Close Encounters With A Rattlesnake And A Doe And Her Fawn At State Game Lands 141 In Carbon County .
Over the years I have seen many snakes, including rattlesnakes on my hikes here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I would often see them slither away while I was picking huckleberries or mushrooms. Since I got my first digital camera and started photographing wildlife 14 years ago I have photographed water snakes, garter snakes, black rat snakes, black racer snakes and hognose snakes , However, although I have seen a few, I have not been able to photograph a rattlesnake. I have looked for them on many hikes but not a single photo, until Saturday, when I had a close encounter with a timber rattlesnake near Tank Hollow in State Game Lands 141 in Carbon County. And I had a close and personal encounter with a doe and her young fawn. It was a good day.
I retuned to te Game Lands early Saturday morning. The gate at the parking lot on Behrens Roads was open again and this time I drove the access road about two miles to the last parking area. I was the only vehicle at this or the other five designated parking areas along the dirt access road. It was a cool May morning with brilliant sunshine in deep blue skies and a steady northwesterly wind. Temperatures were in the low 40’s. A great day for hiking it was.
I walked past the gate as the morning sun filtered through the canopy of the new leaves of Spring. The song of ovenbirds and red-eyed vireos filled the cool morning air. I noticed the the many mountain laurel, our State flower growing in the woods along the road. They were about a week away from blooming creating an even more beautiful walk ion this trail. The trail was covered with stone which would be difficult for walking but there was a well used trail along the stone which was easy to hike on.
It was a peaceful place to be as I saw this hooded warbler singing in a tree top. As I was trying to get some photos the peace and quiet was disturbed by a barking dog. And soon, the dog, and it’s owner came running down the trail. I thought to myself, there goes my opportunity to see a bear on this remote mountain road. I knew I was coming to the fork in the road so I asked him which way he was running, and he answered to the left. Soon after I heard more dogs and a couple and there two dogs came running past me. When I asked they, too, said they were running to the left.
and pitch pine trees along the road. These woodlands reminded so much of the mountain ridge near my home in Hazle Township in Luzerne County. We called it Stony Mountain and I hiked those woods for a half century until the turned it into an industrial park and housing development. I am still heartbroken over losing these woodlands of my youth but thankful for the many State parks, forests and game lands that exist and allow me to explore and enjoy nature.
I heard the songs of the eastern towhee, a common migratory birds that lives on these mountain ridges in Northeastern Pennsylvania. They are usually seen rustling in the leaf litter, unless the males, like this one, are singing in a tree branch.
After about a 1/2 mile the stone on the road ended and the road became a grass covered trail. It was nice hiking on the grass but I knew this also meant I would probably encounter some ticks, and sure enough, I did. I pulled seven of them off of me including two small deer ticks. I didn’t think I’d be hiking on the grass and had no repellant on. I checked myself thoroughly when I got home for any ticks hoping for a free meal. I had Lymes disease three times and it isn’t fun.
This was a wonderful experience and it would get even better. The doe and here fawn walked ahead around a curve on the trail. I thought they would be long gone, but, when I proceeded around the curve their they were looking at me as if they were waiting for me to catch up to them.
then left the trail and walked into the woods. It seemed like she wanted me to follow her. I didn’t it was too thick for me and we parted company. It was a most wonderful experience bonding with these wild creatures. I miss her and her fawn. This is why I could never hunt or hurt a living creature so beautiful as these two. I wish her and her fawn a long and wonderful life. Here is a link to a photo galley on my blog website with a lot more photos of my beautiful close encounter with the friendly doe and her fawn. The facial expressions on the deer are priceless. . State Game Lands 141 deer May 27 2023
I continued on my hike and soon found out why the doe left the trail. It ended in a short distance and only a narrow path lead to a gorge which along the creek that created Tank Hollow. It was steep and I wasn’t hiking down it. I believe the doe knew it was too steep for her small fawn. It was why she wanted me to follow her.
What a remarkable experience. I walked back along the trail this time stopping to photograph one of the many ovenbirds singing in the woodlands along the trail.
There were a lot of rocks here, and, with the May sun heating them up, I once again began my tireless search for a rattlesnake or copperhead. As I noted above I have been trying to photograph one of these venomous snakes I had seen so many times on my hikes in the woods near my home. I was frustrated many times.
So I began looking over and under the boulders and, I saw a snake. Well, I learned later it, when I came home and edited the photos I took it was actually two snakes, however at the time, after I saw something slithering around under the rock I saw these timber rattlesnake posed in a striking position,
I later was told the cloudy eyes meant it would soon be shedding it’s skin. The timber rattlesnake is a beautiful but misunderstood critter. I admired it, from a distance for a few minute. When I tried to encourage it to move from under the rock it crawled back beneath the rock, warning me to leave it alone with it’s rattle. It was another wonderful experience on a magical May morning.
Well, I continued my hike and look under and over every rock and boulder along the way , hoping to see another rattlesnake or maybe a copperhead, another of our venomous snakes. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any snakes .
I followed the Buzzard Point Road for about another mile. There were a few side trails along the road which I hope to explore on future hikes. I wished I could have continued my hike but I had already walked 5 miles and I try to limit my hiking to 7 miles now,
and I also saw a chipping sparrow. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. State Game Lands 141 birds May 27 2023.
It was near noon when I finished my five mile hike ( I hiked two miles earlier near my home) . I had two amazing encounters on my hike, one I had waited for for 14 years, and was glad to finally see, and share a photo of a timber rattlesnake, and the second was my unforgettable hike with the doe and her fawn. I love walking in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the United States and all over our truly beautiful planet. We are part of Nature and we must protect what remains of our wild areas. Here s a link to a gallery with some more photos from my five mile hike including the rattlesnake. State Game Lands 141 May 27 2023.
The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man. Charles Darwin .
An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language. Martin Buber