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Face to Face with a Rattlesnake in the Treestand

By Brodie SwisherSeptember 7, 20221 Comment

Climbing in and out of a treestand comes with a great deal of risk. Most treestand accidents occur during the climbing in and out process. But there’s also risks involved with some of the critters that take residence in your treestand while the hunter is away. 

Wasps and hornets are some of the worst. Few things will suprise you like getting swarmed and stung 20 feet off the ground while you’re clinging to a ladder or sticks. Hunters fall from the stand every year from this exact scenario. 

Wasps, birds, squirrels, mice, and coons are all guilty of causing near-death experiences with surprise encounters high above the ground. But sometimes, an encounter with the most unlikely critters will leave us scratching our heads. Such was the case for Brian Murphy of HuntStand recently when he climbed up to his treestand for some summer prep work. 

Face To Face With A Rattlesnake In The Treestand
You never know what you might encounter when climbing into the treestand. (Photo Courtesy of Tyler Barron)

“It was a first, and hopefully a last, for me,” says Murphy. “Over the past 30+ years, I’ve climbed in and out of countless treestands and have become accustomed to occasional unwanted guests, including wasps, spiders, raccoons, owls, and a few other critters. But never a 3-foot timber rattler! “I was 20-foot up a tree replacing a ratchet strap on a Millennium lock-on stand when I eventually noticed a snake staring at me at eye level, about 18 inches away.” 

Murphy had already been working around the treestand for several minutes with his hands well within striking distance before he became aware of the snake. “My first thought was, rat snake,” says Murphy. “But then I noticed the unmistakable shape of a pit viper head and realized what I was staring at. I climbed down, grabbed a limb, and went back up and extracted him from his comfy position, tucked in the fold of the seat. It would have been trouble if it had struck my face while in the tree, or if a hunter climbed in before daylight and opened the seat to sit down. I thought I’d just about seen it all in treestands, but never even considered the remote possibility of finding a rattler.”

Face To Face With Rattlesnake In The Treestand
The snake's head can be seen sneaking over the top of the seat's backrest.

Murphy reminds hunters to be careful out there as they climb in and out of the treestand this season. And be cautious with the hidden dangers that you encounter from time to time along the way.  

What about you? Have you ever come across any unwanted guests while in the treestand?Comment below, and let us know what you think. 

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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