Advice with Herping

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YoungHerpetologist02
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Advice with Herping

Post by YoungHerpetologist02 » July 23rd, 2013, 6:06 pm

Does anybody have advice on herping. For all herps like snakes.

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YoungHerpetologist02
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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by YoungHerpetologist02 » July 23rd, 2013, 6:27 pm

I live in NC , but in FL now.

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Mike VanValen
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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by Mike VanValen » July 23rd, 2013, 7:04 pm

Hit "Logout", and get out into the field.

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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » July 23rd, 2013, 7:42 pm

Hit "Logout", and get out into the field.
:thumb:

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YoungHerpetologist02
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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by YoungHerpetologist02 » July 24th, 2013, 6:41 am

I understand that, I was not looking for that answer, but I have found quite interesting animals. Eastern Kingsnake, Mexican Spinytail Iguana, Common House Geckos and Five-lined skinks. Cane Toads and Crocodilians, so please don't tell an answer to just log off and herp. I know that, but am asking for real advice.

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devilfish79
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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by devilfish79 » July 24th, 2013, 6:45 am

YoungHerpetologist02 wrote:I understand that, I was not looking for that answer, but I have found quite interesting animals. Eastern Kingsnake, Mexican Spinytail Iguana, Common House Geckos and Five-lined skinks. Cane Toads and Crocodilians, so please don't tell an answer to just log off and herp. I know that, but am asking for real advice.
I think if you were more specific in your questions, more people would respond. However, very few will give GPS coords to areas they herp personally. Are you looking for advice on weather, temps, altitudes or something? It seems like you're already on a really good path being that you're finding stuff. Just keep going out like you are and I'm sure you'll pick up on the tricks that work for your area.

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Rancorrye
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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by Rancorrye » July 24th, 2013, 9:09 am

The things that have helped me most are field guides and trial and error. If something isn't working try something new. Try different times of day or night. Try different weather conditions, different temps, different moon phases, etc. Take a notepad out with you and start writing down when you see things and the conditions you found them under. That will start giving you a better idea of the more favorable times to get out. It sounds like you are already finding things so keep at it and good luck :thumb:

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azatrox
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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by azatrox » July 24th, 2013, 10:33 am

I’ll do my best to answer your general question with a specific answer (broken down into numerous parts)…This is quite difficult, as “herping” is VASTLY different depending upon a multitude of factors (i.e. region of the country, species you’re looking for, time of year, etc.). So, advice given for one herper may be completely different than that given to another. With that said, there are at least a few common ideas that I think hold value regardless of where one is, what one is looking for or when they’re looking for it.

1) Research, research, research….Do your own research…Get your hands on and absorb as much info about as much as you can…Historical weather patterns, animal histories, anecdotal reports, etc. all provide valuable info that can have a demonstrable effect on your “luck” in the field….The more you know, the better you’ll do.

2) Be PERSISTENT AND PATIENT….Having run into quite a few newer, younger herpers in the field, I can tell you that it is perhaps these qualitiies that pop up more than any others when we talk about reasons that people aren’t successful in the field. NO ONE can reliably run out and start finding animals in numbers regardless of weather, time of year, etc. without both 1 & 2….***GETTING “SKUNKED” TELLS YOU JUST AS MUCH ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR THAN FINDING ANIMALS AT EVERY TURN DOES***. Yes, striking out can be frustrating…Yes, it sucks to spend money and time searching in vain…But if you’re using those experiences as they should be used, then you are analyzing what you’re doing (and by definition what you’re NOT doing)…react and adjust accordingly. If afternoon hiking/cruising isn’t producing, then hike/cruise in the morning…or at night…when you start getting results, pay particular attention to what is different from when you were striking out….the devil is in the details. Wanna quit after an hour of hiking and not seeing anything? Well, you generally won’t have much success….

3) HAVE FUN! If you look at a day in the field as a wasted day because you didn’t see anything, then you’ve TOTALLY missed the boat!!! Just because you didn’t see what you wanted doesn’t mean that your experience can’t be enjoyable and educational. Often, you’ll find something totally unexpected that wouldn’t have been seen if you didn’t get out….Even if you don’t find anything new and exciting, you’re still out in the great outdoors instead of confined to a cubicle looking at ugly people all day long. So stop whining.

-Kris

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sep11ie
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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by sep11ie » July 24th, 2013, 11:07 am

Advice:

When you lift a board, stone, log, rock or piece of bark put it back right how it is. Just cause something may not have been there when you lifted it, doesn't mean it won't be there next time.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by Kelly Mc » July 24th, 2013, 11:51 am

azatrox wrote:I’ll do my best to answer your general question with a specific answer (broken down into numerous parts)…This is quite difficult, as “herping” is VASTLY different depending upon a multitude of factors (i.e. region of the country, species you’re looking for, time of year, etc.). So, advice given for one herper may be completely different than that given to another. With that said, there are at least a few common ideas that I think hold value regardless of where one is, what one is looking for or when they’re looking for it.

1) Research, research, research….Do your own research…Get your hands on and absorb as much info about as much as you can…Historical weather patterns, animal histories, anecdotal reports, etc. all provide valuable info that can have a demonstrable effect on your “luck” in the field….The more you know, the better you’ll do.

2) Be PERSISTENT AND PATIENT….Having run into quite a few newer, younger herpers in the field, I can tell you that it is perhaps these qualitiies that pop up more than any others when we talk about reasons that people aren’t successful in the field. NO ONE can reliably run out and start finding animals in numbers regardless of weather, time of year, etc. without both 1 & 2….***GETTING “SKUNKED” TELLS YOU JUST AS MUCH ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR THAN FINDING ANIMALS AT EVERY TURN DOES***. Yes, striking out can be frustrating…Yes, it sucks to spend money and time searching in vain…But if you’re using those experiences as they should be used, then you are analyzing what you’re doing (and by definition what you’re NOT doing)…react and adjust accordingly. If afternoon hiking/cruising isn’t producing, then hike/cruise in the morning…or at night…when you start getting results, pay particular attention to what is different from when you were striking out….the devil is in the details. Wanna quit after an hour of hiking and not seeing anything? Well, you generally won’t have much success….

3) HAVE FUN! If you look at a day in the field as a wasted day because you didn’t see anything, then you’ve TOTALLY missed the boat!!! Just because you didn’t see what you wanted doesn’t mean that your experience can’t be enjoyable and educational. Often, you’ll find something totally unexpected that wouldn’t have been seen if you didn’t get out….Even if you don’t find anything new and exciting, you’re still out in the great outdoors instead of confined to a cubicle looking at ugly people all day long. So stop whining.

-Kris

Stellar Post :thumb:

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chris_mcmartin
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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by chris_mcmartin » July 24th, 2013, 12:26 pm

azatrox's post should be made into a sticky.

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YoungHerpetologist02
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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by YoungHerpetologist02 » July 24th, 2013, 1:30 pm

Thank you for the answers, I see what am going to do now, and learned something new.

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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by Scott Waters » July 24th, 2013, 1:39 pm

Good idea, Chris. I made it an announcement on all FHF pages. Big thanks to azatrox!

scott

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tomharten
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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by tomharten » July 24th, 2013, 3:55 pm

I will just add that I started out as a herper back in middle school in the mid 1970s. I began going out looking for snakes, but eventually got very interested in birds, insects, plants, rocks, fossils, and other elements of natural history. My quest for snakes got me out there in the natural environment and got me connected to a host of interests that I continue to expand upon 40 years later. In fact, I get to teach about this stuff as a part of my job today.

Get out there as much as you can. I don't ever remember truly regretting a day spent in the field, but can remember regretting many in which I decided NOT to go out.

Good luck and keep us posted on what you find!

Tom

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Mike VanValen
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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by Mike VanValen » July 24th, 2013, 10:13 pm

I stand by my original response. All of this advice was awesome, but you can't do any of it unless YOU GO OUT AND DO IT.

:thumb:

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Mark Brown
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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by Mark Brown » July 25th, 2013, 12:57 am

azatrox wrote:If you look at a day in the field as a wasted day because you didn’t see anything, then you’ve TOTALLY missed the boat!!!
Couldn't agree more, Kris. I've said for years that herping like fishing. If you have to find herps (or catch fish) to have a good time, you should probably find another hobby.

The real pleasure is in the going, not the finding.

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azatrox
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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by azatrox » July 25th, 2013, 6:51 am

Thanks guys.

Tom brings up a good point....for those that are new to field herping, it's completely possible (even likely) that they'll run into all manner of insects, plants, birds, rocks, etc. that they've never seen before. These things may "stoke a fire" and lead to a greater appreciation of all things wild, not just reptiles and amphibians....To me, this is one of the most valuable lessons that this passion/hobby teaches....That is, it illustrates how wonderful the natural world really is...and why it needs to be protected and conserved.

-Kris

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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by devilfish79 » July 25th, 2013, 7:47 am

Mark Brown wrote:
azatrox wrote:If you look at a day in the field as a wasted day because you didn’t see anything, then you’ve TOTALLY missed the boat!!!
Couldn't agree more, Kris. I've said for years that herping like fishing. If you have to find herps (or catch fish) to have a good time, you should probably find another hobby.

The real pleasure is in the going, not the finding.
Both these quotes on so many levels! Nature, by itself, is amazing. Any wildlife you come across is a bonus. Think of herping this way: you're there to hike but if you see something, even better.

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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by curtiswheat » July 25th, 2013, 7:47 am

As a beginner in Field Herping I can see the difficulty in finding exactly what Im looking for. I agree 100% with taking the time to see the beauty in the world we live in. Everything is so fast paced now days that we tend to just blow past the little things and go straight for the goal... Got this little worker the other day when I was having no luck locating what i intended to find.

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Mark Brown
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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by Mark Brown » July 25th, 2013, 8:35 am

My favorite herping experiences, by far, have been with fellow herpers whom I'd characterize as "naturalists" - folks who were extremely well-versed in all aspects of nature and could (and did) identify and discuss all sorts of plants and animals that we observed. I try to be well-rounded in this regard but I wouldn't ever put myself in the same category as some of these people. A companion like that can turn an unproductive day in the field, by herping standards, into something you'll remember for the rest of your life.

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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by reptilist » July 25th, 2013, 9:13 am

I prefer to say that I'm going exploring, or poking around, because I never get skunked that way.

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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by muskiemagnet » July 25th, 2013, 1:12 pm

wow, lots and lots of good stuff here. makes me laugh that a newb post turned into this.

i also like the mention of "other stuff". yes, a day getting skunked isn't that great but i tend to evaluate these times. new ideas that can be put to the test later. one cannot focus on herps. the whole picture needs to be seen and appreciated in order to learn. all the other stuff will help you find herps. i'll use vultures for example. when the thermals off the den are weak, the vultures are very low to the den face. ground temps are too cold. as they rise, you know that the ground is warming nicely. going too soon or too late can mean the difference between a two timber day or a ten timber day.

-ben

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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by Tim Borski » July 25th, 2013, 5:45 pm

That's a nice observation, Ben. I use stuff like that all the time...from Shrikes to vultures to Mocking birds and beyond.


Tim

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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by Repsrock21 » July 26th, 2013, 3:43 pm

Just a Question how old are you I think it's great that a young person is going out into the feild ;) anyway my advice is that you find a local hiking trail and hike it and flip stuff that really helps me find lifers.

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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by Coluber Constrictor » July 26th, 2013, 4:55 pm

Basic tips for finding snakes: get out early or late, avoid mid day, spring and fall are the best times of year, flip artificial and natural cover (and always put it back), check out edge habitat (vacant lots, forest clearings, field edges etc). This time of year can be pretty slow in the coastal southern states btw. And it can pay off to pay attention to what the birds are doing-I've been led to snakes before by mockingbirds, towhees, etc.

Oh, and get out there A LOT.

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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by kricket » July 26th, 2013, 5:48 pm

Not that this thread needs another person agreeing with what everyone else said, but here it goes anyway. :D Almost everything I know about forest ecology and the creatures that live there is from herping. At first I was so focused on finding snakes - that was all that mattered. After getting a face full of spider webs enough times, I started noticing the spiders. Then I started noticing which species of spiders appeared at what time of year, what kind of webs they made, what time of day (or night) they were out, what type of prey they caught. You start to see the patterns emerge from the chaos.

Flipping logs is like peeking into a secret world. I've found centipedes guarding their eggs, nursery web spiders protecting their spiderlings, beetles raising their young in communities, harvestmen stealing prey from spiders, ants raiding termite colonies and a million other cool creatures going about their lives. I try to take pictures if I can (I always have at least my iPhone handy) and then identify what I find later. That way you never really get skunked because even in winter you can find something interesting out there, even if it's not a herp. It's all a frame of mind. :thumb:

Oh, but one piece of practical advice that I haven't seen listed here yet: if you flip a log and hear a loud buzzing noise, run away really fast! Being stung repeatedly by the angry wasps after you accidentally rip open their nest is kind of a bummer. :(

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Mark Brown
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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by Mark Brown » July 27th, 2013, 1:40 am

kricket wrote:Oh, but one piece of practical advice that I haven't seen listed here yet: if you flip a log and hear a loud buzzing noise, run away really fast! Being stung repeatedly by the angry wasps after you accidentally rip open their nest is kind of a bummer. :(
That's very good advice. I've never run into them under logs but, at least in Texas, they love to nest in manmade stuff like old stoves, refrigerators, mattresses, etc. I'm always very careful when turning that kind of thing and if I hear anything I get ready to haul butt. If you spend a moment wondering, "What's that noise" you may have blown your chance to make a safe getaway.

As you can imagine, with the rapid spread of Africanized bees in the south, this problem has transitioned from being a painful annoyance to something that can be life-threatening.

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YoungHerpetologist02
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Re: Advice with Herping

Post by YoungHerpetologist02 » July 27th, 2013, 3:36 am

Thank you with all the replays, a lot you could learn from here, and I just started to get in to herping a few months ago, and am only 11. So still having lots to learn.

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