EDIT: VIDEO ADDEDOne of the things I learned many years ago is, ground squirrels will tell you when there is a rattlesnake nearby. Ground squirrels have a couple of well developed warning signals they use to communicate danger. The one I see most often, is where they chirp out a warning bark, at the same time their tail is jerked up and down in direct line with their spine. They do this when danger from a predator is imminent. The predator can be me, a coyote, weasel, bobcat, badger etc. The second signal not only warns other squirrels, but I have learned to read it, and recognize that it is telling me there is a rattlesnake in the immediate area. They start waving their tail back and forth like waving a flag. They wave it across their spine instead of inline with it. The other amazing thing is, they will allow me to walk up to within just a few feet of them. I could literally bend over and pick the squirrel up, I'm that close. Normally, I can't get much closer than 30 or 40 yards to them. Last week, while hunting ground squirrels with my .22 cal. Discovery, I had my first rattlesnake encounter of the year, and it was because I was paying attention to what a squirrel was telling me. I have this happen ten or twelve times a year while hunting ground squirrels. I spotted a squirrel on an old downed oak limb, and it wasn't paying any attention to me at all. It was about 45 yards away. I was going to take a shot at it, when it started flagging its tail back and forth. I knew immediately what was going on. I decided to head over to the area and have a look at the snake. As I was approaching, the squirrel jumped off of the limb, and started slowly making its way through the grass. It was very, very, cautious. By this time I was only about 15 yards from the squirrel and carefully following in its trail. We had gone about 25 yards when the squirrel suddenly crouched real low in the grass. It started inching its way up to a squirrel den that I could only see part of from my angle. We were working our way uphill, and I got closer, I could see a rattlesnake laying in front of a squirrels den. At this point I was maybe 4 feet from, and behind the squirrel, and the squirrel was only a few feet from the snake. I nudged the squirrel with my Stoney Point bipod and it ran behind me about ten feet. I actually shot video of all of this. I have pulled some stills out of the video to post here. I typically run into two types of rattlesnakes each year. Western Diamond-back rattlers, and Southern Pacific rattlers. This one was the latter, and about three feet long. I had been watching this guy for a few minutes when he decided to move on, and check out another squirrel den. They can tell when there are young squirrels in the dens. I have watched as a rattlesnake went in the entrance of a squirrel's den, while the female was carrying her young, in her mouth, out of a separate escape hole. Anyway, I find nature and her ways to be very interesting. Ninety nine times out of one hundred, when I see a squirrel flagging their tail side to side, and I check it out, there is a rattler present, and on those few occasions when there isn't, it's because the snake is already down in the den.View Video Here: http://www.youtube.c...feature=channel
Some pictures from the encounter.