of clay on her feet. Here she is getting them soaked off, just before I took the comb and scissors to her curly ears to remove the burrs.

She is usually so energetic, we weren’t sure this was our Emma flaked out on the couch after the day’s outing.

It was Ruby’s turn to go out today, but she is sick. We think she drank some bad water. This has happened one other year and we have given her some meds that we hope will fix her up in a day or two.

PS Now, two days later, Ruby is feeling much better. We are so relieved.



We’re on the road again. No van this time. No more travels from years ago. We are back to the present. Pulling a small trailer, we are like snails dragging our home on our backs. After driving through scrub land in the state of Washington, we found a perfect oasis near the mighty Columbia River. Wanapum State Park was a great place to stay for the night. All the services were available for trailer hookups, and although our trailer is a very modest one, we especially appreciated the convenience of having electricity.

The grounds were lush and well cared for, but a stone’s throw away, was the semi-arid scrub land reminding us that we were, nevertheless, in the middle of nowhere. The sign posted nearby reminded us of that. It said: “Rattlesnake Area.”


That night, I heard the yip-yip-yipping of coyotes. Ruby, our springer spaniel, gave a little woof and curled up more tightly on her mat on the trailer floor, knowing we would save her if anything came near. In the morning, in the scrubby area near the campground, one of the coyotes was enjoying the warmth of the sun on his coat.


That’s the Columbia River in the background.


I thought this fellow looked very well fed. He posed for me for quite a while, and just when I thought he would turn and run, he sat down instead to enjoy more of the sunshine.


I hope he can read, so he knows about the rattlers. Be careful out there!