tips for begginers...

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mikal
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tips for begginers...

Post by mikal » March 15th, 2011, 9:24 pm

i've studied snakes and about 3 or four years, i'm 16, i've always wanted to go field herping but i never had the equipment. i bought a hook and 4' tongs, ive kept snakes as pets for 10 years and know what to look for, but is their anything i should know about field herping? im located in northeastern oklahoma.

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Natalie McNear
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Re: tips for begginers...

Post by Natalie McNear » March 15th, 2011, 9:27 pm

Google Earth will be your best friend.

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Antonsrkn
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Re: tips for begginers...

Post by Antonsrkn » March 15th, 2011, 11:45 pm

Just because you have a hook and tongs doesn't mean you should use them especially without proper guidance, its not hard for someone inexperienced to kill or injure a nervous snake with tongs. Make sure to leave the habitat as you found it (put cover back after you flip it).

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Serpentes
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Re: tips for begginers...

Post by Serpentes » March 16th, 2011, 3:16 am

Antonsrkn wrote:Just because you have a hook and tongs doesn't mean you should use them especially without proper guidance, its not hard for someone inexperienced to kill or injure a nervous snake with tongs. Make sure to leave the habitat as you found it (put cover back after you flip it).
Good advice Antonsrkn.

Also, just go out into the wilderness and start looking! You can start in the nearest undeveloped area and see if anything is hiding there. Good luck!

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DaneConley
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Re: tips for begginers...

Post by DaneConley » March 16th, 2011, 3:41 am

Become friends with people who own land. Then you can ask if you can put AC

Paul White
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Re: tips for begginers...

Post by Paul White » March 16th, 2011, 5:45 am

expect to spend at least one season just learning when to go out.
New moons are good. Rain is good (particularly in late spring or summer when it gets warm).

millside
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Re: tips for begginers...

Post by millside » March 16th, 2011, 9:14 am

best advice,
try to go to one of your regions Nafha outings, best place to learn
get some field guides for your region, learn the species and habitats of your region,

put the hooks and tongs away for a couple years, kind of like driving your first car, no matter what you do, you are going to have a fender bender sooner or later when you first learn to drive,
so use that scenario with your hooks, :beer:

mikal
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Re: tips for begginers...

Post by mikal » March 16th, 2011, 11:36 am

thank you guys for the advice! the places i would start looking are around the lakes and a few nature tails by the river. i agree with the hook and tong advice, ive had some practice with my own snakes, but accidents always happen.

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Mike VanValen
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Re: tips for begginers...

Post by Mike VanValen » March 16th, 2011, 3:12 pm

Become familiar with the species in your area AND their habitat requirements.

Keep reading. And I don't mean the forums.

Be aware of the laws in your state/city.

DO NOT think a hook or tongs will make it safer to handle a venomous species.

This is a good one, too :
Natalie McNear wrote:Google Earth will be your best friend.

stlouisdude
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Re: tips for begginers...

Post by stlouisdude » March 16th, 2011, 6:00 pm

In some places you may not want to carry a snake hook, which is fine, as you don't truly need them to simply observe venomous. Chances are if you see a venomous snake in a crevice, it will be found out earlier or later in the day. Usually what I have done is simply came back when they are most likely to be out... to get some sun after a rain or early morning, for example. I learned to check around my junkpiles for copperheads around 8:30pm during the summer. This also teaches you something about their habits.

The tools I consider essential:
Google Earth: Take screen shots, open them with image editing software and circle things and put notes. Write in the gps coords of various features you wish to visit.

Handheld GPS: Do some research on models, sometimes cheapies can be pretty good. You will need this to quickly locate the spots from above and get back to the truck.

Don't try lifting things that are just going to slip and crush whatever is under there. Come back with additional people if it really needs to be checked. Ripping up logs and such will make others think twice about sharing spots with you.

Don't be afraid to approach all sorts of people who might be able to assist in both learning and actual finds. Sometimes help comes from the least likely of places and don't take it personal if someone snubs you. Some people are just grumps and often protection of the animals is not the reason for it, even if the cited one.. "if only we could get fewer people to like reptiles!"

I would highly recommend getting access to a University library so you can (inexpensively) do some reading on species you are interested in. Even articles from two states away have proven invaluable in helping to determine the proper search conditions. For example, how much rain would it take for X species to be out on the roads? It may not fit your situation exactly, but at least it gives you something to go on.

Then you'll need BSing skills to access parks after hours, private property, and gain permission to use the methods that are most effective in a given situation. KentuckyPhil and B Hubbs both have books that explain that stuff and more, I'm sure you can find reviews on this site. Reptiles and Amphibians of the smokies is a nice little book by Tilly, too. I'd pick it up, I'm pretty sure it has some tips about searching for salamanders in it, although I don't remember the exact details.

Basically, any skill useful in life can be applied to field herping. Photography skills, computer skills, people skills, navigation skills, wilderness skills, research methods, and so on.

Good luck and look forward to seeing what you find out there.

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jonathan
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Re: tips for begginers...

Post by jonathan » March 17th, 2011, 10:21 am

Almost any time is a good time to go out - you just have to know what to look for under those conditions. And almost any place is a good place to find herps - you just have to be content with what you'll find there. The learning process involves figuring out what you'll be able to get and how you'll get it at any particular place and time. But herp all the time, everywhere - you'll learn the most that way. I've made significant finds under pieces of concrete in tiny strips of habitat in major urban cities (Baltimore, Los Angeles, Bangkok, etc.).

Learn herping ethics. Fast. Most of all, learn how to keep habitat pristine, inflict the least stress possible on the animals you find, follow the law, and respect fellow herpers.

Figure out how to do something meaningful with your hobby. Whether that's educating others about herps, working towards conservation, contributing to the academic study of herpetology, or just taking other people out to enjoy nature, it really adds a ton to the experience when you learn to add something beyond personal satisfaction to your hobby. Plus, it's good for your health: http://slatest.slate.com/id/2288353/

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Mulebrother
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Re: tips for begginers...

Post by Mulebrother » March 17th, 2011, 7:02 pm

Go to herpsofarkansas.com
Cruise the forums...
Look for a guy named josh aka "okieherper"
He lives up in your neck of the woods..he'd be a good guy to get to know.
Just dont tell him I sent you. :lol:

Good luck, be safe.

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Mike Pingleton
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Re: tips for begginers...

Post by Mike Pingleton » March 18th, 2011, 7:35 am

Looks like you found the south central chapter forum, so that's good. You may be able to find some other herpers in the area.

OK has some great herps and herping. Don't forget a camera! I wish, I wish, oh how I wish I had a camera when I first started out back in mumble mumble.

Trash piles and old farm buildings can be great places to herp. If they're on private property, make sure you ask permission when possible. Most folks are pretty good about it if you explain what you're doing - I can count on one hand the number of times I've been refused in four decades. Watch out for nails!

If you've got your license, try to get some road cruising in. Try two-lane roads out in the boonies without much traffic on them, at dusk and later. Your personal safety is paramount, so make sure you can pull off on the shoulder when you spot a herp, and not put yourself and other drivers in harm's way.

On a final note, always check behind gas stations. I can't tell you how many herps I've found behind gas stations.

-Mike

Western Pigmy Rattler, road-cruised in east central OK last year:
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Paul White
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Re: tips for begginers...

Post by Paul White » March 18th, 2011, 7:51 am

OK has some great herps and herping. Don't forget a camera! I wish, I wish, oh how I wish I had a camera when I first started out back in mumble mumble.
QFT. how many animals i've seen and didnt' photograph :cry: :cry:
The flip side is not to beat yourself up if one vanishes before you can get a shot off


even if it's a near lifer that you've only seen once before th at's barely documented in your region and you get a handful of prickly pear trying to position yourself for the shot *grumble grumble*

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Bryan_Hughes
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Re: tips for begginers...

Post by Bryan_Hughes » March 19th, 2011, 8:01 am

The places they're NOT are often just as important to take note of as the places they ARE. If you want to learn quickly, I'd advise buying a new pair of boots with the goal of wearing the soles through by the end of summer ... you'll see stuff.

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Dan Krull
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Re: tips for begginers...

Post by Dan Krull » March 19th, 2011, 9:04 am

Without reading what everyone else posted: I think you need a herping mentor. Find someone locally who can teach you the ropes. Barring that, start slow. Observe, photograph and don't handle too much. Particularly venomous. No need to jump in head first. You're in a wonderful place! So much to see from sallies to snakes.

I loved looking, but had little luck and made a lot of mistakes until I met Roy Engeldorf. He took me on one trip, and I had a basis to work from. Once I had seen it done right, I knew what I was shooting for and tried to emulate it.

Road cruising was the same way. I tried it on my own with no guidance and had some success, but when I saw it done by an experienced road cruiser, it was very eye opening.

Good Luck!

Dan

Travis_W_Taggart
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Re: tips for begginers...

Post by Travis_W_Taggart » March 25th, 2011, 1:07 pm

Attend the Kansas Herpetological Society spring field trip in Chautauqua County (SE Kansas on the OK border); 9-10 April... you'll learn more than enough to get started.
http://cnah.org/khs/FieldTripSpringInfo.html

We'll be turning rocks on two ranches during the mornings and setting/checking turtle traps/seining on Saturday afternoon.

Kingsnake, Rat Snakes, Alligator Snapping Turtles, Timber Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, Worm Snakes, and Crawfish Frogs are a few of the many species we hope to find.

Everyone is welcome to attend.

- Travis

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