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Reason being?

They, and man, have no place together, a cotton mouth does not fear man, and will attack, non provoked, I've had it happen to me more than once,

Yet you state that the snake was on the bank, and you were 20 ft away, on the water, and in a boat. Now THAT sounds non-provoked.

-Don
Ever had one of those days where you just felt like: http://cosmoslair.com/BadDay.html ?
(Eating the elephant outside the box, one paradigm at a time)
One day I was canoeing and a big Cotton Mouth ... pulled out the trusted 22 automatic pistol to dispatch it.

Reason being?

Being out with the pistol, he was itching to shoot it at something.
Yet you state that the snake was on the bank, and you were 20 ft away, on the water, and in a boat. Now THAT sounds non-provoked.

Yep, I got him before he got me , or my wife, or my grand kids at a latter time. I'm just helping to control the numbers of them around humans, there are plenty of places for them where humans don't frequent.

This bad boy was over 6 feet long, very large and very old for a cotton mouth
They no longer have any natural predators, there numbers must be controlled, or "people" die. My state DNR has no problem with people taking them out, they are far from rare, actually they are too numerous, and they are just down right MEAN compared to other snakes, they are the most aggressive snake in North America, one of the few that will come after you, instead of fleeing.
I've been handling snakes for close to 40 years now, When I was in high school, I made my extra money "catching" poisonous snakes, that were milked, then released. I used to get 4 dollars a foot for them "alive". I know them well, and the cotton mouth is just dangerous to have anywhere near people. You will hear of people keeping all kinds of poisonous snakes, but never cotton mouths. They offered 10 dollars a foot for them captured, back when I was doing it, I know of three people, who did what I did, (they were pros) that got bitten trying to catch those demons (they were actively looking for cotton mouths, in their habitat, all claimed they never saw the snakes, until after they got nailed)
Yep I hate those particular snakes, Now I love rattlers, you got to almost step on one to get bitten, and they even warn you when your close to them. Copper heads are very shy, you will get bitten if you step over a log, instead of on top of it, or if your getting fire wood off a stack, without looking where your putting your hand. They will flee if they get the chance, or if they see you before you get too close, put a hand or foot close to them and your gonna get nailed, but you have to startle them when you do it, otherwise they are heading the other direction.

Rodney Long,
Inventor of the Mojo SpecTastic "WIGGLE" rig, SpecTastic Thread, Boomerang Fishing Pro. ,Stand Out Hooks ,Stand Out Lures, Mojo's Rock Hopper & Rig Saver weights, and the EZKnot http://www.ezknot.com
Yet you state that the snake was on the bank, ... the water, and in a boat. Now THAT sounds non-provoked.

Yep, I got him before he got me , or my wife, or my grand kids at a latter time. ... are the most aggressive snake in North America, one of the few that will come after you, instead of fleeing.

Doing a search on "aggressive" and "cottonmouth" I find a lot of disparity in opinions on wither the cottonmouth is actually aggressive or not. Looking closer at the sources I find that the more reliable ones (as opposed to joe blows blog site) tend to support the position that its aggressive nature is not deserved. Regardless, the number of biting incidences is incredibly low and the number of deaths from those bites minimal. Hardly justifies killing every one you come across, especially if it poses no threat to you.

-Don
Ever had one of those days where you just felt like: http://cosmoslair.com/BadDay.html ?
(Eating the elephant outside the box, one paradigm at a time)
Being out with the pistol, he was itching to shoot it at something.

Not at all, I'm always "now" out with a pistol, I rarely shoot anything

The reason for that is this http://ezknot.com/raccoon.html

It's a funny story now, but it was not when it happened

Rodney Long,
Inventor of the Mojo SpecTastic "WIGGLE" rig, SpecTastic Thread, Boomerang Fishing Pro. ,Stand Out Hooks ,Stand Out Lures, Mojo's Rock Hopper & Rig Saver weights, and the EZKnot http://www.ezknot.com
Reason being?

Being out with the pistol, he was itching to shoot it at something.

"It's coming right at us!" ;-)
They, and man, have no place together, a cotton mouth does not fear man, and will attack, non provoked,

Years ago, my father-in-law had a house on Lake Placid, Florida. We would travel over from the UK a couple of times each year. Getting the ski-boat out was a daily activity, and as he didm't have a proper dock this meant getting in the reeds and pulling it clear. Many times there would be snakes swimming around us.
Coming from England, where the only nasty critter, the adder, is a complete wimp amongst reptiles, I really was not worried about this. Later I was informed that these were likely to be the dreaded mocassins, although nobody in the community could recall anyone actually being bitten by one.
Now I live in Arizona, and my boys and I go camping several times a year. Running across serpents is a normal occurence, but we leave them alone and they do the same. Even our dogs will back away when they hear that rattle.
No-one in my circle has ever been bitten, or even knows of anyone that has. I am of the opinion that snakes have got a bad rap.

Alfred, who will,still, gladly stamp on a scorpion.
Now I live in Arizona, and my boys and I go camping several times a year. Running across serpents is ... bitten, or even knows of anyone that has. I am of the opinion that snakes have got a bad rap.

That's because the snakes migrated to Thunderbird Lake outside of Norman OK. In my nursing career at Norman's Finest Hospital (3 years, I think), I had 2 patients with rattlesnake bite. Both of them survived, but it wasn't a pleasant experience.
I also know a woman that was bitten in her own kitchen, but fortunately it wasn't a poisonous one. Her son came over and killed it. Very wisely, they took what was left of the snake with them so they could confirm what sort of snake it was. Personally, I was surprised the snake survived the bite; Jane was one tough nurse and if anyone was going to be killed, I'd have bet on the snake.

Lizz 'snakes on a lake' Holmans

Rumpeta, rumpeta, rumpeta
Now I live in Arizona, and my boys and I go camping several times a year. Running across serpents is a normal occurence, but we leave them alone and they do the same. Even our dogs will back away when they hear that rattle.

Spoken like a foreigner...the first reaction of anyone who grew up in the Southwest to the above is "what a waste of free food!"...
No-one in my circle has ever been bitten, or even knows of anyone that has. I am of the opinion that snakes have got a bad rap.

It's got to be a tough life...the clods in the hiking boots get one look at you and their first reaction is "hit it with a shovel"..

R H "it's always a shovel for some reason...nobody ever hits one with a cricket bat" Draney
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