Normally, when people talk about “dangerous” sports, they mean thrill-seeking adventures where proper safety protocols are in place, like skydiving. There aren’t really safety procedures when snake catching becomes a sport in the wilds of the Mississippi Delta. In fact, everyone who signs up knows that there is a 100% chance they will be receiving painful bites from non-venomous snakes. Some of the participants reportedly come away with necklaces made of the teeth left in their skin after these animals have attacked. This is not a sport for the mild-mannered. Fortunately, many of these fine snake catching folks have seen fit to share their adventures in the contest online, and we have done the work of hunting down these videos and pictures for you.
Let’s start the snake catching games off with this ten second clip. First, you should understand that the water snakes are going about their normal lives in Mississippi, which means they’re in the water, in the bushes, lying on the ground, and yes, hiding in the trees, as you’ll see in the photo below.
The above video showed the participant at night, and in the water, in the Mississippi Delta. Anyone familiar with the American South may now be wondering about alligators. Yes, that’s one of the known dangers involved in snake catching in this region. The snake catching teams in Mississippi must be used to the threat of alligators because they don’t appear to be giving that a second thought as they jump in the waters and go for the gold in this snake catching competition. Participants are advised not to step on any alligators, but it is a known danger in this one-of-a-kind event.
For a good look at a group of participants as they spot a water snake and decide to jump into the weeds for it, watch the below video. Notice how they hold the snake away from their body and are careful of the head after they have it in hand.
So what does it look like when some snake wranglers catch a bucket full of snakes? The photo below shows one player’s catch.
In the comments, the snake catching participant shared that the snakes are released back into the wild when the contest is over. They are not trying to do anything to harm or endanger the snakes during the competition.
This last photo from the competition shows some of the participants on the Bilbro team and their enthusiasm for the “Snake Grabbin’ Rodeo”.
As previously mentioned, alligators are a deadly danger for the snake catching event. However, they’re not the only danger. Participants are advised to avoid cottonmouth snakes, also known as water moccasins. These water snakes are venomous. There are players who knowingly grab for cottonmouths, because they want to. The more dangerous snakes are a greater thrill for these contestants. To discourage this behavior, cottonmouths don’t earn contestants any points in the competition.
Unfortunately, in the June 1, 2021 tournament two players were bitten by poisonous cottonmouth snakes. One man was bitten multiple times and taken to the hospital. While the bitten players were ill, both have survived.
What do observers of the competition make of snake catching as a sport? One local named Mike Jones, the owner of Bait and Thangs Bait Shop on Lake Washington spoke to the Leavenworth Times about the competition. He called the event a “true redneck sport”. You can almost hear Woody Harrelson’s character from Zombieland watching one of these snake catching videos and hollering out “Thank God for rednecks!”. May they stay safe as they continue being this entertaining.