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Wisconsin Farmer Hunts Rattlesnakes For Profit
Wisconsin farmer Woody Roberts, of Barneveld, moved onto a rattlesnake infested 500 acre farm 54 years ago. The reptiles came down from the hills and were found around the farm buildings and even lurking beneath the leaves of garden vegetables.
"I started a one-man war against these poisonous reptiles," says Woody. "When my four sons grew up to be teenagers, they joined me in the sport of rattlesnake hunting."
Woody used to collect a bounty on rattlers, but not anymore. He's discovered a profitable market in selling rattlers.
"Today, I capture them for their meat, skins, rattlers and head," Woody points out. "There's good demand for rattlesnake meat which I sell for $5 a pound. I get real excited when I capture an extra large rattler that's big around in circumference. This size has a beautiful skin for decorating cowboy hats. I get from $4 to as high as $12 for snake skins marketed for this purpose."
Woody has never been bitten by a rattler. "One mistake can mean your last in this business. I always havean emergency snake-kit on hand to administer first aid. It could save my life or someone else's.
"A rattler doesn't always rattle when it's about to strike," explains Woody. "Sometimes they've had their rattles destroyed and they aren't able to give this warning."
Today, Woody's farm has long since been cleared of rattlers. He and his sons still go up into nearby hills to hunt them in their dens. Wally says he usually dons a pair of tennis shoes, so the reptiles can't hear him approach.
He also carries a pair of 36. in. long snake-pinchers so he can reach out and capture them as they lie sunning themselves at the den.
Most of the rattlers he captures are 3 1/2 to 4 ft. long, but he's captured a few that measured up to 64 in. These are exceptionally large ones . . . record size.
"I can't wait for a warm spring day to arrive," says Woody. "It's then I sneak back to the hills to hunt rattlers. It's an exciting sport with plenty of hair-raising experiences."

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1984 - Volume #8, Issue #2