Every year as the temperatures start to rise so do those pesky critters that bite, sting, buzz or just plain scare the begeezus out of you. We shall make the official proclamation right now that the time is officially here for the 2019 season.

It seems that if it can cause you heart palpitations at the simple mention of its name, it is already back and in better numbers than last year. This even goes for those legless critters that haunt you in your dreams.

Several have already stated that this is going to be a bad year for snakes. That statement has always confused me just a little because it all depends on your point of view.

Most folks take it to mean that there are going to be more snakes crawling around and hiding in every nook and cranny just waiting to bite their unsuspecting victim and swallow them whole. While this might be the stuff of many a nightmare, it just isn't how it works in the natural world.

Snakes, although misunderstood, aren't out to hurt anybody. Quite the opposite. They are just like us and want to go about their summer and not bother anyone. Just grab a good meal and bask in the sun a while. Sounds like a pretty good summer vacation plan to me.

That takes us back to the confusing statement of "it is going to be a bad year for snakes" again. Looking at it from another point of view, that summer vacation of eating and laying in the sun can go from a great time to a bad year with the quick swing of a shovel.

There has already been a number of cases predicting a bad year showing up on social media lately. Everything from a swift and completely calculated death strike to a completely chance mishap with a weed eater string. The outcome was the same and it was a really bad year for the snakes!

Another thing that is evident on social media is that 9 out of 10 snakes that show up there to be identified are the same. No, I don't mean they are all copperheads, they are all easily identified as dead. "What kind of snake is this?" the answer is almost always, "a dead one". There you have it, another bad year for snakes.

It doesn't have to be this way though. The number one way to keep from getting snake bit this year is to avoid them. Treat them like that distant cousin who you only talk to when they need something. Move to the other side of the street when you see one coming. It always works out better for you and your cousin, umm I mean the snake. Avoid the confrontation and everyone goes home happy and enjoys the rest of their summer.

As for how bad the snakes will be this summer, well that is anybody's guess. My guess is that will depend on how many you run into, not on, actually, how many there are slithering around.

Snakes are like mice or other plagues that happen to show up in mass in some years. Aren't you glad they aren't like cicadas where every 17 years there are millions of them and they are everywhere? Now that would be the stuff of nightmares!

There will be roughly the same number of snakes this year as there was last year and the year before that. The weather often plays a part in how many human to snake run ins there are because it has a bearing on the movement patterns of both.

The trick is to just keep an eye out and be respectful of each other's space. There is no need to break out the gardening utensils at the mention of a snake. If you are afraid the snake is poisonous, it only takes about 3.2 seconds on your smart phone to make a positive identification and in the meantime, you can even be walking away while you search.

The likelihood of being bitten is almost as good as your odds of placing a winning bet on the Kentucky Derby. Each year far more people die from being stung by a bee than they do from a snake bite.

Let's not dwell on it being a bad year for snakes. I say it is a good year for everybody if we just keep our distance and let each one go their own way. Summer is too short and the weather is too pretty to be indoors.

One thing is sure, you can always rely on the fact that you don't have to run fast to outrun a critter with no legs. Let that be your comforting thought any time you come across one of those scaled crawlers and just let it be. I guarantee it is hoping that you do because in a duel of garden implements, the snake is always unarmed!

Roger Wolfe is an avid outdoorsman and has spent most of his life hunting and fishing and writes a weekly outdoors column for HD Media. He is a resident of Chapmanville and can be reached via email at wolfeii@hotmail.com.

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