MAKENZIE’S OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: Conquering a fear of rattlesnakes

Three Oklahoma Game Wardens are doing their part to educate people about rattlesnakes with a program they offer.
Updated: Apr. 14, 2021 at 10:43 PM CDT
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JOHNSTON COUNTY, Okla. (TNN) -Oklahoma is home to several types of rattlesnakes, including the Western Diamondback.

In 7 News Anchor Makenzie Burk’s latest outdoor adventure, she visited some rattlesnake dens to learn more about the creature that strikes fear into many.

As the weather gets warmer, the rattlesnakes start to leave their dens.

That unmistakable rattle sound is a warning sign to stay away from these venomous creatures, but not for this story.

It’s all for a program these three Oklahoma Game Wardens put on.

“Our purpose is for education,” said Ty Runyan, Garvin County Game Warden. “Just to give a little more knowledge of what’s out here in our environment.”

“Snakes aren’t bad,” said Trey Hale, Marshall County Game Warden. “They’re here for a reason. They have their role in the environment just like everything else.”

“There’s three types of snakes you have to worry about, rattlesnake, copperhead and cotton mouth,” said Runyan. “If it’s not one of them, it’s not venomous, it’s not going to hurt you.”

And that’s why they catch these snakes. To teach kids how to identify the venomous ones...And what to do if you’re ever bit by one.

For Runyan, rattle snake hunting is his favorite.

“For one people just have a natural fear of them, so it’s just kind of one of those deals of being able to go out and face that fear and go do that,” said Runyan. “Of course it’s an adrenaline rush when you jump on a big den and there’s several of them rattling at you, standing up being aggressive.”

Typically, during the winter, the snakes will go to a den to keep warm.

“The dens are underground, normally on a south or a west facing ridgeline,” said Hale. “They want to be high enough up that if it rains or snows they’re not going to get flooded.”

“They’ll always kinda usually be tree cover and usually cactuses all around,” said Runyan.

Once we found a den, we had to keep our eyes and ears open...

“All the snakes we catch are for our programs, and to teach with,” said Runyan. “So we only keep a handful of snakes a year. And we only keep them for a short amount of time and we release them back out to their dens where they’re from.”

It’s not just kids that could benefit from this program.

“We’re in snake territory,” said Runyan. “We have a lot of people gardening, doing flowerbeds, stuff like that. So we want to eliminate, the unnecessary killing of some snakes that don’t need to be killed. That you want to have around your house or place.”

Marshall County Game Warden Trey Hale says you should treat all snakes as venomous, unless you’re absolutely certain.

To learn more about this program you can contact them:

Billy Bob Walker (580) 320-2959

Trey Hale (580) 320-2951

Ty Runyan (405) 238-1785

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