During my walk on one of the service roads at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma, I had a close encounter with a Cottonmouth, also known as a Water Moccasin. The road I was on is open to visitors on foot but not to vehicles, and it runs between two bodies of water. It was on this road that I spotted the snake, which appeared to be getting ready to cross until it noticed my presence.
Despite being a venomous snake, the Cottonmouth remained motionless as I captured images from various angles. After a few minutes, it retreated back the way it had come, and I continued on my walk.
This encounter serves as a reminder to exercise caution while walking on the service roads at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge. The roads are flanked by tall grass, and the snakes are difficult to spot. It’s crucial to watch your step and avoid accidentally stepping on one of these potentially dangerous creatures.
While Cottonmouths are not typically aggressive unless provoked, it’s essential to treat them with respect and keep a safe distance. These snakes are part of the natural ecosystem at the refuge, and it’s important to appreciate their role in the environment while also taking steps to ensure your safety. As a wildlife photographer, I understand the risks associated with photographing wildlife and always make safety my top priority.
How I Got The Shot:
I was carrying my Canon EOS 7D Mark II camera using a BlackRapid Camera Strap. I had the Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens on the camera. This has been a great setup for me on my many photo walks. The strap makes it easy for me to pull the camera up for a quick shot.
I was shooting with a shutter speed of 1/500 of a second at f5.6. The ISO was at 1000. I would have liked the shutter speed to have been higher but the ISO was already higher than what I like with this camera. I had the exposure mode set at manual with auto ISO and evaluative metering. White Balance on auto. I was using single point, continuous auto focus. As soon as I spotted the snake I began photographing it. After I saw that it wasn’t moving I got lower and a little closer.
Here is a photo of a Ratsnake I took on this same day: Ratsnake On Sandtown Trail