Noticing that the wild raspberries along the roadsides were beginning to ripen my mind drifted back to a large raspberry patch I had located while deer hunting a couple of years ago. Tossing the high boots, bucket, and chainsaw onto the pick-up bed I headed up the old logging road to check it out. Three trees had fallen across the road but the Stihl chainsaw made short work of them and soon I was surrounded by an abundant crop of wild raspberries. I soon noticed that I wasn't alone as quite a few birds were busily flitting about the fruit laden brambles and a couple of areas revealed the unmistakable sign of a bear having gorged itself with the bountiful harvest.
Wading into the berry patch filling my bucket as I went I was brought up short when I noticed this snake lying just above a bunch of berries I had just picked. Notice the three berries in the right foreground and the fruit pod to the right that I had just picked. This encounter was just a little too close for comfort, the distance from the snake was scarcely a foot!
Slowly moving back to a safer distance, I picked my way back to the truck where I left the berry bucket behind returning with the camera instead. The snake was still in the exact same position as what it was when I first sighted it. Look closely and you will see the Copperhead's head pointed directly away from the camera.
Moving to the snake's left I was able to get a decent view of its head. As Copperheads so commonly do, this snake chose to remain totally motionless during the entire encounter. Copperheads are not aggressive snakes but neither do they normally retreat at signs of danger. Stepping on a Copperhead can lead to a serious situation when the snake lashes out in self defence; and so to can picking berries too close to a hidden viper.
A close-up shot shows the snakes head and the heat sensing pit located below and in front of the eye.
The Copperhead is classified as a pit viper because of these heat sensing pits.
I made this shot using the 400mm lens with a 25mm extension tube attached. This combination allowed me to capture a good close-up image while maintaining a safe distance from the venomous snake.
After reviewing the image on the camera's LCD and finding that I was satisfied with the results I returned the camera to the truck and resumed berry picking in a different part of the patch.
At an earlier time in my life this encounter would have ended differently but with a growing appreciation for our natural environment and the native creatures that inhabit it I have developed a much healthier attitude towards our fellow creatures. If the only choice presented was to sustain a bite or kill the snake, undoubtedly I would kill the snake. Here the choice was easy; move away that we both could live to another day.