New to the Forum! Tips for getting started in herping

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dp_wild
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Joined: December 17th, 2019, 4:26 pm

New to the Forum! Tips for getting started in herping

Post by dp_wild »

Hello everyone. My name is Deric and I am based in Southern California, Riverside County. I am new to the community and thought I would create this thread to introduce myself.

I have always loved wildlife but in particular I have had a special afinity towards herps. However I don't have really any experience in field herping besides just going out on hikes and trying to id what I find hiking (I do try to be aware about what species are in the area before I go though field guides and the internet).

However I would like to get more serious about it. I read the pinned post about being new to herping and know I need to get better at being educated about the specific habitats. But does anyone have other advice on getting started (general tips, gear, other)? Do I just started turning over rocks?

I don't really know anyone to go out with. So my only partner would be my wife on occasion.

I am excited to be apart of the community!

And here are a couple pictures of two different California Ebony Tarantulas I took this year
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LouB747
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Re: New to the Forum! Tips for getting started in herping

Post by LouB747 »

March is typically the best month to flip snakes under rocks, at least in my experience. You can road cruise the deserts May and June. I have some herp vids on my channel you might like. A whole “California Snakes” section that is all field herping. LouB747 on YouTube.

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jonathan
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Re: New to the Forum! Tips for getting started in herping

Post by jonathan »

* Read a lot, especially herper accounts and scientific papers (field guides are somewhat less useful for actually finding herps). Just to contradict that point, californiaherps.com can be extremely helpful for understanding the exact habits and habitats of various herps

* Go out on trips with more experienced herpers

* Spend a lot of time in the field trying out different stuff on your own


Repeat the three above points a lot and your skills will improve rapidly. I was a "casual herper" until the age of 26, and the difference between before I started talking to other herpers and after was extraordinary.

Also, don't believe anything you see in pictures because they're all posed lol. Can't tell you how much time I wasted looking for herps in the sorts of places I saw herps posed in pretty pictures.

dp_wild
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Joined: December 17th, 2019, 4:26 pm

Re: New to the Forum! Tips for getting started in herping

Post by dp_wild »

Awesome thanks for the response. Do you have any tips for connecting with local herpers that will take me out with them. I don't really know any. I am concerned I will come off like I am just wanted to steal their spots. which is not the case.

dp_wild
Posts: 6
Joined: December 17th, 2019, 4:26 pm

Re: New to the Forum! Tips for getting started in herping

Post by dp_wild »

jonathan wrote:
January 1st, 2020, 11:46 pm
* Read a lot, especially herper accounts and scientific papers (field guides are somewhat less useful for actually finding herps). Just to contradict that point, californiaherps.com can be extremely helpful for understanding the exact habits and habitats of various herps

* Go out on trips with more experienced herpers

* Spend a lot of time in the field trying out different stuff on your own


Repeat the three above points a lot and your skills will improve rapidly. I was a "casual herper" until the age of 26, and the difference between before I started talking to other herpers and after was extraordinary.

Also, don't believe anything you see in pictures because they're all posed lol. Can't tell you how much time I wasted looking for herps in the sorts of places I saw herps posed in pretty pictures.
Awesome thanks for the response. Do you have any tips for connecting with local herpers that will take me out with them? I don't really know any. I am concerned I will come off like I am just wanted to steal their spots. which is not the case.

dp_wild
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Joined: December 17th, 2019, 4:26 pm

Re: New to the Forum! Tips for getting started in herping

Post by dp_wild »

LouB747 wrote:
December 28th, 2019, 8:40 pm
March is typically the best month to flip snakes under rocks, at least in my experience. You can road cruise the deserts May and June. I have some herp vids on my channel you might like. A whole “California Snakes” section that is all field herping. LouB747 on YouTube.
Thanks for the feedback. I will definitely check your youtube channel out.

Jimi
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Re: New to the Forum! Tips for getting started in herping

Post by Jimi »

Flip right, if you're gonna flip. Don't flip like a bear, don't flip like a hog, don't flip like a monkey. Flip like an ethical herper. Put the object - or the pile of objects - back so that you can't even tell it's been flipped or otherwise messed with. If it's a huge rock on a steep slope, and you can't put it back, think twice. Maybe you should just leave it. NEVER huck a slab off a boulder and leave it on the ground. Put it back where it came from. Same thing as before - if you can't get it back where it came from, don't mess with it in the first place.

SoCal is a crowded place with diminishing open area. Bad herper behavior degrades our social license with "normal people" to do our thing. Bad herper behavior causes serious heartburn with other herpers. If you can't behave right, prepare to be an outcast. Since you're saying "hi" it seems like you'd rather have company. There are several other aspects of herping that make it "good" or "bad" herping. But flipping is a fine place to start learning.

This is meant as friendly, helpful advice. Please take it as such.

Take care with your hands and feet - there's plenty of rattlesnakes where you are, and some of them are fairly exceptionally dangerous given their size, demeanor, density on the landscape, and venom composition.

Good hunting!

dp_wild
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Joined: December 17th, 2019, 4:26 pm

Re: New to the Forum! Tips for getting started in herping

Post by dp_wild »

Jimi wrote:
January 3rd, 2020, 1:08 pm
Flip right, if you're gonna flip. Don't flip like a bear, don't flip like a hog, don't flip like a monkey. Flip like an ethical herper. Put the object - or the pile of objects - back so that you can't even tell it's been flipped or otherwise messed with. If it's a huge rock on a steep slope, and you can't put it back, think twice. Maybe you should just leave it. NEVER huck a slab off a boulder and leave it on the ground. Put it back where it came from. Same thing as before - if you can't get it back where it came from, don't mess with it in the first place.

SoCal is a crowded place with diminishing open area. Bad herper behavior degrades our social license with "normal people" to do our thing. Bad herper behavior causes serious heartburn with other herpers. If you can't behave right, prepare to be an outcast. Since you're saying "hi" it seems like you'd rather have company. There are several other aspects of herping that make it "good" or "bad" herping. But flipping is a fine place to start learning.

This is meant as friendly, helpful advice. Please take it as such.

Take care with your hands and feet - there's plenty of rattlesnakes where you are, and some of them are fairly exceptionally dangerous given their size, demeanor, density on the landscape, and venom composition.

Good hunting!
Thanks for the response and the cander! That is alot of where my hesitancy in regards to just getting out ther.. I feel wierd flipping because I want to disturb the environment as little as possible, but when I do I will definitely take care.

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jonathan
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Re: New to the Forum! Tips for getting started in herping

Post by jonathan »

dp_wild wrote:
January 2nd, 2020, 4:57 pm
Awesome thanks for the response. Do you have any tips for connecting with local herpers that will take me out with them? I don't really know any. I am concerned I will come off like I am just wanted to steal their spots. which is not the case.
100% of my connections came through this forum and NAFHA/NAHERP events. I participated in discussions here, talked to people, got invited to group trips, made friends, and then we scheduled private outings. Unfortunately NAFHA/NAHERP has deceased in activity but the model of meeting people online and looking for group events is probably the way to go. Search online and try to find any herp groups that have physical meetings or outings in your broader area.

Jimi
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Re: New to the Forum! Tips for getting started in herping

Post by Jimi »

100% of my connections came through this forum and NAFHA/NAHERP events. I participated in discussions here, talked to people, got invited to group trips, made friends, and then we scheduled private outings. Unfortunately NAFHA/NAHERP has deceased in activity but the model of meeting people online and looking for group events is probably the way to go. Search online and try to find any herp groups that have physical meetings or outings in your broader area.
This seems like good advice for someone getting started in 2020. Definitely keep it in mind.

As a counter-balance or a bit of flavor, I offer these thoughts too:
  • Interacting with people influences a person. Don't hang with dirtbags. Don't pick up dirtbag habits.
  • There are also activities that aren't "dirtbag", but they just won't be your cup of tea. Like maybe taking a long time getting pictures. Or stopping to look at the flowers and bugs too. Whatever - different strokes for different folks. Point is, hopefully you'll find your "steady buddies" that you can actually tolerate in substantial doses. Other people have to be taken in smaller doses. That's good too, you will learn things (good and bad...), so don't avoid new people, just, uh, watch yourself.
  • One guy flipping a hill has a certain look afterwards. Put six guys on it, and the hill might look different. Nothing wrong with six guys working a hill together, but...small groups are lower-impact.
  • People are mostly gonna show you "known areas" or "sacrifice sites" - most people aren't going to take you to their honey holes. Those, you mostly need to find on your own, or with other people who are also into exploring and testing new places.
  • Sometimes you're gonna have a day or a weekend or two hours, and - with experience - you will recognize conditions are perfect for something. And nobody will be available. JUST GO. Never pass up a chance to go herping because there's nobody to go with. Just be careful, in all ways. Driving, flipping, walking through tall grass, kneeling in front of rockpiles, everything. You'll gain confidence with experience, just don't get complacent. Nobody wakes up and thinks, "today I'm gonna get f*cked up bad", but it happens sometimes. Manage the odds downward.
Something to chew on.

Rejoice! It's SoCal salamander season! Ha ha.

Good hunting.

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jonathan
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Re: New to the Forum! Tips for getting started in herping

Post by jonathan »

Oh, I myself do the VAST majority of my herping alone. I could literally list out every time I've ever herped with another herper. But I did learn a ton from those times especially at the beginning when I didn't even know what "flipping a hill" was, and he was asking specifically how to find people.

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Mike VanValen
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Re: New to the Forum! Tips for getting started in herping

Post by Mike VanValen »

Get familiar with maps of your area. Scrutinize roads that go through and along forests and wetlands. Scrutinize dirt roads and go visit places that look promising. (Be aware of private property). Understand weather and vegetation and how a junk pile can be your best friend. Get The Field Herping Guide by Pingleton and Holbrook, and keep asking questions. Good luck.

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