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 Post subject: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 6:50 am 
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Joined: June 27th, 2010, 12:27 pm
Posts: 963
Location: Terlingua / Marfa, Texas
SECOND EDIT: I'm amending my intro to this thread. I should have done so as soon as I realized that it offended a fellow forum member. I did not expect or intend for my comments to be offensive to anyone. Revised comments in green

EDIT for clarity: I'm not really asking about "credentials". I'm sarcastically shunning that concept while sharing and asking others to share some personal history about how they became field herpers. Keep it fun and friendly. We can debate, argue, or even outright fight in other threads about more serious topics.

Some of you may have been following the "Herp Related Conservation Organizations" thread over on the Boardline. It has been an interesting discussion that, as often happens here, has spun way of topic. Some of the off-topic discussion revolved around credentials. I don't really have any official credentials and believe that the more important issue in a diverse community such as FHF members is our mutual interest in herps and how it developed. I hope most of you will agree that our common interests in herps is at least as important as our individual credentials or accomplishments.

A fellow member asked in that other thread, "Are any of you going to take me up on my invitation to share some biographical information about yourselves, in this thread or another? I hope so!" I thought it was a worthy question, so I started this thread to share a little about myself and invite others to do the same.


I was about seven when I caught a Rough Earth Snake outside of our family's church in San Antonio. I thought it was interesting. When my older brothers were interested and my mom totally freaked out I realized it was SUPER COOL. My parents insisted that I release it. Too late though, I'd been infected by Herps (not to be confused with herpes).

To my parent's great delight, I became obsessed with going to the library and church. The library for snake related books and church because that was were I found my first snake and I soon discovered that lots of them could be found under the rocks and other cover around the church grounds. My folks decided to encourage my interest in snakes as a vehicle for encouraging my interests in study and church attendance. I became best friends with Brian Blake (man, I'd REALLY love to locate and get back in touch with him). He had a great collection of snakes and we roamed all around San Antonio looking for more. We also spent LOTS of time and effort getting into trouble. Somehow, we only got caught by his folks. Especially in one bad incident right before I moved away. I left town and left Brian holding the bag and bearing full punishment for some juvenile delinquency that I had instigated. That was thirty-five years ago. I think he's still grounded. Sorry Brian.

Before I moved away (and before I got him in serious trouble), Brian introduced me to Joe Forks. He was about 18 (guessing) at the time and had an amazing (especially to my young eyes) collection. When Brian first took me to Joe's house, Joe was just returning from south Texas on his motorcycle with a freshly caught Mexican Milksnake. I was like a preteen girl being introduced to Justin Bieber (wonder how Forks will feel about being compared to Bieber). Hated that I had to move shortly afterward. I'm sure I could have taught Joe all about snakes if I could have stayed in San Antonio. Sorry Joe.

At thirteen, my family moved from San Antonio to DeSoto Texas (a Dallas suburb). Since we did not have enough furniture to fill the new home, I laid claim to what should have been my mom's formal dining room. In short order, I filled it with dozens of cages full of all sorts of herps. Sorry Mom.

I became known as "Snake Man" (bet many of you did too) and became best friends with Jimmy Forester when he moved to DeSoto the following year. We roamed all over DeSoto, Cedar Hill, and surrounding areas. We found and collected all the local varieties of herps. Jimmy was amazing and always made herping (or anything) a wild and amusing adventure. He eventually went on a museum collection trip with David Barker through northern Mexico and the southwest. He came back some amazing animals. He also found some very interesting ways to acquire other exotic snakes that his folks forbid him to keep. Many of his acquisitions found their way into my collection when the heat from his parents (and the heat in his secret snake room in the attic) became too high. Jimmy passed away 11/25/06 in a tragic rock climbing accident in Mexico. I'm now the keeper of his field herping journals and often spend time reading through his old notes. Hopefully, I'll do a better job of preserving his records than I did with preserving the animals he entrusted to my care. Sorry Jimmy.

In the 90's, I eventually grew tired of keeping captive animals. It took awhile, but I realized that I really suck and captive husbandry and that snake s--t stinks. To my wife Janet's delight, I stopped keeping animals and basically dropped out of herping. In 2004 my family gave into my desires and we moved to Terlingua Ranch in the Big Bend Region of SW Texas. I had fallen in love with this land back when I was salivating over the amazing snakes that call this place home. After living here a few years, I was reinfected with "herping" (again, NOT to be confused with herpes -I've never had enough adventure to catch that). When I stumbled upon Field Herp Forum, the infection became chronic. Surfing around FHF showed me what field herping was REALLY all about. I FINALLY realized that I could collect photos instead of animals and I could share my finds and opinions on the internet. I could pursue the thing I loved most about herping (the search and the moment of discovery), without the smelly cages. I soon became an active FHF member and have been wasting other herpers time ever since. Sorry FHF.

As my boys grew, they too became infected with herping. Since boys will be boys, they wanted captives of their own. I recognized the value of young learners being able to keep and care for a few animals, so I allowed it. Josh now has a Regal Ringneck and a Mexican Hognose. Zack has a New Mexican Milksnake and a Desert Kingsnake. I've also decided to start working toward giving occasional "snake talks" and decided to supplement my boy's collection with a few other notable local herps. I now possess a Sonora Gophersnake and plan to add a Trans-Pecos Ratsnake and Gray-Banded Kingsnake. Sorry Janet.

So, you see, I have NO CREDENTIALS. Just a love for herps, the good luck to have known some amazing people, and the good fortune to live in a place called home by some of the best herps in the US. Formal education, training, and professional job titles are great, but they are not needed to be a herper or a member here. All you need is a love and respect for reptiles and amphibians (even those slimy little salamander thingies qualify). Learn and share to your heart's content. You'll be welcome (even if occasionally abused) here. If you have an opinion or comment about herps, herping, herp studies, herp conservation, or anything of the sort, share it. If it is accepted and embraced, great. If it is challenged or ridiculed, that can be even better. Don't be intimidated or offended. Think it over and RESPOND. Debate, argue and convince. Or perhaps, review, reconsider and concede. Either way, we all win by learning more. Learning about herps. Learning about others. Learning about ourselves. I learn more when I'm proven wrong and that happens with such great frequency that I must be a freaking genius by now. Hey! Maybe that is my credential. I've lost more debates on FHF than anyone (and learned and grown every single time). Woo hoo!

Did I say this would be short? Oops. I was wrong again. Sorry readers.

Now, get even with me by wasting my time with a short (or long) accounting of your "credentials". No need to impress me. I'm already impressed.


Last edited by Daryl Eby on July 17th, 2012, 8:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 7:16 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:21 am
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Location: Iowa
I have absolutely no credentials at all. I am a high school drop out, and I am self taught in everything I do.


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 7:18 am 
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Joined: June 27th, 2010, 12:27 pm
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Location: Terlingua / Marfa, Texas
psyon wrote:
I am self taught in everything I do.

At least you've had the benefit of a great teacher!


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 7:40 am 

Joined: August 19th, 2010, 6:58 am
Posts: 105
Location: Berks County, PA
I started to read that thread but then, well, there weren't any pictures or anything so...

Just kidding. I have no credentials to speak of other than enjoying nature. What even counts as "credentials" anyway? Maybe I DO have some!


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 7:40 am 
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Joined: May 14th, 2012, 10:23 am
Posts: 142
Location: Leander, TX
Ok, I’ll play.

As Daryl said, it all started with a rough earth snake. This, I am guessing, is a typical trend among Texas herpers?

I moved to Georgetown, TX from Austin and life as I, and my family, knew it changed forever. I was out on my back patio, familiarizing myself with our new house. Something I noticed was a little green plastic thing underneath the spout of the rain gutter. (As far as I can remember, our previous house didn’t have one.) So, I decided I would inspect, and lifted it up. Underneath was 4 Rough Earths. I kept two for a few weeks, until I realized I had 0 idea what they ate, and for some reason my school library had nothing significant on reptiles, and we knew nothing of the public library yet. I released them, and for the next several years, found hundreds of them in the same area, as well as Mediterranean geckos.

Once I entered middle school, I began to have a larger radius of freedom around my neighborhood. Between my home and my school, there was a small patch of wooded area, full of rocks. I figured, what the hell, if there are snakes underneath the drain pan for the gutter, why not rocks? First up was a plains blind snake. I thought it was a worm, just really different looking from the rest. I replaced it without second thought, assuming I had simply found a worm species new to me. Not much else turned up in the area, until my first Texas Ratsnake. Despite his best efforts to deter my interest in reptiles (and believe me, he tried HARD) I spent a good amount of time playing with him. I knew enough to know he wasn’t a rattlesnake, and since I saw no sign of fangs as he gaped at me angrily for who knows how long, I figured he was safe.

Until High School, this continued. Same species, over and over, until I met a guy named Joe. He was also an Austin transplant, and due to wearing shirts from the same band one day in Auto class, we soon found out someone other than us had an interest in reptiles. The next day, he brought a juvenile TX rat to school in a crown royal bag. Finally I began to learn the names of these animals. From then on, I piled on the books from Barnes & Noble, and upon *not* graduating HS, kept my biology book. They have enough, right? By this point, I was familiar with a much wider variety of animals, Reptiles, Arachnids, Mammals. Reptiles always remained my #1.

I had always collected a few here and there, but most of my “collection” was Captive Bred, and not so much wild caught. I have used my love for reptiles, and all other animals, in the Wildlife Management field, as well as the usual call saying “Hey, so-and-so told me you like snakes. Want to come get this one off my porch so I can get out of my house?!”

This year, I discovered FHF. Thanks to never losing my interest in herps, and never giving up any opportunity to herp, I had no need to rekindle my passion. However, seeing all the amazing pictures from areas I have yet to herp (Damn you, Texas, for being so large!) has only added fuel to the fire. And, as warned, has forced me to begin saving for some expensive camera that I’m sure I will never figure out what half the buttons do, but the picture quality destroys that of my 3.1megapixel phone. I guess that’s ok for now, though. That .1 megapixel changes a lot!....

Oh yeah, and last year I moved to this 5,000Acre ranch in the middle of Texas. I am in herp heaven. Not a day goes by that I don’t venture out somewhere here to find something. Anything.


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 7:50 am 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1039
Quote:
I was about seven when I caught a Rough Earth Snake outside of our family's church in San Antonio.


Cool. Mine was a rough green snake. (Aren't harmless snakes great! Ha ha.) Mom and I were walking out to the mailbox across Maybank Highway. Long unpaved sand/grass driveway with honeysuckle, wisteria, etc vines along it. John's Island, South Carolina. God, that used to be so pretty. I thought it was heaven.

There's a self-storage business there now, on that 2-acre lot. We sold out. So now people are storing there all the shit they obviously don't need, can't even bother to make space for at home. Maybe all that stuff makes them happy. I don't know. Mom used the money for a retirement condo closer to her kids. Well, one of them, ha ha. Life is full of tradeoffs and compromises and split-the-differences.

Anyway, I must have been about 4 or 5 - it was before I started kindergarten. Mom was not so happy about it - a born and bred local - but...very accommodating. She let me keep that green snake about 3 days, then made me turn it loose. I'm very happy I didn't kill that animal.

From there, to classes at the Charleston Museum (the old one that burned down), to a long series of bedrooms and sheds full of snakes (eventually, hot ones, nothing but), road trips to FL, AZ, TX, the "No-jave", and on and on. Anyway...here I am.

The very idea of credentials among us is absurd. Credentials are about competing, about stratifying, about separating. I thought this place was about getting together. It can be.

What's your story?

Cheers,
Jimi


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 8:17 am 

Joined: June 27th, 2010, 2:42 pm
Posts: 138
Location: Everywhere USA
I have none......Credentials are only relevant if they are accepted by the system in charge of validation, which means they can only produce bias by their own design. I would almost be ashamed to have any in such a pathalogical and self destructive society.


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 8:20 am 
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Daryl Eby wrote:
... A few folks there offered controversial opinions and were then challenged to list their qualifications, as if only highly experienced or uber edumacated people were qualified to voice opinions...

Daryl, you misrepresented the situation in that other thread. Those few folks didn't just voice controversial opinions; they vaguely but strongly denigrated scientists/scientific work without providing any context for evaluating their attacks. No mention of what might qualify them to judge their targets (let alone so harshly), no specifics as to who or what they were actually talking about, pretty much nothing but their meaningless slams. I know that kind of thing is fairly common here at FHF, but it's not right and people shouldn't silently put up with it any more than they should tolerate general attacks on other groups of people/professions. That's not what this forum is meant for, and Scott has emphasized this on numerous occasions.

Also, just to make it clear, I wasn't particularly interested in listing any of my "own impressive resume," and I don't really think it's all that impressive, either.

1) I was specifically asked to talk about my background because I had asked those few other people you mentioned to qualify theirs (in the context of their attacks on scientists who are not around to defend themselves, not in general), and I chose to comply just for the sake of satisfying curiosity about me. I thought people might find my background interesting, just as I find those of others.

2) I've done some things in life, just as has everyone else here. I think the diversity of our education, experience and outlook is awesome, and although one of us might be better or worse at this or that than another, it doesn't make any of us better or worse than others overall. For all of your talk above about credentials, my actual invitation emphasized that such wasn't at all what I was interested in, not mine or anyone else's:

gbin wrote:
I want to emphasize that I am not interested in engaging in any kind of "I'm more (whatever) than you are!" nonsense with anyone. I suspect most folks here don't even know that I have a Ph.D., and that's just fine with me. Outside of the professional realm, so far as I see it credentials only matter when they help folks assess how reliable a person's remarks might be (e.g. to decide whether to give any creedence to someone who is passing harsh judgment on others' professional work). Besides, my general outlook here and elsewhere in life is that none of us is any better overall than anyone else; we all have individual strengths and weaknesses and we all have unique experiences to share.

Accordingly, I'd be delighted to learn more about you and others here, too, IB - and I don't mean a list of your credentials (unless that's what you want to share). I've no doubt that whatever you find most interesting about yourselves will be interesting to me and everyone else, as well. Maybe if we all get to know each other better, these flare-ups will become less frequent.

I just wanted to set the record straight on these things.

Gerry


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 8:49 am 
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Location: Terlingua / Marfa, Texas
Gerry,

I know I took you out of context. It's so much easier to make my own points and spin my own narrative when I use the words of others to say what I want them to say. I didn't really want to get into the seriousness of that debate. Just used it, and your suggestion, as a spring board. Sorry Gerry.

Let's leave the serious point and counter-point to that other thread. I actually think it has been productive there. This thread, however, is meant to be fun and friendly.

Thanks for playing.


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 9:28 am 

Joined: June 12th, 2010, 3:08 pm
Posts: 204
I think my first encounter with herps was finding toads in my backyard as a little kid, but I didn't take a real interest in reptiles and amphibians until my dad brought home three small patch-nose snakes in a bucket when I was about five. My sister and I "played" with them for hours, probably too long, but we were careful. While none of my siblings were ever very excited to see a snake, I was hooked from that moment, and snakes have been my passion ever since.

I was a very slow reader up until I was six, but my parents made a smart move and purchased some snake books, and I learned quickly at that point. Besides my actual Bible, my herping bibles as a child were Bartlett and Tennants' two field guides to North American snakes. I had never known that the U.S. held such great diversity, and I carried those books everywhere in an attempt to learn all that was humanly possible. Within weeks, they were falling apart.

For the most part, however, I saw very few snakes during my childhood. Until I turned ten (and began reading the Field Herp Forum), I had no idea that the term "herping" existed. Following the forum was my way of seeing the animals that I spent a lot of time dreaming about, and apart from that, I listened to my dad's tales of his younger snake-hunting years. To make matters worse, I wasn't even certain that I had the guts to actually catch a snake were I to find one. I had been bitten by a pet ratsnake when I was about seven, and being bitten again was a big concern of mine.

My dad and I began road-cruising when I was about eleven, and it was on this trip that I saw the first of many rattlesnakes to come on the caliche roads of the Rio Grande Valley that we still drive today. We've been more proficient in recent years, and as I approach my sixteenth birthday, I have had the pleasure of seeing slightly more than half of the snakes found in the four counties that make up the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The highlights of these include a Mexican Hognose, some good-sized rattlers, a Desert Kingsnake, a Speckled Racer, and just yesterday I was running with my cross country team and added a Mexican Racer to that list. Not to mention, my fear of snake teeth being embedded in my skin is now nonexistent, and I've been bitten by two of the three snakes I've seen in the last week!

As far as credentials, I'm not really sure what to say. My dad and I never relocate animals (or not more than a few meters, just to keep them safe), never take wild animals captive, and try to "leave it as you find it" as much as we can. I guess that at least means we follow the rules.


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 9:33 am 
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Daryl Eby wrote:
Gerry,

I know I took you out of context. It's so much easier to make my own points and spin my own narrative when I use the words of others to say what I want them to say. I didn't really want to get into the seriousness of that debate. Just used it, and your suggestion, as a spring board. Sorry Gerry.

Let's leave the serious point and counter-point to that other thread. I actually think it has been productive there. This thread, however, is meant to be fun and friendly.

Thanks for playing.

Uhmmm, really? What's "fun and friendly" about asking people for their credentials to post on an internet message board, or falsely implying that others have done so?

Gerry


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 9:39 am 
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Location: Leander, TX
I may be wrong, but I am guessing that Daryl's post was more or less meant for sharing your experience/story about why we are all into this, and/or what got us here. I think he the use of "credentials" was more or less satirical.

Honestly, no one really cares about "Credentials" except people who are insanely up-tight, or someone who is seeking a medical doctor because of something serious.

I agree that this post should be fun and friendly, as well as educating each other of our selves. Nice to see how many of us come from very similar beginnings.


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 10:05 am 
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Location: Terlingua / Marfa, Texas
AtroxKR wrote:
I may be wrong, but I am guessing that Daryl's post was more or less meant for sharing your experience/story about why we are all into this, and/or what got us here. I think he the use of "credentials" was more or less satirical.

Honestly, no one really cares about "Credentials" except people who are insanely up-tight, or someone who is seeking a medical doctor because of something serious.

I agree that this post should be fun and friendly, as well as educating each other of our selves. Nice to see how many of us come from very similar beginnings.


BINGO. Correct on all points. Someone give AtroxKR a gold star!

For clarification, please note that my long write-up about myself included absolutely ZERO real "credentials" or even any notable accomplishments (perhaps that's because I have none, but still). I'm very pleased to see others here recounting the stories of how they became interested in herps, although listing REAL credentials would be great also. When it comes right down to it, the only "credential" it takes to be part of FHF is an interest in herps. That ONE thing binds us all. At times, it seems to be the ONLY thing we share. Nice to have that common bond reinforced. Sorry I broke with that intent by inadvertently offending Gerry. Guess I should have come up with a different intro and title to this thread. I'll say it again, sorry Gerry. All was meant in good fun.


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 10:44 am 

Joined: November 4th, 2010, 2:43 pm
Posts: 529
AtroxKR wrote:

Honestly, no one really cares about "Credentials" except people who are insanely up-tight, or someone who is seeking a medical doctor because of something serious.



Or people hiring for jobs (and not just HR people).


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 11:24 am 
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Location: Leander, TX
Well, yes, that too. :lol:

I'm sure there are several more instances where credentials are valuable and of importance, however, when it comes to having a passion for all things Herp, they hold no real relevance.


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 11:40 am 
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Location: Oceanside
because I know Hubbs!


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 11:45 am 
My credentials:
-I try to leave the area I herp in better condition than I found it.
-If you tell me about your "secret herp spot", I won't go there w/o your permission or tell others.
-I have several respected field herpers who would vouch for me (with the right bribe).
-I've been the proud recipient of the "Soaked Award"** for the past 3 years running.

**Soaked Award - an annual award given to the field herper with the most consecutive cooler soakings in a given herp year. This is accomplished by placing a fake snake on the road and causing the herping vehicle behind you to slam on their brakes, which causes the cooler to fly from the back seat up to the front, drenching the occupants in the process.


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 12:36 pm 
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Posts: 3132
Location: Pennsylvania- Bucks Co. near Phila.
Self-made and still a work in progress, absorbing knowledge from books (pre-internet) and a host of skilled enthusiasts willing to share their experiences with me. I have the utmost respect for those who took the time and had the discipline to go through the schooling to get to a point where they can truly be called professionals. I count several of those folks as well as gifted lay people among my peers and friends. And besides the "soaked" thing, adhere to RobK's ethics as well.
Herping from age 5-45 I have so much more to learn.


Oh, and here is a pic... I will never profess to being a photographer, I just like taking pictures.



Image


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 12:59 pm 
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Location: Rochester, NY
As long as I can remember (as early as age 4 or 5...maybe younger), I have had a drive/interest to look at, touch, and eventually read about certain living creatures - primarily animals. I love to see what is under a rock; have a strong urge to see little "things' up close, and I've been blessed with patience in only a few areas of my life - one being the ability to sit and watch/observe (for hours) seemingly boring natural events (like watching ants in their colony). This interest/drive/character trait/character flaw/...whatever, has been a part of my personality my whole life. It is as strong, or stronger, now at age 59 than it was at age 5 or 6 when a neighborhood teenager gave me a screen- topped wooden crate with 3 adult garter snakes in it. I kept them in my garage (over the STRONG objections of my mother), and learned (by reading) and begging my father to take me to our local zoo - where I assertively sought out an audience with a reptile keeper for help. This is very significant because I was a VERY shy, reserved kid...but I had zero trouble picking his brain. I fed my snakes nightcrawlers I collected evry few nights after watering our back yard. I will NEVER forget the afternoon in early August of 1958 when I removed the bricks holding down the screen cover of the garter enclosure, and saw a "mess" in the cage. I soon realized that there were tiny babies all over the cage. I was as excited as I ever remember being...the equal of any Christmas morning. A few days later, a second larger female gave birth to a litter of about 20, giving me a total of over 40 babies. The events of that summer motivated me to read (mostly books WAY above my ability), begin my collection of natural history literature, and sparked a drive to go out into the boonies in search of...anything (but primarily snakes).
Unlike many of my friends and acquaintances in my avocation, I have NEVER outgrown this passion/interest (I really don't know what to call it). It is a drive of some sort. One that is relieved somewhat by reading, watching TV, speaking to a fellow herper, exploring, keeping/breeding specimens, and other ways. When I was about 9 years old, I wrote letters to Kauffeld, Conant, Ross Allen, and Bill Haast (among others). I wanted advice on how to get a job as a reptile keeper or curator in a zoo. Conant, Haast, and Kauffeld responded and they encouraged my study of herps but said that jobs were few and far between. To a man, they encouraged me to pursue herpetology as an avocation and they promised that I would get a lifetime of enjoyment from that approach. They were right. I continue to love my hobby/avocation, and I've evn managed to make enough money selling CB/CB offspring that I've been able to acquire, and breed, species I only dreamed about.
The passion/drive has also motivated me to travel to places I only dreamed of seeing. I still have many more goals to pursue (the goals are infinite)I get excited even thinking about them....as a matter of fact, I still get a rush from finding a common snake in my front yard (happened last week when I almost ran over a northern brown snake while cutting my grass...ran into the house like I'd just found a rare exotic).
I have few herp credentials on paper. I've never published a paper, thesis, or article. I work in law enforcement. BUT...I am known as "the snake guy" by neighbors, co-workers, friends who know I've had this "odd" interest for over 50 years. My only paid experiences is that I cared for the extensive collection of a reptile dealer/importer about 35 years ago (I always opted to get paid by animals rather than take any cash. Got some great snakes that way). I have been called in to assist on law enforcement activities potentially involving exotic reptiles (e.g. searches of drug dealers homes) and I've actually had my department pay to send me for training on dealing with "hots" found secondary to serving a Warrant.

I'm not sure my post even addresses the intent of your request Darryl. I just think that, for me, there is some internal part of my personality that will always cause me to view the world a little differently than most people. My wife and I always joke that if we ever went to Las Vegas together, I would have a blast renting a truck and going out into the boonies to poke aroung in the rocks and hillsides - while she took in the shows, gambling, and attractions.


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 1:55 pm 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1039
Quote:
if we ever went to Las Vegas together, I would have a blast renting a truck and going out into the boonies to poke aroung in the rocks and hillsides - while she took in the shows, gambling, and attractions


Yep - there's a herper!

My wife HATES hiking with me - she wants to bag the peak, and I, well..."bag that! here's a nice log to roll!" Slow, slow, slow. Drives her insane.

But if you are ever in Vegas - the Flamingo has a nice shady pool to drink in!

Cheers,
Jimi


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 3:07 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:41 pm
Posts: 1971
Location: Connecticut
I became fascinated with herps when I was 5 or 6. My parents moved us down to Jacksonville, Florida for a short time and I can remember chasing lizards in the sand dunes. I also vividly remember alligators being fed at one of the parks.

Moving back to CT there were no lizards to chase so I soon started exploring the old farmland that ran behind my neighborhood. My first snakes (garters and browns) were found there and the occasional snapper. My parents encouraged my interest in the outdoors and I recieved the small golden guide as a gift. I carried that book with me everywhere, tattering the edges and dreaming of finding such animals as the Alligator Snapping Turtle and a Green Snake. I remember searching tall grass every day in the hopes of finding a green snake. (never did).

As a teenager I moved on and started exploring the local river and became well acquanted with the eastern snapping turtle. I also branched out and started finding more species like milksnakes, box turtles and salamanders. It was the early 90's and herpetoculture was experiencing a boom. I got caught up in it thanks to a brand new magazine called "Reptiles". I had a house full of cages and a backyard full of pools. I even kept a caiman for a short while and learned the hard way how lightning fast a crocodilian can be.

In those years I visited North Carolina twice and got a taste of good herping and I wanted more. Mr. Dick Bartlett's REPTILES magazine article "Notes from the Field" played a huge part in my growing interest in field herping. I started collecting herpetology books and became well versed in native herps. While other kids were still drooling over boas and monitors, I started spending more and more time at local parks studying the native herps.

I spent two years volunteering at Connecticut's only zoo where I worked with native herps as well as exotics like galapagos tortoise, broad-snouted and spectacled caiman and various constrictors.

After high school I went through a phase where I drifted away from the hobby. I still read the books and studied the subject but I went through 8 or 9 years without really getting out into the field.

Flipping a ringneck snake is what brought me back into the hobby full-time. Shortly after I found this forum and I found my passion again after all those years. In the past 6 years I've done more herping than I could ever imagine doing before. I also have had the opportunity to work with state and private agencies and completed my first herp survey in 2008. And of course, I am happy to be involved with the NAFHA and serve as Vice President of the Northeast Chapter. I have hopes of starting a herp rescue and relocation business sometime soon.

I came up herping right before the internet age. I learned everything I know from reading, talking to old-timers and getting my ass out into the field. Trial and error. That still holds true today. I am grateful for this community because I've learned so much and met some great people.

Oh, and I'm a proud LECH :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 3:12 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:09 am
Posts: 405
Location: NE Florida
My parents raised me to fear snakes, and I remember more than one occasion that my dad would shoot a cottonmouth out of the water, or my mom would decapitate a rat snake with a shovel. In my teens, something changed for me, can't say what - maybe I saw someone handling snakes on TV. But I started getting closer and closer to the snakes I came across, and even began handling the non-venomous ones, bringing them home to show my mom who would then scream her head off. I would even hide snakes in my room - rough greens, black racers, and ribbons. Sometimes they escaped my homemade cages, usually jewelry boxes, but luckily I always found them.

When I was 19 I got a job as a kennel tech at a local veterinary hospital run by Ralph Curtis's daughter. One of her employees was a "hot keeper". I had no idea what that meant at first. I would overhear Dr Curtis asking him about his "hots" and thought that they must be stolen. :crazyeyes: One day I went to his house and got to see his snake room. He had snakes from every corner of the world, all venomous. Once when I was at his house, he was feeding and cleaning the snakes. He pulled out an adult false water cobra by its tail and handed it to me. All I heard was "cobra" and I was terrified, but I didn't let it show. I dangled the snake by its tail trying to keep it as far away from me as possible while he finished cleaning its cage. A couple years later, we got married.

For several years, I suffered through the world of the commercial reptile trade. I loved owning snakes but I had too much compassion for them to enjoy the cut-throat world of animal sales. We went road cruising sometimes, but not for any other purpose than to collect more snakes to breed or sell. His snakes were a business commodity and ego booster. When we divorced, I kept snakes for a little while longer, but enjoyed "photography and release" more than anything else. Eventually, I quit captive keeping, and focused fully on road cruising and hiking to obtain my new passion - reptile photographs. But while we were together, I did learn a tremendous amount about snakes and how to handle them, and for that, I'm thankful.

These days, I still haven't returned to any captive keeping, but spend a lot of time in the field looking for elusive species and photographing what I find. To me, there's no reason to take snakes from the wild, nor to handle them in most cases. In situ photos are my main objective if I can get it, and I do my best to record my finds in the database. I love this forum because the majority of members are other "responsible" herpers, and I appreciate that this is what the forum is aimed at creating more of. :)


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 3:13 pm 
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Joined: June 27th, 2010, 12:27 pm
Posts: 963
Location: Terlingua / Marfa, Texas
DaveR wrote:
I'm not sure my post even addresses the intent of your request Darryl.

You addressed it perfectly. Whatever you wanted to share is what I was hoping to read. I found your story very interesting. I'm sure others did as well. Thanks for playing.


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 3:33 pm 

Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
Posts: 6980
Location: Hesperia, California.
In the early 60's, my parents made the mistake of taking me to the Miami Serpentarium, where I saw Haast do his thing with King Cobras... the rest is history... here's the real short version...
After moving back to Ca, caught my first 2 snakes (gopher/garter) on the same day, in 64, walking to the babysitter's house, after my 1st grade class had let out for the day. Put them in a pickle jar and the next day I had one snake. :roll:
My Mom and Stepdad, being from cold climates and uneducated regarding reptiles... didn't care for them, and I was never allowed to keep any till I moved out... the day I turned 18 (bought a car/rented an apt the day before, with $ I had saved since I started working at age 13.) I was still in High School.
Went frigging NUTS... within 2 months had 150 herps in a one bedroom apt... bout half hot. Tagged by Helli's in 75 and again in 76, before I learned to be more careful, and started doing herp talks in the 80's, while living in Ha. Still doing herp ed talks... trying to teach kids not to do the stupid things I did, at their age.
Besides my assorted college degrees and certifications, my positions held with the Ca chapter of Nafha is as close as I come to any type of herping credentials...
My #1 hobby is actually making people laugh... herpers are just the coolest group of people I've found, to practice on... :crazyeyes: :lol: :beer: jim


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 4:03 pm 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1039
Quote:
trying to teach kids not to do the stupid things I did, at their age


God's work, or a fool's errand, huh? Good on ya. We could swap stupid-me stories I bet. I just can't tell you about my bites (knocks self on head...).

Cheers,
Jimi


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 4:15 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:13 pm
Posts: 2257
Location: Minnesota
Hey all, (long but paints a pretty good picture of my history)

I was born in Indiana but my family moved to Spring, Texas when I was about one year old. While a neonate in SE Texas, I spent a lot of time outdoors fishing and chasing creepy-crawlies. It didn't take long for me to develop an addiction to finding herps; especially snakes. Fortunately I was living in an area of the country that made this easy on a young enthusiastic herp nerd. We had many of the native SE TX species residing within our neighborhood (some even calling our backyard home). I was able to maintain this interest throughout my pre-teen and early teen years but just before high school my family decided to move to New Ulm, Minnesota (rural MN) to be closer to extended family.

This move from a herp-mecca (IMO) to the frozen tundra of the north was far from exciting for a young boy interested in chasing herps. Because of this, herping was put on the back-burner (although not completely forgotten), while I chased girls in-lieu of herps. :thumb: As I neared high school graduation I began to think about what sort of career I wanted to pursue. Fortunately I was able to take several biology and zoology courses in high school and decided that I wanted to turn my passion for herps into a career studying and conserving this often under-appreciated group of organisms.

After high school I moved to Minneapolis, MN to attend college. Being out on my own gave me an opportunity to own a few herps that my family didn't want living under their roof (though they did let me keep a few things from time to time). I quickly became interested in Erycines (Family Boidae; Subfamily Erycinae), though I cannot really explain why. I have successfully kept and bred many of the species from this group. At this time I also started a herp breeding business called, "Captive Bred Herps." with the goal of breeding the less commonly kept stuff and making captive bred babies available to interested keepers. While this is strictly a side business (hobby really), it keeps me fairly busy and even turns a profit some years.

During my first couple years of college, I quickly realized that most schools do not offer degrees in herpetology per se, but rather students are required to select a discipline (evolutionary biology, conservation biology, wildlife management, toxicology, forestry, and the list goes on....) and incorporate their interests into their selected field of study. Upon this realization, I transferred in to the Fisheries and Wildlife program at the University of Minnesota with an emphasis on Wildlife Biology. While most courses focused on large mammals and waterfowl, I knew the underlying teachings were applicable to other taxonomic groups. Where possible, I selected herp species of interest for class projects and reports. During my junior and senior years of my undergraduate experience, I was able to work my way into a few labs that included herps into their research questions. Projects ranged from things like evolutionary history of diurnality in geckos (which will hopefully be published soon) to the geographic distribution of turtles along the upper Mississippi River. One valuable lesson I learned from these opportunities was that I preferred applied research over theoretical work; I didn't want to be stuck in a lab! As with many here, I travel to far away places as often as possible to herp! :)

After finishing my undergrad, I had the opportunity to take a funded research assistantship at the U. of Minnesota in the Conservation Biology Program. My work focused on the, "Initial Response of Amphibians and Small Mammals to Timber and Coarse Woody Debris Harvest." During this time, I also started several side projects primarily aimed at geographical distribution of Midwest herpetofauna. I recently finished my Master's work (defended in Feb. 2012). After I defended my MS work, I applied to be recognized as a certified Associate Wildlife Biologist through the Wildlife Society (no easy feat), which I was awarded.

During my MS work, I also started working for the Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources conducting rare species surveys in remaining prairie and oak savanna areas, which later turned into a project studying Plains (or Western) Hognose Snake spatial ecology (some cool stuff was learned; will post links to articles when published).

In May 2012, I accepted a full-time position with MN DNR as a nongame wildlife biologist (pretty much my dream job). Now I get to work with herps nearly everyday (and get paid)!

:sleep: :sleep: :sleep: :sleep:

Well, just in case any of you are still reading, I am also actively involved in the FHF and NAFHA community. Given that I come from diverse background of herpetological related interests (hobby herping, captive breeding and now professional herpetology), I am interested in the role private citizens can play in the conservation of my favorite group of organisms. Citizen science, while not a new idea, certainly has a lot of hurdles to overcome. As such, I have tried to stay active in all aspects of the community and currently sit as the International Coordinator of NAFHA, President of the Minnesota Herpetological Society, and advisor to the Midwest Partners for Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (MW PARC).

Ok... I am done for now. Feel free to PM me any time to talk or with questions.

-Chris

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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 4:48 pm 
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Joined: June 27th, 2010, 12:27 pm
Posts: 963
Location: Terlingua / Marfa, Texas
Chris Smith wrote:
Well, just in case any of you are still reading
I was. Thanks. Very interesting. Sounds like you're living the dream.


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 4:59 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:13 pm
Posts: 2257
Location: Minnesota
Daryl Eby wrote:
Chris Smith wrote:
Well, just in case any of you are still reading
I was. Thanks. Very interesting. Sounds like you're living the dream.


I certainly cannot complain about my job responsibilities but I could use a big boost in my pay-check. Not all government employees are over-paid!

:cry:

-Chris


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 5:02 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:37 am
Posts: 872
Location: NE Ohio
Chris Smith wrote:
I certainly cannot complain about my job responsibilities but I could use a big boost in my pay-check. Not all government employees are over-paid!

:cry:

-Chris


I hear you there, man...


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 6:45 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:44 pm
Posts: 2623
Location: Ventura, CA
I like "fun and friendly" cause I do this for fun :D


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 7:38 pm 
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Joined: June 27th, 2010, 12:27 pm
Posts: 963
Location: Terlingua / Marfa, Texas
monklet wrote:
I like "fun and friendly" cause I do this for fun :D

And you're friendly. Well, most of the time. :beer:


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 11th, 2012, 8:01 pm 
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Joined: June 27th, 2010, 12:27 pm
Posts: 963
Location: Terlingua / Marfa, Texas
Sorry that I contributed to this thing blowing up over on the boardline thread. Probably should have handled that by PM. Thank you all for continuing to share your personal comments. I'm really enjoying this.


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 12th, 2012, 11:48 am 

Joined: June 11th, 2010, 11:46 am
Posts: 155
I'm really digging reading everyones story. I enjoy hearing how people became interested in herping, as well as stories of the catch/cruise/find/adventure.

Like many others, I was 5 or 6. Walking around a small lake in Oakland, CA, looking for crawdads. I saw a huge snake, somehow knew it was a gopher snake, and picked it up. Game on! A few years later(early 70's) when we were allowed to roam with no supervision, my friends and I would walk about three miles to go "Snake hunting". We would be trying to figure out what to do with our day, and I would always suggest snake hunting, to unanimus audible groans. I would keep alot of the stuff we found. I would go to the East bay vivarium, when it was a small hole-in-the-wall store in Oakland (Now a very well known reptile store in Berkeley). I would trade gophers and garters and ringnecks for more "exotic" snakes and substrate and whatnot. In 1976 we moved to Half moon bay, CA. I was catching garters and keeping them, until one day I flipped a board and there were over 100 snakes under it! A bunch of adults and so many babies to ground looked alive! I just stared at 'em in awe, gently laid the board back down and promptly went home and released all of my gartersnakes. Never kept another snake, until 6 years ago, when my first daughter was about to be born. I caught a zonata on a fishing trip and kept it to teach my girl(s) about them. They love "Burney".
In high school, pursuing snakes gave way to the pursuit of girls and waves. It would remain that way for the next fifteen years or so. I would still always catch snakes and lizards that I came across, and as someone said earlier, nobody wanted to hike with me because I was too slow. Always off trail flipping stuff. But that was about the extent of my herping...Until...
About eight years ago, while I was caring for my ill mom, I would stop at a spot where I used to catch snakes years before. Lots of 4x8s loaded with snakes underneath! One day after one such stop, I got home and typed the word "Snake" into my computer..."What!? It's called field herping!? and there's a whole community of people doing it!??" I've since met some great people to get out in the field with, go road cruising with (which I'd read about a long time ago, and always thought would be so fun to do in the desert) and make herp specific trips with. ALL thanks to this web site!
Now, being a stay at home dad, I've been teaching the other parents and children everything I know (which ain't much) about the local herpetofauna. Even turned a couple of dads into aspiring field herpers. Fun stuff, this field herping...


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 12th, 2012, 3:53 pm 
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Joined: June 11th, 2010, 7:43 am
Posts: 1211
Location: kaukauna, wi
Chris Smith wrote:

Image



good topic, i'll respond later considering i've had a brush with acadamia lately.

nice pic chris. going for the amish look? we need to meet.

-ben


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 12th, 2012, 4:41 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:36 am
Posts: 374
Location: Sunny Myrtle Beach
It began with a DeKay's snake found on a grammar school field trip to River Trail Nature Center in Northbrook, IL. Of course I smuggled it home in a lemonade carton, and of course was required to release it. Fortunately, my mother went to Kansas to assist my eldest sister with her firstborn, and I promptly filled the house with pet shop herps with my father's approval. Boy, was mom surprised. Since those early days I have worked in pet shops, wholesaled exotics, did work/study at UNM under Dr. Bill Degenhardt, worked in a roadside zoo caring for the varmints and doing pit shows for tourists, worked at Honolulu Zoo briefly as reptile keeper, and then returned to SC to take a real job and keep a small collection. At all times and in all the places I've lived and visited, I've spent time exploring in the field. It's been an interesting and eventful fifty years since that first snake. I've learned a great deal, gotten some dandy scars, and met a lot of really interesting folks. Along the way I've enjoyed learning about non-herps. Practiced falconry, raised a puma, a jaguaroundia, several coons, a blujay and some hookbills. Today I have 13 snakes, including a 30 year old chicken snake, a breeding group of eastern box turtles, several dogs, and a grouchy Double Yellow-Head Amazon. I flip some with my friend Jamie when the weather is conducive and bore this forum with photos of the many copperheads we find. Wishing I could visit NE Kansas again in the fall, and always have a soft spot in my heart for The Land of Enchantment (although all that uphill walking seems a bit daunting). I always get a big charge out of the great posts I see on this forum. Thanks, as always, for sharing.


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 12th, 2012, 7:55 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:42 am
Posts: 1847
Quote:
a 30 year old chicken snake

The longevity intrigues me. Is "chicken snake" another name for rat snake?


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 12th, 2012, 9:57 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:39 am
Posts: 2757
I might win for earliest start to the herping hobby:


Image

Image



My mom and dad were passionate about the outdoors from an early age, though only dad liked herps. They met during a summer in the Snake River Bird of Prey National Monument – mom was a park ranger, dad assisted Lowell Diller in his snake research while he got his degree in wildlife management. My dad worked for Lowell for three summers in a row, and still tells me the lessons he learned about snake biology and finding snakes while out on the field in Idaho.

I’ve loved herps since the womb – my parents say I was herping well before I turned 3. My earliest memories are visiting the California Alligator Farm (where my dad worked), and taking care of our pet Reeve’s turtle. My dad was a zookeeper for 30+ years and we had a decent collection at home, but his real passion was the outdoors and hiking, fishing, hunting, and camping. I devoured our many field guides as well as “Snakes and Snake Hunting”, “Keeper and the Kept”, a college herpetology textbook, and whatever other books my parents would buy me that year. At any one time I would usually have around 10-12 herps of my own, and did a little bit of captive breeding and selling.

At about 8 years old I reread the “field notes” section of Stebbins’s guide for the tenth time and realized that I should keep field notes. I still have a little notebook I made with the specific details of half-a-dozen herp observations from that age. At age 11 I was asked by teachers to go classroom-to-classroom giving herp talks from 1st grade through 6th grade.


Image



At age 12 I did a short talk on snakes for the local public access cable station. I also got more serious about field notes at that time, and recorded every single herp observation for an entire year (unfortunately, my family accidentally trashed that later). Around this time I started herping with my friend Derek Brandt – the ONLY person I had ever met other than my dad who loved herps, and until the age of 28 the only other herper I’d ever gone out on the field with. Sadly, Derek drifted away after a couple years.

In middle school I became focused on being a “math and science prodigy”, and my grade-school zoo curator dreams shifted to fancies of research physics and academic acclaim. Herping took a back seat as I pursued biophysics, with the plan of getting my Ph.D. and working for NASA in astrobiology. I hit all the marks (got into great schools, did well there, did research work with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory), but during my education I had a dramatic spiritual experience and realized that I was chasing after titles and praise rather than actually trying to do something meaningful with my life. So I did a u-turn and taught high school science in inner-city Los Angeles instead. The desire to engage the students with classroom pets…led to getting out into the field to get a few pets…led to restarting that herping bug. By my third year of teaching I had 19 enclosures in the classroom, and other teachers were asking me to give herp talks to their students. Fifth grade all over again!

The real turning point, though, was a backpacking trip I took with my fiancée and a friend to Utah’s Glen Canyon Recreation Area. I saw a few lizards I couldn’t identify, leading me to find the Utah Herpetological Society on the internet. Brian Eager was a great help, and when I lamented the lack of a similar site in California, he suggested the FHF. Within a month I was entering data into NAFHA (due to my science background, I have an unhealthy obsession with data), and I’m now proud of the work that I’ve done for NAFHA on the database, surveys, data requests, and getting people to collaborate with each other. I’ve also gotten three distribution notes published in Herp Review, discovered the first population of Hemidactylus parvimaculatus ever known from southeast Asia, wrote a comprehensive field guide to the reptiles and amphibians of Bangkok ( http://bangkokherps.wordpress.com ), and got an article published in the most recent issue of HerpNation magazine. None of that would have happened without the inspiration and collaboration from people I met on the FHF.

I guess I could have just said, “My dad got everything started, then FHF and NAFHA made everything start counting.”


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 13th, 2012, 12:52 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:19 am
Posts: 1938
Location: Redding, CA
Other than high school, I never had a biology class.

I started field herping when I was young, reptiles and amphibians mostly in west Contra Costa County.
I was very lucky, Dr. Robert C. Stebbins attended the same church as I did. Well, I think he went for his wife Anna Rose, I do not want to give the impression that he was religious. I don't know if he was or not, never had that discussion with him. Anna Rose was.

Anyway, I am extremely grateful that he put up with all my stupid questions, I did not understand at the time the magnitude of who he was.

My credentials - I've really slowed down this year, but I think this is credentials enough:

http://www.naherp.com/search.php?sort=r ... r_owner=25


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 13th, 2012, 8:39 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:36 am
Posts: 374
Location: Sunny Myrtle Beach
Tamara, chicken snake is indeed another name for rat snake. In this case, it's a "greenish" phase yellow rat. He fell off of my storm door one night many years ago when he was a neonate. I can't explain why I chose to take him inside. As greenish rats go, he's fairly attractive nowadays (but that's not saying much), and in the neighborhood of six feet. Here's a forced perspective shot of the old fella and another old fella.

Image


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 13th, 2012, 10:19 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:42 am
Posts: 1847
That's an impressive animal. I haven't seen enough yellow rats to take them for granted. I still find them stunning.


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 14th, 2012, 8:43 am 
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Joined: June 11th, 2010, 7:43 am
Posts: 1211
Location: kaukauna, wi
ok, i said i'd be back.

it's interesting seeing the same trend shared by many. kept lots of snakes when young/drifted away for a while/got back into it with more of a photograph emphasis. that's me too. the next few paragraphs are from my personal snake journal.


-"I’ve loved animals for as long as I can remember. Slowly, my focus turned to the creepy-crawly stuff, and finally ended with reptiles. Snakes in particular. My mom tells me of times when I’d bring in pocketfuls of worms so I could “give them a home”. My hats off to mom for putting up with it for all those years. Six foot kingsnakes loose in the house, breeding rats and mice in her laundry room, rat turds on the laundry room floor, stinky aquariums in the garage, carp in the kiddie pool, and much, much more. THANKS MOM!

I had plenty of snakes and turtles as pets. I don’t keep them anymore. I just take pictures. Here’s a rundown of the pets I remember having: ball pythons, burmese pythons, boa constrictors, king snakes, corn snakes, fox snakes, hog-nosed snakes, garter snakes, red-bellied snakes, milk snakes, turtles and lizards. I had them all.

My first pet snake was a red-bellied snake that my grandpa got me up at the cabin. I think I was in second or third grade. That was the beginning. From there I caught garter snakes by the nature center, snapping turtles in the river, salamanders and frogs up at Regan’s cottage. My grandpa took me trout fishing once and all I did was annoy him. He fished in these tiny streams, and the trout spook easily. I was chasing critters and scaring his trout away. Finally he made me sit down, and he filled his creel in short order. That was the first and last time he took me trout fishing. I got my first ball python when I was in 7th grade. My friend Eric Vanderloop introduced me to Wade Thorson around that time. Wade and I have been great friends ever since. Through him, I met Ross and Kenny Buchinger. We all lived in the fox river. I’m surprised we never grew gills. We all had “pets”. One time Ross even wanted to keep a very big, and very mean opossum in his toy box. We all had wading pools filled with fish and turtles in our back yards. We’d even go “gopher fishing” to catch food for our snakes. Gopher fishing requires a fishing pole with the end of the line tied in a slip-knot. You put the loop over the hole, and when the gopher pokes it’s head out, you reel it in. We were an interesting group to say the least. If I keep going on this, I’ll end up writing a book. There are a lot of good stories to tell, but I like having most of them in my head."-

kauffeld was an inspiration for me as a kid in high school. i had a grandmother in central florida, and i loved going to visit. i found a few good herps there, but didn't have the knowledge to find a lot.


after my "drift", i settled back in SE wisconsin. i happened to run across pingleton's personal web site. sent him an e-mail asking if he knew a good place to meet like minded folks. the rest is history. here i am.

Image

as of now, i'm doing a simple long-term fox snake monitoring project at a local nature center. i'm giving conservation-minded talks on native reptiles. i've also been spending some time counting gravid females at a certain timber den. the location of this den(in my opinion) will play a large role in repopulating northern parts of historical range in the state of wisconsin. so far the numbers are not that large, but they have all been young snakes. that's good to see.

i like the thread. we all know that differing opinions can get out of hand on the forums. that's ok though, but hopefully we can recognize when this happens. it's good to get grounded now and then. we should never forget how alike we truly are.

i remember watching an interview of a fighter pilot once. he was asked how he felt about having achieved "ace" status. his response was something like this: i don't feel good about it. i killed people that i would have enjoyed talking with over a few beers.

so true.

-ben


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 14th, 2012, 9:42 am 
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Joined: April 15th, 2011, 12:29 pm
Posts: 711
Location: Southern Indiana
My story is a little different from most so I'll share.

I was always obsessed with nature. When I was very young, it was marine life. In fact, had I grown up near the ocean, I probably would've continued that path instead of herps. But, I just had to make do with the creek down by my elementary school. I grew up going down there and catching crayfish and minnows by the bucketload. Like most kids, I wanted to take my finds home so we usually had 5 fishtanks at any one time. On these creek adventures I of course came across many other animals; snappers, salamanders, frogs and "copperheads" (after hearing someone talking about them, I looked it up and at ten years old recognized that they were Nothern Water snakes) I slowly began to become more interested in these animals than the fish and crayfish that original drew me there. Before long, I was a complete amphibian nut. Frogs were, and really still are my favorite (hence the username). I also grew up watching Steve Irwin and Jeff Corwin's animal planet. Like many discussions on here have pointed out, these shows weren't perfect, but they were still a hell of a lot better than the crap shown on there nowadays.

Then when I was about 13 I discovered there were other people who enjoyed this hobby, and I came across Herping with Dylan and a few other herping websites. Over the last couple years I became more interested in snakes, which I hadn't really been before. I'm now 16 and I think I have vastly improved (and am still improving) in my knowledge and photography skills.

Some photos to keep this interesting....
Image
Longtailed Salamander (Eurycea longicauda longicauda) by Zach Truelock, on Flickr

Image
Pickeral Frog (Rana palustris) by Zach Truelock, on Flickr

Image
Red Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum syspila) by Zach Truelock, on Flickr

-Zach


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: July 14th, 2012, 5:12 pm 
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Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm
Posts: 2227
Location: San Francisco, California
I was 7. It happened in an abandoned horse pasture in Hayward California.

I was exploring in the tall grass and I had my plastic army helmet on. Which in those days I wore at all times.

It was a pacific sharptailed snake. It laced around my muddy fingers - it was alive and real and tiny facets shimmered in the sunlight and never had I touched or seen anything so Perfect. "You are so beautiful!" I said - it was involuntary.
It still is.


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: August 8th, 2012, 9:48 am 
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Posts: 164
Location: Encinitas
I'll go into detail when I get on a computer (I'm on my phone), but the comment of non-venomous first snakes made me lol. A big Timber started it off for me. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: August 15th, 2012, 4:40 pm 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:46 pm
Posts: 279
I've never killed anybody. I know you didn't ask that but maybe you should have.


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: August 15th, 2012, 6:08 pm 
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Location: Terlingua / Marfa, Texas
Aaron wrote:
I've never killed anybody. I know you didn't ask that but maybe you should have.


The week's not over yet.


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: September 2nd, 2012, 9:32 am 
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Posts: 1675
Location: huntsville
for me, it started as a toddler from a kiddy book about baby gators called "im a little alligator" my parents got me in sfsp while we were paddling there.


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: September 2nd, 2012, 9:35 am 
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Location: huntsville
Daryl Eby wrote:
SECOND EDIT: I'm amending my intro to this thread. I should have done so as soon as I realized that it offended a fellow forum member. I did not expect or intend for my comments to be offensive to anyone. Revised comments in green

EDIT for clarity: I'm not really asking about "credentials". I'm sarcastically shunning that concept while sharing and asking others to share some personal history about how they became field herpers. Keep it fun and friendly. We can debate, argue, or even outright fight in other threads about more serious topics.

Some of you may have been following the "Herp Related Conservation Organizations" thread over on the Boardline. It has been an interesting discussion that, as often happens here, has spun way of topic. Some of the off-topic discussion revolved around credentials. I don't really have any official credentials and believe that the more important issue in a diverse community such as FHF members is our mutual interest in herps and how it developed. I hope most of you will agree that our common interests in herps is at least as important as our individual credentials or accomplishments.

A fellow member asked in that other thread, "Are any of you going to take me up on my invitation to share some biographical information about yourselves, in this thread or another? I hope so!" I thought it was a worthy question, so I started this thread to share a little about myself and invite others to do the same.


I was about seven when I caught a Rough Earth Snake outside of our family's church in San Antonio. I thought it was interesting. When my older brothers were interested and my mom totally freaked out I realized it was SUPER COOL. My parents insisted that I release it. Too late though, I'd been infected by Herps (not to be confused with herpes).

To my parent's great delight, I became obsessed with going to the library and church. The library for snake related books and church because that was were I found my first snake and I soon discovered that lots of them could be found under the rocks and other cover around the church grounds. My folks decided to encourage my interest in snakes as a vehicle for encouraging my interests in study and church attendance. I became best friends with Brian Blake (man, I'd REALLY love to locate and get back in touch with him). He had a great collection of snakes and we roamed all around San Antonio looking for more. We also spent LOTS of time and effort getting into trouble. Somehow, we only got caught by his folks. Especially in one bad incident right before I moved away. I left town and left Brian holding the bag and bearing full punishment for some juvenile delinquency that I had instigated. That was thirty-five years ago. I think he's still grounded. Sorry Brian.

Before I moved away (and before I got him in serious trouble), Brian introduced me to Joe Forks. He was about 18 (guessing) at the time and had an amazing (especially to my young eyes) collection. When Brian first took me to Joe's house, Joe was just returning from south Texas on his motorcycle with a freshly caught Mexican Milksnake. I was like a preteen girl being introduced to Justin Bieber (wonder how Forks will feel about being compared to Bieber). Hated that I had to move shortly afterward. I'm sure I could have taught Joe all about snakes if I could have stayed in San Antonio. Sorry Joe.

At thirteen, my family moved from San Antonio to DeSoto Texas (a Dallas suburb). Since we did not have enough furniture to fill the new home, I laid claim to what should have been my mom's formal dining room. In short order, I filled it with dozens of cages full of all sorts of herps. Sorry Mom.

I became known as "Snake Man" (bet many of you did too) and became best friends with Jimmy Forester when he moved to DeSoto the following year. We roamed all over DeSoto, Cedar Hill, and surrounding areas. We found and collected all the local varieties of herps. Jimmy was amazing and always made herping (or anything) a wild and amusing adventure. He eventually went on a museum collection trip with David Barker through northern Mexico and the southwest. He came back some amazing animals. He also found some very interesting ways to acquire other exotic snakes that his folks forbid him to keep. Many of his acquisitions found their way into my collection when the heat from his parents (and the heat in his secret snake room in the attic) became too high. Jimmy passed away 11/25/06 in a tragic rock climbing accident in Mexico. I'm now the keeper of his field herping journals and often spend time reading through his old notes. Hopefully, I'll do a better job of preserving his records than I did with preserving the animals he entrusted to my care. Sorry Jimmy.

In the 90's, I eventually grew tired of keeping captive animals. It took awhile, but I realized that I really suck and captive husbandry and that snake s--t stinks. To my wife Janet's delight, I stopped keeping animals and basically dropped out of herping. In 2004 my family gave into my desires and we moved to Terlingua Ranch in the Big Bend Region of SW Texas. I had fallen in love with this land back when I was salivating over the amazing snakes that call this place home. After living here a few years, I was reinfected with "herping" (again, NOT to be confused with herpes -I've never had enough adventure to catch that). When I stumbled upon Field Herp Forum, the infection became chronic. Surfing around FHF showed me what field herping was REALLY all about. I FINALLY realized that I could collect photos instead of animals and I could share my finds and opinions on the internet. I could pursue the thing I loved most about herping (the search and the moment of discovery), without the smelly cages. I soon became an active FHF member and have been wasting other herpers time ever since. Sorry FHF.

As my boys grew, they too became infected with herping. Since boys will be boys, they wanted captives of their own. I recognized the value of young learners being able to keep and care for a few animals, so I allowed it. Josh now has a Regal Ringneck and a Mexican Hognose. Zack has a New Mexican Milksnake and a Desert Kingsnake. I've also decided to start working toward giving occasional "snake talks" and decided to supplement my boy's collection with a few other notable local herps. I now possess a Sonora Gophersnake and plan to add a Trans-Pecos Ratsnake and Gray-Banded Kingsnake. Sorry Janet.

So, you see, I have NO CREDENTIALS. Just a love for herps, the good luck to have known some amazing people, and the good fortune to live in a place called home by some of the best herps in the US. Formal education, training, and professional job titles are great, but they are not needed to be a herper or a member here. All you need is a love and respect for reptiles and amphibians (even those slimy little salamander thingies qualify). Learn and share to your heart's content. You'll be welcome (even if occasionally abused) here. If you have an opinion or comment about herps, herping, herp studies, herp conservation, or anything of the sort, share it. If it is accepted and embraced, great. If it is challenged or ridiculed, that can be even better. Don't be intimidated or offended. Think it over and RESPOND. Debate, argue and convince. Or perhaps, review, reconsider and concede. Either way, we all win by learning more. Learning about herps. Learning about others. Learning about ourselves. I learn more when I'm proven wrong and that happens with such great frequency that I must be a freaking genius by now. Hey! Maybe that is my credential. I've lost more debates on FHF than anyone (and learned and grown every single time). Woo hoo!

Did I say this would be short? Oops. I was wrong again. Sorry readers.

Now, get even with me by wasting my time with a short (or long) accounting of your "credentials". No need to impress me. I'm already impressed.

i was called bug boy in elementary bucause durring recess i always had a bug box i carried and caught skinks spiders and bugs


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: September 6th, 2012, 9:16 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:21 am
Posts: 3258
Location: Iowa
Kent VanSooy wrote:
because I know Hubbs!


You're fired!


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 Post subject: Re: You call yourself a herper? What are your credentials?
PostPosted: September 6th, 2012, 12:17 pm 
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Joined: August 31st, 2012, 3:24 pm
Posts: 195
I do know I got started hunting critters of all kinds before kindergarten. Started with cicadas and collecting their skins. Fascinated with bats but was frustrated by a lack of information. No internet in those days. By third grade I could read Peterson's field guide to snakes that some extended family left at our place. My parents initially tried to scare me away from catching snakes. Then one day I caught an Ophisaurus ventralis and walked up on the front porch with it as my dad was fixing the screen door. He looked up and said: "Johnny.. What have I told you about catching snakes!!". I responded: "This isn't a snake". Then turned it toward him and said: "See.. it even blinks". Of course he had no clue about the eyelids. Never had any problems with my parents after that. :D


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