Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

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R3dguitarist
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Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by R3dguitarist » October 23rd, 2013, 3:16 pm

I'm looking at hitting next year especially hard for rattlesnakes (in addition to whatever else I can get my hand on that has scales....) And that being said, I'm working at building up some better gear... ie a more solid hook, tubes, etc. I currently have a pair of greaves (leg armor) that are made out of 9 oz veg tanned tooling leather (approx. a bit more than 1/8th of an inch thick) that covers the entire front of my shin in a single sheet and the back in another sheet. These are worn over jeans and mid-shin heighth leather and steel toed boots. The rattlesnakes in my area are all C. viridis, so relatively small fangs. Do you think that this "armor" is appropriately safe? I realize that there's no fool-proof protection, and that the best way to not get killed is to simply not touch, I'm just attempting to minimalize risk. I don't plan on any handling aside from hooking and tubing, I'm mostly concerned about surprise bites from snakes I didn't see behind a rock I stepped over, etc. Any suggestions on whether or not this is sufficient, better recommendations, suggestions for additional gear, or just general discussion on the subject?
Thanks for your time!

Also, I'm considering lining the inside of the leather with thin aluminum sheets. Just adding that fact for consideration as well.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by Antonsrkn » October 23rd, 2013, 4:34 pm

How about something like this?
http://www.ebay.com/itm/OLD-MEDIEVAL-FU ... 1c3749fb5b

Should keep you safe from those pesky crossbows as well. ;)

I'd say vigilance is the best defense, i personally don't bother with special protection other than long pants and hiking boots even when I'm in areas where it could come in handy. Frankly I think youre much more likely to get bit with the hooking and tubing than just looking for them.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by Tim Borski » October 23rd, 2013, 6:22 pm

I wear gaiters from White water. They've saved my butt twice. Leave the tube at home...why would you want to mess with something as common and mundane C. viridis? (Have you not seen pics of bites before?) Stop before you even start.

Sorry...this just seems like a bad idea.

Tim

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by chris_mcmartin » October 23rd, 2013, 6:26 pm

I have SnakeGuardz for my daughter and me. I can't say how well they work against fangs, since I've never had a venomous snake strike at me, but I like them for tromping through brush and cactus.

My bosses basically require me to wear some sort of protective gear while on my herping forays (at least the ones were I'm not just cruising or shining cuts), so this assuages their fears.

I do get a lot of sideways looks on Snake Road, like from people pushing their babies in strollers while wearing shorts and flip flops, but I also feel a little more confident going well off the beaten path wearing the guards.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by gbin » October 23rd, 2013, 6:41 pm

Antonsrkn wrote:I'd say vigilance is the best defense...
Strongly seconded. Eyes on and hands off is by far the best way to avoid a venomous snakebite. I don't even bother with boots, and only wear long pants when the vegetation and/or biting insects call for such. Just don't put a body part anywhere you haven't checked out first and don't mess with the rattlesnakes you find (tubing them would definitely qualify as messing with them, by the way ;) ) and you'll be fine.

Gerry

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by Tim Borski » October 23rd, 2013, 6:51 pm

When my boys were younger and had shorter attention spans, I bought the three of us Gaiters from White water. I wore them by example so my sons wouldn't feel stupid. Since then, I've been slapped hard on the leg twice by Cottons I didn't see. We wear them every day, all day...they are not uncomfortable at all, and many times I pull into my driveway and realize I still have them on.

Tim

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by R3dguitarist » October 23rd, 2013, 7:16 pm

Rattlesnakes are a personal fascination of mine, hence the reason I want to tube, to get fairly good data regarding size, girth, pattern, etc. It also allows for identification of individuals. And as Tim said, the biggest concern is ones I don't see. That happens a lot to the people I talk to; only noticing a rattler nearby when it strikes because it's lost its rattle and thus didn't make a sound, or just didn't bother to warn, etc. I know that most people consider this to be "stupid and risky", and it is, but it seems to be the only way to really gather any accurate and reliable data on them. Unless you have better suggestions?

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by WW** » October 24th, 2013, 3:41 am

I have been taking a bunch of inexperienced UK students on a herp trip to AZ/NM for the last two years, and after a couple of close calls in the earlier years, they were made to wear Snake Guardz this year - I had no complaints about them being uncomfortable, and they certainly work well against cacti. Never had a strike against one yet, so that test is yet to come.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by VanAR » October 24th, 2013, 3:57 am

I've worn gaiters but I don't like them because they get really hot in hot weather. Vigilance is the best method, though I have stepped very near (nearly on) rattlesnakes I didn't see before and gotten quite a shock to have something rattling so close. That said, each one has rattled and rapidly moved out of my way.

Data gathering is fine, but you're putting yourself and the snake at unnecessary risk to tube them, especially if you haven't been trained to do so. C. viridis are especially difficult to tube compared to other rattlesnakes because they are high-strung, strike frequently, and stick to a defensive S posture when alerted. Tubing them when they are like that is nearly impossible unless you can convince them to start crawling or force them in using tongs. In either case, it's a risky exercise, both for you and for the snake, if you haven't been trained to do it and/or don't have experience doing it.

I'm not telling you not to do it, but make sure you are within the bounds of the law, and make sure you keep both yourself and the animal safe. If you can't do that, then don't do it.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by gbin » October 24th, 2013, 4:35 am

R3dguitarist wrote:... as Tim said, the biggest concern is ones I don't see...
I don't see where Tim said that, and I'm willing to bet he doesn't believe that, either. Many years of statistics on venomous snakebite demonstrate that by far the greatest risk comes from messing with the snake; not seeing the snake comes in a very distant second. I'm not trying to tell you what to do, R3d, but just to advise you to help keep you safe. Understanding where the risk actually lies in what you're planning to do is important. So, too, is keeping in mind that even people who are very knowledgeable and experienced in working with venomous snakes are sometimes bitten by them as a result.

Gerry

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by Kyle from Carolina » October 24th, 2013, 5:56 am

I recommend not tubing any rattlers if you want to avoid all unnecessary risk to yourself as well as unnecessary stress to the animal. There's really no need to handle them but if you really want to get involved with data collection, maybe there is a local university or herp organization that conducts monitoring research that you can get involved in. Researchers always need volunteers. Another benefit to this is that the data you collect will likely adhere to a more rigorous research design that has been approved to be statistically sound and ethical animal care protocols, etc.... Those are my thoughts, stay safe and have fun!

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by azatrox » October 24th, 2013, 6:23 am

I do get a lot of sideways looks on Snake Road, like from people pushing their babies in strollers while wearing shorts and flip flops, but I also feel a little more confident going well off the beaten path wearing the guards.

Chris...this was funny. :)
-------------------------------------
I'm just attempting to minimalize risk.

I don't plan on any handling aside from hooking and tubing...


For what it's worth, the best way to minimize the chances of a rattlesnake bite is to avoid all unnecessary contact with rattlesnakes. You don't need to touch them to determine sex (in most cases) or to differentiate individual animals. Getting bitten by a snake one didn't see is a remarkably rare event...it does happen, but the vast majority of bites occur when one is intentionally interacting with the snake in some fashion.

-Kris

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by chrish » October 24th, 2013, 6:26 am

I would say getting gaiters or thick leather to protect your legs is a waste of money. You aren't going to be bit by stepping on a rattlesnake, you are going to get bit handling one. The bite is going to be on your hands or arms, not your leg.

Think we are being melodramatic? Try this survey....ask 100 long time herpers how many of them have been bitten by venomous snakes. Find out how many of those were bitten on the legs or feet by stepping on/near a snake. My money says that number will be somewhere below 10%. The other 90% of the bites will have occurred when people were "taking data" on the snakes.
I personally don't know a single herper who has been bitten on the legs or feet. I know many herpers who have been bitten on the hands, including myself.

I'll be if you checked hospital records for snake bites you would find more than half of them occurred on the upper limbs, not on the legs and feet.

Buy one of those sets of Kevlar gloves if you really want protection. And then watch where you step. You can take a lot of data on snakes without ever laying your hands on them (hook them into a bucket and weigh them there, photograph them for a measurement). And why are you taking this data? Is it really worth the stress it puts on the snake.

And please understand where everyone's concern comes from. Some people are concerned about the well being of the snakes and know that being handled by humans is a very traumatic event for a snake that can have long term negative impacts. And others are concerned for your safety, and many of those people learned that lesson by being stupid themselves in the past. Most of us are both.

It is worth noting (in my long diatribe) that many of the people who said just don't handle them are "experienced" herpers like myself (read that as "old"). It seems that the longer you have been interested in these creatures, the less likely you are to feel the need to handle them. Interesting correlation, n'est-ce pas?
Try to look in the mirror and honestly ask yourself "why am I handling these snakes?" The honest answer may surprise you, and may lead you down to the hands off approach many of us take.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by Daryl Eby » October 24th, 2013, 6:39 am

I need a "like" button for Chrish's comment above. Spot on.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by AndyO'Connor » October 24th, 2013, 9:57 am

As Chris put it, you don't need to tube the snakes or touch them with your hands at all to weigh and measure them and you can identify them via photographs of markings. I won't say that gaiters are a waste, although the chances of being tagged below the waste by a venomous snake you didn't say exist (see Tim's experience) it's extremely low and I would venture a guess that Tim's examples are the exception to how much time he spends in the field and in habitat where it can be very difficult to see a species like a cottonmouth.

If you are hell bent on getting your hands on them to gather your info, then I would say the gloves of power or some similar snake glove would be a better investment than leg protection. If you are in an area with high grass, or a high density of rattlesnakes, or you don't see them often until they rattle or move away, then sure, get some gaiters, the two brands already mentioned are great.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by BillMcGighan » October 24th, 2013, 10:35 am

I’m very supportive of “hands-on” herping, understand the novelty and thrill of examining a venomous up close, and the desire for trophy pics, but unless you are doing an organized, school sanctioned study, view the hots from a safe distance.
Leave the tubes alone.


Commercial collectors of EDBs use to wear super protective gear, but they would often “stomp” through a palmetto patch, rip the animals out, with little regard for the habitat or the animal. It was probably doomed anyway once in their hands.



Chrish
ask 100 long time herpers how many of them have been bitten by venomous snakes.


55 years of herping - no venomous bites (Of course, now I’m cursed for saying that.)



Chris_mc
I do get a lot of sideways looks on Snake Road
Come on now, you can’t blame that on the SnakeGuardz, Chris. :) ;)

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by R3dguitarist » October 24th, 2013, 11:01 am

gbin wrote:
R3dguitarist wrote:... as Tim said, the biggest concern is ones I don't see...
I don't see where Tim said that, and I'm willing to bet he doesn't believe that, either.

Gerry
He had mentioned taking whacks from two unseen cottonmouths, which is MY biggest concern (I should have reworded that, my apologies).
chrish wrote:

And please understand where everyone's concern comes from. Some people are concerned about the well being of the snakes and know that being handled by humans is a very traumatic event for a snake that can have long term negative impacts. And others are concerned for your safety, and many of those people learned that lesson by being stupid themselves in the past. Most of us are both.

Try to look in the mirror and honestly ask yourself "why am I handling these snakes?" The honest answer may surprise you, and may lead you down to the hands off approach many of us take.
I really appreciate that advice and words of caution, thank you. I also really appreciate the more tactful approach you took in saying it. Again, as I've been trying to emphasize, I'm asking about opinions on the effectiveness of the leather gaiters for defense in unseen bites. A lot of the territory I work in is tall brush, keeping you from seeing the snake if it chooses not to rattle or can't rattle.

Again, I don't plan on handling unless I'd have to (ie situations where I wouldn't have access to a bucket and a tube is the only thing aside from a hook I could carry). I suppose I really should have voiced that more clearly at first; I don't plan in actually utilizing tubes or "armor", I just want them as a backup. It's the whole better safe than sorry mentality, I'd rather be prepared for any unforeseen situation than not.

As for clubs and societies doing this type of work, there are none I'm aware of in my immediate area. Also, I'm 17, so a lot of my options (the zoo, for example) are restricted to me. Otherwise I'd love to find something in this type of interest in the Denver/Westminster area!

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by Kent VanSooy » October 24th, 2013, 11:55 am

Once bit, twice shy.....I personally cannot tolerate walking in brush or grass during the season without gaiters or snake-proof boots. I used SnakeGuardz for a couple years, but they had an annoying habit of riding up and turning around, leaving a vulnerable par of my boot exposed. I started using snake boots, and don't have to worry about those so much. The twice shy part is I feel the need to wear gloves as well - thick leather welding gloves. They're not as uncomfortable as they sound.

Getting bit is horrible - the physical part may heal well, but the fear persists.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by chris_mcmartin » October 24th, 2013, 12:09 pm

I haven't had a problem with the Snake Guardz riding up...and as far as comfort, they do not seem to add any appreciable amount of 'heat' perceived when I wear them. I wear them with jeans, so I'm already out of my element (I'm more of a shorts and sandals guy), but if you're tearing through mesquite/cactus after a coachwhip, it's a little more comfortable with the jeans/gaiters than with shorts/sandals.

Azatrox--it may have been funny, but it was also true! I've taken my kid there before, and she wore the Snake Guardz as did I, so it's a little weird seeing the flip flops and strollers. My eyes ain't as good as they used to be, and I probably spot less than 50% of the snakes on The Road, so if all it costs me is a few sideways looks, I'll stick with the Snake Guardz.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by muskiemagnet » October 24th, 2013, 1:54 pm

ok, i just skipped past a bunch of posts.

what are you gathering data for? are you pit tagging or marking in any semi-permanent fashion?

-ben

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by VanAR » October 24th, 2013, 2:23 pm

I completely disagree on the use of welding gloves for handling rattlesnakes. I personally know several long-time researchers who have been bitten by, of all things, pigmy rattlesnakes, through such gloves. The glove of power has rave reviews, but I wouldn't personally put my faith in it.

Read Beaupre and Greene's section on handling live reptiles in the book "Reptile Biodiversity: Standard Methods for Inventory and Monitoring". They put together a rule list for venomous snakes that is very effective, which I'll paraphrase here.

1) Distance: Its simple, if you're out of the snake's strike range, they can't bite you. The key of this rule is- no tailing, no necking, and no picking up with gloves. All three fundamentally place you inside the snake's strike range.

2) Equipment- The goal of handling equipment is to facilitate distance. You can handle venomous snakes using hooks/tongs to keep them out of distance of your body. Make sure you use handling equipment that will not fail. Examples of failure-prone equipment include collapsible tools (though midwest makes some really good tongs these days) and welding gloves. Make sure the equipment is also safe for the animal. Restraining equipment (tubes, squeeze boxes) place physical barriers between you and the snake's head, but should be only used if absolutely necessary and should be checked for potential failure points. Buckets and boxes are the only acceptable transportation devices simply because snakes can't bite through them.

3) Attention: Always pay attention to the snake you are handling. Never move it within strike range of yourself or another person. Handling and restraint tools only work as well as the idiot using them.

Steve Beaupre and Harry Greene have been using these techniques to research pitvipers for decades without being bitten. At least in Steve's lab, his students have also done so for a collective 100+ person-years.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by R3dguitarist » October 24th, 2013, 2:25 pm

muskiemagnet wrote:ok, i just skipped past a bunch of posts.

what are you gathering data for? are you pit tagging or marking in any semi-permanent fashion?

-ben

I'd be gathering data to help better understand the species' behavioral patterns and growth patterns in the area. Marking would mostly be photographic; I've given thought to subcaudal clipping like with the bull snakes, but probably wouldn't with rattlers.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by Jimi » October 24th, 2013, 2:27 pm

You aren't going to be bit by stepping on a rattlesnake, you are going to get bit handling one. The bite is going to be on your hands or arms, not your leg.
I'm highly inclined to agree, but being of the blast-right-through-anything-vegetative persuasion I also appreciate a little body armor. For thorn country I have some cordura-faced brush pants. I always wear 10" leather boots and long sleeves and a brimmed hat so I can "tuck and push through". Sunglasses on chums are also very smart - beats a sharp stick in the eye every time. I also never carry tubes in the field, and rarely even a hook any more. Look ma, no hook. I think my personal risk exposure has gone way down since doing so. Just sayin'...

I also work for "fish and game" so am inclined to ask (not demanding an answer, just asking that you consider the question) if this is a "legitimate study", or just personal fun? Because there's definitely a legal dimension to it...as well as an ethical one. I hope you're not just hassling snakes for no good reason.

Finally, DO NOT short-sell viridis. "Just a viridis" is just stupid, alright? You could wind up tits-up in a deep hole thinking like that. I suggest looking at some snakebite photos for a quick reality check.

Good luck,
Jimi

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by dthor68 » October 24th, 2013, 2:44 pm

I have never really hunted out west. As a child I lived in Northern AZ. but all we ever found was whipsnakes and gophers. However, I can tell you what I wear hunting the SC lowcountry. I wear jean shorts, tee shirt, tennis shoes, no socks, a bandana to swat the mosquitos away and a couple shots of Off. All of that has been working well for me since 1988. I frequently have to adjust a cottonmouth or rattlesnake to get a good photo. When doing that I either grab it by the tail or find a nearby stick to maneuver it. When I was a teen I made a snake stick from one of my dads golf clubs, he was quite pissed about that. My snake stick was only used as a walking stick. I always feared hurting the animal when pinning its head. The only thing I ever wish for is either more Off or some sort of complete bodysuit of mosquito netting, if such a thing exists. Hopefully I will never regret not buying the snake gear.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by The Jake-Man » October 24th, 2013, 3:28 pm

While visiting timber dens and basking areas in Pennsylvania, I always wear my wind river gaiters. They are hot, and not very comfortable, but they saved my bacon last year when I unwittingly stepped on a rattlesnake in an area of tall, dense ferns. I have no idea why said rattlesnake was in tall, dense ferns, but when I stepped on it, it turned around and struck at my upper ankle, where the gaiters were protecting. Luckily neither of it's fangs penetrated the plastic plate. From then on, I have always worn my gaiters while in rattlesnake territory.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by Kent VanSooy » October 24th, 2013, 3:46 pm

I completely disagree with the idea of using welding gloves to handle rattlesnakes as well. The idea is to provide some degree of protection from an unseen rattlesnake when lifting a rock while looking for other things. I can see where my hand is going, but not necessarily all of my fingers when they’re curled under something.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by gbin » October 24th, 2013, 3:52 pm

VanAR wrote:Read Beaupre and Greene's section on handling live reptiles in the book "Reptile Biodiversity: Standard Methods for Inventory and Monitoring". They put together a rule list for venomous snakes that is very effective, which I'll paraphrase here.

1) Distance: Its simple, if you're out of the snake's strike range, they can't bite you. The key of this rule is- no tailing, no necking, and no picking up with gloves. All three fundamentally place you inside the snake's strike range.

2) Equipment- The goal of handling equipment is to facilitate distance. You can handle venomous snakes using hooks/tongs to keep them out of distance of your body. Make sure you use handling equipment that will not fail. Examples of failure-prone equipment include collapsible tools (though midwest makes some really good tongs these days) and welding gloves. Make sure the equipment is also safe for the animal. Restraining equipment (tubes, squeeze boxes) place physical barriers between you and the snake's head, but should be only used if absolutely necessary and should be checked for potential failure points. Buckets and boxes are the only acceptable transportation devices simply because snakes can't bite through them.

3) Attention: Always pay attention to the snake you are handling. Never move it within strike range of yourself or another person. Handling and restraint tools only work as well as the idiot using them.
Excellent contribution to the discussion. :thumb:
dthor68 wrote:... The only thing I ever wish for is either more Off or some sort of complete bodysuit of mosquito netting, if such a thing exists...
It does, indeed, and is being produced by a few different manufacturers. I wore a bug suit extensively while working in Guatemala, as I react badly to DEET and without some kind of protection the mosquitoes might well have bled me dry during the wet season. Buy it oversized (it won't help if the mesh is tight against your body) and be warned that it will trap more heat than you expect.

Gerry

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by M Wolverton » October 24th, 2013, 4:24 pm

I never had any use for tongs or tubes. There have only been a few times in a few places when I was glad to have boots.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by R3dguitarist » October 24th, 2013, 5:08 pm

VanAR wrote:I completely disagree on the use of welding gloves for handling rattlesnakes. I personally know several long-time researchers who have been bitten by, of all things, pigmy rattlesnakes, through such gloves. The glove of power has rave reviews, but I wouldn't personally put my faith in it.

Read Beaupre and Greene's section on handling live reptiles in the book "Reptile Biodiversity: Standard Methods for Inventory and Monitoring". They put together a rule list for venomous snakes that is very effective, which I'll paraphrase here.
I wholeheartedly agree with the welding gloves; they're too cumbersome and add false security. The other rules were certainly interesting, I agree with them too. Like I said, tubing would be last resort. The purpose of the questions I asked was in regards to protecting myself against instances with snakes in the ferns and what not, I don't at all intend to be handling rattlesnakes unless there is some unforseen circumstance where I must.
Jimi wrote: I also work for "fish and game" so am inclined to ask (not demanding an answer, just asking that you consider the question) if this is a "legitimate study", or just personal fun? Because there's definitely a legal dimension to it...as well as an ethical one. I hope you're not just hassling snakes for no good reason.

Finally, DO NOT short-sell viridis. "Just a viridis" is just stupid, alright? You could wind up tits-up in a deep hole thinking like that. I suggest looking at some snakebite photos for a quick reality check.

Good luck,
Jimi
I wouldn't be doing anything to harm or severely disturb the snakes; only weight, length (if possible, obviously circumstantial), and some form of identification which would most likely be pictures of unique patterns or pictures of unique deformities such as scarring or kinks, etc. I am interested in this as a personal study because it provides me with a level of information and experience I can't get through a text book or documentary. It isn't necessarily "legitimate" in the scholarly sense, but it's an honest and no-harm-intended, innocent endeavor by an aspiring herpetologist to gather first hand and accurate information regarding a species of key interest. And believe me; I'm by no means selling them short or thinking along the lines of "just a viridis", I've seen first hand what they are capable of.

To everyone else whom I feel (though you might not have intended to) has come across as belittling or aggressive, I didn't mean to start arguments or create dissension. I simply wanted opinions and to ask about the level of protection leather has to offer. If anything my intentions were to create a discussion on an interesting topic that was far from confrontational, which I feel it has somewhat morphed into. I apologize for warranting such interactions, I was just inquiring on a note of personal interest.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by Stohlgren » October 24th, 2013, 7:56 pm

You have responded very maturely to the suggestions given in this thread. Hopefully some of them have curved your thoughts about handling these snakes. I think we can all appreciate your desire to get out and chase down some rattlesnakes, but forget about tubes and I'm sure you will find that you never come across that "last resort" situation. Get a hook to help snakes off a road or if you want to (gently) pose a snake for photos (so long as they are not at a den/gestation/birthing site).

I recommend that if you find a snake in the wild, observe it from a distance. If it is coiled, come back the next day or week and see if it is still there. If it is on the move, follow it from a distance to see where it goes. I think you will learn a lot more of the stuff you don't get from text books that way, than you will from putting your hands on a snake. After you finish high school, seek out a college where a professor is doing snake research (check out Van's alma mater, Arkansas) and inquire about working or volunteering as an undergraduate assistant. That way you can get proper training in handling them. You just need to be patient. In the end you will do what makes you happy, and we are not trying to take the wind out of your sails, it just makes the snakes look bad when someone gets bit.

As for leg protection, I have worn snake boots (can't remember the brand), but they were terribly uncofortable. I have a pair of turtle skin gaitors, which are really light weight and supposedly can take a bite from an adult eastern diamondback. Like others have said, their best purpose is for trekking through thorns and cactus, but they give some piece of mind if you are worried. Can't speak to leather gaitors.

You are more likely to see cool things if you go out with the mentality of observing, rather than screwing with them:
Image

Image

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by Shane_TX » October 24th, 2013, 8:48 pm

Oh yes, I wear gaiters. Where I live atrox and cottonmouth are surprisingly abundant in the same prairie habitat. Sometimes I see them.

A lot of good advice on this thread about not screwing with the ones you see, and some very bad advice from the unexperienced crowd that apparently consider that they see all of the cryptic snakes, the venomous ones don't strike at them, etc.

I wear gaiters when I know that my eyes are weak protection. Not always the case but in some situations I want to explore an area and it's not smart to do so without taking some potentially life/limb saving precautions. Besides, I'm so damn good looking that I can make gaiters a popular sidewalk item, just like the others that wear them!

Shane

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by R3dguitarist » October 24th, 2013, 9:08 pm

Stohlgren wrote:You have responded very maturely to the suggestions given in this thread. Hopefully some of them have curved your thoughts about handling these snakes. I think we can all appreciate your desire to get out and chase down some rattlesnakes, but forget about tubes and I'm sure you will find that you never come across that "last resort" situation. Get a hook to help snakes off a road or if you want to (gently) pose a snake for photos (so long as they are not at a den/gestation/birthing site).

You are more likely to see cool things if you go out with the mentality of observing, rather than screwing with them
Thank you, I appreciate the kind words and the advice. I don't plan on disturbing ANY sites like that, solely snakes out and about by themselves. A den would be a gold mine for me, but strictly photographically speaking. The words from some of the more assertive people have a tendency to reach deaf ears, but those of you kind enough to address the matter in a tactful manner have done a lot to reform my opinions. I don't plan to be touching any for any reason, and I suppose tubes are out of the question then. Thanks again, I really appreciate it!
Shane_TX wrote: A lot of good advice on this thread about not screwing with the ones you see, and some very bad advice from the unexperienced crowd that apparently consider that they see all of the cryptic snakes, the venomous ones don't strike at them, etc.

I wear gaiters when I know that my eyes are weak protection. Not always the case but in some situations I want to explore an area and it's not smart to do so without taking some potentially life/limb saving precautions. Besides, I'm so damn good looking that I can make gaiters a popular sidewalk item, just like the others that wear them!

Shane
Well said, well said. Trust me, I understand the fashion aspect.... I get the most appealing looks when I'm out and about with the greaves on!

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by dthor68 » October 25th, 2013, 2:55 am

Gary wrote:
It does, indeed, and is being produced by a few different manufacturers. I wore a bug suit extensively while working in Guatemala, as I react badly to DEET and without some kind of protection the mosquitoes might well have bled me dry during the wet season. Buy it oversized (it won't help if the mesh is tight against your body) and be warned that it will trap more heat than you expect.
After reading your response I googled "mosquito bodysuit" and found a couple of companies that produce it. Thank you for the heads up. I also have a bad problem with deet. If it makes contact with my skin it causes severe burning, especially on my back. What I have always done is spray it on clothes and use sunscreen on skin. After the sweat starts pouring the deet will seep through the clothing and the burning will start. I have never met anyone yet that has the issues that I have with deet. No doubt that the mosquitos are my #1 concern when snake hunting.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by dthor68 » October 25th, 2013, 5:24 am

R3dguitarist wrote:
To everyone else whom I feel (though you might not have intended to) has come across as belittling or aggressive, I didn't mean to start arguments or create dissension. I simply wanted opinions and to ask about the level of protection leather has to offer. If anything my intentions were to create a discussion on an interesting topic that was far from confrontational, which I feel it has somewhat morphed into. I apologize for warranting such interactions, I was just inquiring on a note of personal interest.
After reading my response I wondered if I came off crass. Believe me I do not think I am too good for any protective gear. If anything this thread has got me thinking that I should get some gaitors. In my 44 years of life and 35 years of snake hunting I have stepped on two snakes, a Garter Snake in the Great Smoky Mountains and a Mole Kingsnake in Laurens Co. SC. The majority of venomous snakes I find are cottonmouths. For some reason the Cottonmouths in SC are not near as aggressive as the ones in TX. I have seen close to 1000 Cottonmouths in SC and they all open their mouths but rarely go further than that.

On 5/29/08 I was on a FR bridge photographing a Black Crowned Night Heron in the swamp. I was using the steel guard rail of the bridge to steady my camera. I noticed some movement near my knee, it was a Cottonmouth! He was coiled between the concrete and guard rail of the bridge and his head was no more than two inches from where my naked knee cap was in my squatting position. It was 11am and 82 degrees. At that point I should have thought that I needed some protection but instead I continued to question why the Cottonmouths in SC are not near as aggressive as the ones in LA. & TX.

What makes me uncomfortable on field trips is people, parasites(internal and external) and feral pigs. In the summer of 2010 I had a pig charge me. I hit it over the head with my tripod, it would trot off and then charge again. This went on several times before I said the hell with it and poked it real hard in the eye. The whole incident was crazy, pigs have always ran away from me. I have no idea of what made this pig so brave but now they worry me.

Regardless, if my response came off as belittling or aggressive I did not mean for it to be. If anything you all can make fun of me for being dumb enough to spend my life outdoors without any protective gear or a gun. You can even claim I am inexperienced, I don't care. The outdoors is my life, its not a competition.

Derek

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by gbin » October 25th, 2013, 2:46 pm

Stohlgren wrote:... After you finish high school, seek out a college where a professor is doing snake research (check out Van's alma mater, Arkansas) and inquire about working or volunteering as an undergraduate assistant. That way you can get proper training in handling them. You just need to be patient. In the end you will do what makes you happy, and we are not trying to take the wind out of your sails, it just makes the snakes look bad when someone gets bit.
What Kevin said above :thumb: - plus we want to see an aspiring herpetologist such as yourself, R3d, develop unimpeded by a setback such as a bite might cause you. Seriously, rest assured that we're not thinking badly of you. If I were doing herp studies in CO and needed help with them, in fact, you're just the kind of person I'd hope to find. Please don't be offended by some of us thinking or saying that you've got a thing or two to learn. All of us do, the old and experienced as well as the young and inexperienced, but there's just no getting around the fact that the younger and less experienced you are the more you have to learn. I recommend enjoying rather than resenting that fact (or the people who raise it).

Not sure why some want to turn the degree of reliance upon venomous snake protective gear into another foolish competition. Apparently some of us think such gear is very important, some think it's only mildly important and some think it's not important at all. Does that really surprise anyone here? Does it really merit trying to put down others because they don't hold the exact same view as oneself? :roll:

Yeah, Derek, DEET feels just like a lit match held against my skin, too. And unfortunately I start sweating at around 65F even without engaging in vigorous activity such as bushwhacking, so treating my clothes rather than my skin doesn't help. That bug suit really saved my butt in Guatemala (and I made good use of it while recreationally herping some of the buggier times and places in FL, too), and I highly recommend them to folks trying to avoid flying insect bites while using little or no chemicals.

Gerry

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » October 31st, 2013, 9:38 pm

Eyes on and hands off is by far the best way to avoid a venomous snakebite.
Nice one!

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by Don Becker » November 1st, 2013, 8:42 am

I think that if you had to ask this question, that you shouldn't be handling the snakes at all.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by muskiemagnet » November 2nd, 2013, 7:01 am

R3dguitarist wrote: I wouldn't be doing anything to harm or severely disturb the snakes; only weight, length (if possible, obviously circumstantial), and some form of identification which would most likely be pictures of unique patterns or pictures of unique deformities such as scarring or kinks, etc. I am interested in this as a personal study because it provides me with a level of information and experience I can't get through a text book or documentary. It isn't necessarily "legitimate" in the scholarly sense, but it's an honest and no-harm-intended, innocent endeavor by an aspiring herpetologist to gather first hand and accurate information regarding a species of key interest. And believe me; I'm by no means selling them short or thinking along the lines of "just a viridis", I've seen first hand what they are capable of.
i'm a bit disappointed that i didn't hear back from the pm i sent you. i'll put it here then. why not aim for legitimacy? i say you should come up with a goal in mind. what do you want to learn about behavior? what is the best approach you can make in order to do this? this should be done with the least amount of handling as possible. gathering growth rate info is pretty much a moot point if you are studying behavior. as i mentioned in the pm, i'm sure there is much info on growth rates that has been already gathered. photo ID is very time consuming and can add an element of uncertainty. if you set it up as an observational study you will not interfere with the natural behaviors of the snakes by constant unnecessary handling. PAINT THE RATTLES. back to the legitimacy thing. once you have a goal in mind, write up a study proposal. submit it to the proper agency within your state. there is a good chance that you will need proper licensing in order to do this anyways. this licensing most likely will be needed if you plan on any invasive procedures such as probing for gender. i highly recommend you determine gender if you want to study behavior. males/females will behave differently. on the upside of this you will make contacts within your state that may prove very helpful. they may be doing or plan to do work that may coincide with what you want to do. they may also offer you support by helping you tweak your proposal in order to make it better. i applaud you for wanting to do this in order to learn. first hand experience is better than any book. the folks within your state DNR can help you. you will learn from them as well.

if this is truly what you want to do for the rest of your life then you may as well start learning the scientific process too. this is why i am suggesting that you contact the DNR. it's winter now. you have some time to put it together and get ready for the spring.

-ben

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by R3dguitarist » November 4th, 2013, 8:38 am

psyon wrote:I think that if you had to ask this question, that you shouldn't be handling the snakes at all.
I just wanted opinions on the effectiveness of gaiters and preferences to brands and whatnot. It was merely a question of preference. No need to be condescending, that's uncalled for.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by R3dguitarist » November 4th, 2013, 8:39 am

gbin wrote:
Stohlgren wrote:... After you finish high school, seek out a college where a professor is doing snake research (check out Van's alma mater, Arkansas) and inquire about working or volunteering as an undergraduate assistant. That way you can get proper training in handling them. You just need to be patient. In the end you will do what makes you happy, and we are not trying to take the wind out of your sails, it just makes the snakes look bad when someone gets bit.
What Kevin said above :thumb: - plus we want to see an aspiring herpetologist such as yourself, R3d, develop unimpeded by a setback such as a bite might cause you. Seriously, rest assured that we're not thinking badly of you. If I were doing herp studies in CO and needed help with them, in fact, you're just the kind of person I'd hope to find. Please don't be offended by some of us thinking or saying that you've got a thing or two to learn. All of us do, the old and experienced as well as the young and inexperienced, but there's just no getting around the fact that the younger and less experienced you are the more you have to learn. I recommend enjoying rather than resenting that fact (or the people who raise it).

Not sure why some want to turn the degree of reliance upon venomous snake protective gear into another foolish competition. Apparently some of us think such gear is very important, some think it's only mildly important and some think it's not important at all. Does that really surprise anyone here? Does it really merit trying to put down others because they don't hold the exact same view as oneself? :roll:

Yeah, Derek, DEET feels just like a lit match held against my skin, too. And unfortunately I start sweating at around 65F even without engaging in vigorous activity such as bushwhacking, so treating my clothes rather than my skin doesn't help. That bug suit really saved my butt in Guatemala (and I made good use of it while recreationally herping some of the buggier times and places in FL, too), and I highly recommend them to folks trying to avoid flying insect bites while using little or no chemicals.

Gerry

Thanks :D I appreciate that!

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by Don Becker » November 5th, 2013, 7:01 am

R3dguitarist wrote:I just wanted opinions on the effectiveness of gaiters and preferences to brands and whatnot. It was merely a question of preference. No need to be condescending, that's uncalled for.
You are basing your safety, and possibly risking your life, based on the opinions of random people on the internet.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by Fundad » November 5th, 2013, 7:28 am

Chris Harrison Wrote
I would say getting gaiters or thick leather to protect your legs is a waste of money. You aren't going to be bit by stepping on a rattlesnake, you are going to get bit handling one. The bite is going to be on your hands or arms, not your leg.
I have been bitten in the leg by accidentally stepping on a rattlesnake, the rattlesnake fang missed my leg but became entangled in my jeans. It was a scary 2 minutes as I tried to escape without suffering a bite. I was fortunate.

Brian Hubbs had his step son bitten in the ankle while wearing tennis shoes..

I ALWAYS wear snake boots in rattlesnake country, where there is heavy ground cover, I can't afford to lose my legs. 30+ years experience in the field has taught me new things happen all the time, and its better to be safe than sorry.

MY Two Cents
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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by R3dguitarist » November 5th, 2013, 8:45 am

psyon wrote:
R3dguitarist wrote:I just wanted opinions on the effectiveness of gaiters and preferences to brands and whatnot. It was merely a question of preference. No need to be condescending, that's uncalled for.
You are basing your safety, and possibly risking your life, based on the opinions of random people on the internet.
I never said I was going to accept their opinion, I just wanted to fuel a discussion.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by Don Becker » November 5th, 2013, 9:53 am

R3dguitarist wrote:I never said I was going to accept their opinion, I just wanted to fuel a discussion.
I don't buy it.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by R3dguitarist » November 5th, 2013, 1:47 pm

psyon wrote:
R3dguitarist wrote:I never said I was going to accept their opinion, I just wanted to fuel a discussion.
I don't buy it.
There is no need to be belittling, it's people like you who drive otherwise excited and potentially fantastic members of the herping society away with such negative comments. Just think, the people you are tearing down could one day make one of the biggest discoveries in modern science. I just wanted to hear what other people thought for curiosity and discussion's sake; I already know what my own beliefs are. If you have nothing beneficial to add, and you only derive pleasure in wasting peoples time with pointless harassing comments, then please just leave the thread.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by Don Becker » November 5th, 2013, 6:36 pm

I am not belittling you. I am giving criticism of what you are doing. You should be able to take criticism and learn from it, rather than becoming completely defensive about it. Look at how many people have already suggested that you not handle the snakes at all. These are not just random people who find snakes, they are people who work with herps for a living, yet you are most likely going to completely dismiss any suggestion they give you to NOT handle the rattlesnakes, because well, you have a strong fascination and really want to hit it hard this year. Keep in mind that there are people here who's respect can take you a long way. Starting off by disregarding their advice on handling snakes is probably not a good first impression.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by R3dguitarist » November 5th, 2013, 11:05 pm

psyon wrote:I am not belittling you. I am giving criticism of what you are doing. You should be able to take criticism and learn from it, rather than becoming completely defensive about it. Look at how many people have already suggested that you not handle the snakes at all. These are not just random people who find snakes, they are people who work with herps for a living, yet you are most likely going to completely dismiss any suggestion they give you to NOT handle the rattlesnakes, because well, you have a strong fascination and really want to hit it hard this year. Keep in mind that there are people here who's respect can take you a long way. Starting off by disregarding their advice on handling snakes is probably not a good first impression.
I've mentioned numerous times that I don't plan on handling the snakes, and I will gladly take constructive criticism but right off the bad your first comment was rude not critiquing.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by gbin » November 6th, 2013, 4:58 am

R3dguitarist wrote:I've mentioned numerous times that I don't plan on handling the snakes...
I suppose one could argue that hooking snakes isn't handling them, though others (including myself) would argue to the contrary; at least if you're careful a hook will put some distance between you and the animal. I don't understand how anyone could assert that tubing snakes isn't handling them.

In my opinion, the best contribution to this thread remains Van's paraphrased Beaupre and Greene advice:
1) Distance: Its simple, if you're out of the snake's strike range, they can't bite you. The key of this rule is- no tailing, no necking, and no picking up with gloves. All three fundamentally place you inside the snake's strike range.

2) Equipment- The goal of handling equipment is to facilitate distance. You can handle venomous snakes using hooks/tongs to keep them out of distance of your body. Make sure you use handling equipment that will not fail. Examples of failure-prone equipment include collapsible tools (though midwest makes some really good tongs these days) and welding gloves. Make sure the equipment is also safe for the animal. Restraining equipment (tubes, squeeze boxes) place physical barriers between you and the snake's head, but should be only used if absolutely necessary and should be checked for potential failure points. Buckets and boxes are the only acceptable transportation devices simply because snakes can't bite through them.

3) Attention: Always pay attention to the snake you are handling. Never move it within strike range of yourself or another person. Handling and restraint tools only work as well as the idiot using them.
Gerry

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by Don Becker » November 6th, 2013, 6:04 am

R3dguitarist wrote:right off the bad your first comment was rude not critiquing.
Criticism can be rude. I never claimed I was being nice. I only said I wasn't belittling you.

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Re: Rattlesnake protective gear, thoughts and opinions?

Post by azatrox » November 6th, 2013, 9:28 am

why not aim for legitimacy? i say you should come up with a goal in mind. what do you want to learn about behavior? what is the best approach you can make in order to do this? this should be done with the least amount of handling as possible. gathering growth rate info is pretty much a moot point if you are studying behavior. as i mentioned in the pm, i'm sure there is much info on growth rates that has been already gathered. photo ID is very time consuming and can add an element of uncertainty. if you set it up as an observational study you will not interfere with the natural behaviors of the snakes by constant unnecessary handling. PAINT THE RATTLES. back to the legitimacy thing. once you have a goal in mind, write up a study proposal. submit it to the proper agency within your state. there is a good chance that you will need proper licensing in order to do this anyways. this licensing most likely will be needed if you plan on any invasive procedures such as probing for gender. i highly recommend you determine gender if you want to study behavior. males/females will behave differently. on the upside of this you will make contacts within your state that may prove very helpful. they may be doing or plan to do work that may coincide with what you want to do. they may also offer you support by helping you tweak your proposal in order to make it better. i applaud you for wanting to do this in order to learn. first hand experience is better than any book. the folks within your state DNR can help you. you will learn from them as well.

if this is truly what you want to do for the rest of your life then you may as well start learning the scientific process too. this is why i am suggesting that you contact the DNR. it's winter now. you have some time to put it together and get ready for the spring.

-ben


Take a moment and read this again...this is perhaps the most useful post thus far in this thread...If you envision yourself weighing, sexing, tubing, etc. then there are very real, legal considerations in many states for these activities that must be adhered to. Best to consult with the CO game and fish dept. (or equivalent agency up there) before making any grand plans for non-institutional research. That said, this post goes a step further by giving you a viable gameplan to go about networking and seeking assistance....this will be tremendously helpful in the future if you think your endeavors may turn into a career.

Props to Ben for taking the time to write such a helpful post...

As for the rest of the thread, I haven't much to say except that one cannot seek to elicit conversation in a public (world wide) forum and reasonably expect answers/responses that they like from all who choose to participate.

-Kris

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