From Mouser Medic's Blog for April 7, 2013:
So what does one do when tired of shooting a small target with poor feedback? Horse shit. Stands out great against yellow and green grass, misses are easily seen by the chunks of dirt flying in the air, and hits are, well, very easily seen as the material flies better than the dirt does. Revolvers at 100 yards keep it interesting.
But there are things more engaging blasting horse apples at long distances. Like having a copperhead pop up while crossing the creek recovering targets at the end of the day. Two men emptying revolvers into water a couple feet away, without prior planning or coordination, is very interesting indeed.
Shooting at Snakes: The Pacific NorthWest includes some excellent snake country. Nested rattlers along a fenceline (where we pretty much HAD to cross), and walking past a Umatilla County sagebrush and hearing that distinctive "I'm Gonna Get You, Suckah!" rattle. Those moments are engraved in your Lizard Brain forever!
No harm, no foul.
The "Nested Rattlers" story? True fact. My 3-man deer-hunting party was moving together to the other side of the hunting area, and when we got to a fence we found three timber-rattlers curled together in the sun, right where we had intended to cross the fence. The grass was high, the sun was high, the fence was there and we wanted to be on the other side. So we ignored the snakes, they ignored us, and we got safely through the fence during the mutual "cease fire".
Pistols as "Snake guns"
Note that shooting at a snake with a Ruger Blackhawk in .41 Magnum is singularly unrewarding, unless you have taken the precaution of building some "snake rounds" with #7 birdshot held in place with Toilet Paper Wads held in place with a generous dollop of paraffin. Note also that the wax tends to melt in the temperatures which encourage Brer Snake to shake his boogie.
I actually loaded up some Snake Rounds according to this formula, for an Antelope Hunting trip to the Cheyenne area in or about 1990. As it happens, I never DID find any Rattlers on this trip, but I tested the pattern against a telephone pole and discovered that at a six-foot standoff distance, that 7-1/2" barrel allowed the shot to spread over more than one foot, and the density was erratic at best.
At other times, I've responded (after the obligatory "JUMP FOR THE SKY" reaction) to rattlers with a variety of weaponry.
Rifles as "Snake Guns"
The old Conventional Wisdom that you can point the barrel of a gun at a snake, and he will self-align his head with the bore? I tried that one day when I was hunting Jack Rabbits in Southern Eastern Oregon, and got the Buzz Warning.
After I recovered from my initial fright, I stood ten feet away, extended the .25-06 with one hand and waited for the snake to 'extend'. He did, I pulled the trigger, and ... I never did know where the snake went. Didn't find any blood, nor any body parts. But the snake was GONE from Grant county, and I strutted back to the pick-up truck with the mien of a true conqueror.
Unfortunately, my hunting companions (my father and my Uncle) were lounging by the truck, watching me as I quartered the sagebrush patch, and they evinced great amusement when they saw me elevate six feet vertically and 20 feet back when I got The Buzz. From a standing start.
I had only recently returned from an extended vacation in Viet Nam, and I was perhaps too finely tuned to 'threat warnings'. It was embarrassing, but I had by then learned the old saw about "Any engagement you walk away from, is a win".
The Ultimate Snake Gun
Actually, my experience as a high-school student was probably the most rewarding one. At least, in terms of "Geek 1/Snake 0" scoreboard stats.
Upland Bird hunting in the rocky sagebrush of Umatilla County, I got buzzed by a cranky old rattler in the heat of the day. He was close to his hidey-hole in a jumble of rocks, and did the Full Presentation. He was coiled, hissing, looking me right in the eye and had that tail shaking like he was fully ready to strike.
I was packing a Winchester Model 12 in 12 gauge, with 1-1/2 ounces of #7 shot in a hand-loaded 2-3/4" AA hull, and a full-choke barrel. I didn't jump, didn't even think about it. I dropped the muzzle, snap-shot without looking at the sights, the barrel or the alignment. Just .. BLOOEY!
Ten minutes later, I still hadn't found more than one piece of Old Mr. Rattler. Only found a 3" piece of his backbone, with no skin on it.
That was when I learned to love the Twelve-Gauge Shotgun.
A few years later, that mind-set served me well in Vietnam. Snakes or Charley Cong ... it's not something you think about. Identify the threat, remove the threat.
I have to admit, though, that Rattlers have always scared me a whole lot more than black pajamas and a silly-assed AK47.