A BRIEF LESSON ON SNAKE STICKS

A good snake stick: the big picture. 55K, JPG.


LAST UPDATED ON 2013-June-30!


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The authors' favorite SNAKE STICKS are made from shark gaffs purchased from a Kroger Grocery store on the Seawall Boulevard of Galveston, Texas. The manufacturer's label has long been worn off on cacti and rocks, so we can't tell you who makes them. It is presumed that they will also be available along the east and Gulf coasts of North America, maybe along the west coast as well. Look in the larger hardware, sporting goods and fishing supply stores.

If you can't find the same brand, look for a gaff with a handle that fits your hand well and a length approximately the distance between your belt buckle and the ground. The hook should be stout. Stainless steel is best. File off the edges and point. The whole idea behind a snake stick is that it merely manipulates the snake, you're not supposed to shish kabob it!

Short SNAKE STICKS are sometimes also sold in outdoor fitter's stores but are to be strictly avoided. They're extremely hard on your back, forcing you to bend over for everything, and if you ever do find a venomous snake you must get far too close to it because of the short staff.

Don't purposely chose an exceptionally long stick in the belief that you need to be extra far away from a venomous snake. (We've seen ten foot shark gaffs, presumably intended for "Jaws!") Too long a stick will persistently snag in brush and be a constant threat to anyone near you. Whacking your field tripping buddy every few minutes is no way to keep a friend! However, if you're unsure of the correct length, purchase one with a slightly longer handle and plan on returning to town to have someone shorten it after a day or two of experimenting in the bush.

A good snake stick: detail of the hook. 59K, JPG

This is a "before and after" detail of how to bend the hook. You'll have to use a sturdy vise and maybe help matters along with a few well placed hammer blows. The hook is bent in such a way as to allow up to a 2 centimeter (one inch) protrusion of the point beyond the handle as shown in the right-hand example.

Hint: Grasp the base of the steel hook in the vise and use the leverage of the handle to bend it. If you position the bend up the length of the hook a few centimeters more than we did here (i.e., a little farther from the wooden handle), the point will protrude a little farther beyond the handle, a definite advantage when trying to hook rocks and logs.

SNAKE STICKS are misnamed. In fact, unless you purposely hunt snakes, you may never get to use it on them. By far the most common uses are as convenient tools for rolling over rocks and logs and as walking staffs. When using the hook to roll over a rock or log, always stand behind the object and lift the far side towards you. That way you'll be protected from a lunge by the only snake you'll ever see in the wild!


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Copyright © 1998, Stanley A. Schultz and Marguerite J. Schultz. here for additional copyright information.

This page was initially created on 2000-January-28.
The last revision occurred on 2013-June-30.


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