During my recent photography expedition in Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma, I had a thrilling encounter with a young Water Moccasin. These elusive creatures are known for their venomous bite and are considered a potential danger to humans, making it all the more exciting to capture them on camera.
While the service roads in the refuge are off-limits to visitors for driving, they offer a unique opportunity for wildlife photography. I followed my customary routine of driving the auto tour road several times before parking and venturing out on foot to these roads. This approach has always rewarded me with amazing opportunities to capture stunning images of wildlife in their natural habitat.
As I walked along the service road, I spotted the 10–12 inch young Water Moccasin on the right (north) side of the road after making the first turn. These snakes are known to be aggressive and will strike if they feel threatened. However, with my camera in hand, I was able to capture a few shots of the magnificent creature before it raised its head in defense.
Young Water Moccasins are fascinating creatures to observe, as they are smaller and possess a unique pattern of yellowish-brown bands and markings on their bodies. Their venom is just as potent as that of their adult counterparts, making them no less dangerous.
I managed to get low to the ground and hand-held my Fujifilm X-T3 Camera and Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens attached with a Fringer EF-FX Pro to capture the Water Moccasin in its natural habitat. I used the AV Mode, Aperture f8, ISO 2000, shutter speed 1/280 of a second, exposure value of .07, and focal length of 400 mm to take the perfect shot.
It is important to be cautious while walking on these service roads, as venomous Copperhead and Water Moccasin snakes are common in the area. If you spot a Water Moccasin with its mouth open and revealing the white inside, it’s best to back away and leave it undisturbed.
In conclusion, my encounter with the young Water Moccasin was a reminder of the beauty and diversity of nature, even in its most raw form. If you’re planning a wildlife photography expedition, Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge is definitely worth visiting. And don’t forget to check out my other encounter with a Cottonmouth in Tall Grass, also at the refuge.
Steve Creek, Wildlife Photographer