Snake hunting is his passion, and his video is viral

Published 12:54 am Saturday, March 11, 2017

A video posted to social media featuring Samson’s Kenneth Kelley, one of the Rattlesnake Rodeo’s only remaining snake hunters, received one million views in less than a week.

The video features Kelley, videoed by his wife, Kim, in the woods over the weekend.

In the video Kelley points to a gopher hole – where snake hunters typically find Eastern Diamondbacks – and then pans to near the hole where there are five large diamondbacks.

Rodeo Co-Coordinator Don Childre said there are 56 snakes total for this weekend’s rodeo.

Fifty-three of those came from Kenneth Kelley.

Kim said she doesn’t go snake hunting with her husband all the time, but she’d estimate about 95 percent of the time.

“He’s been doing it for 40 years,” she said. “We have been doing it for over 36 years together.”

In fact, Kenneth took Kim on a date rattlesnake hunting.

“I’m used to it by now,” she said.

Kenneth said he got intrigued by catching rattlesnakes after going to a Rattlesnake Rodeo years ago.

“That was way back them when they paid $5 a snake,” he said.

From there, it’s turned into a passion.

“It’s good exercise and it’s an adrenaline rush,” he said.

And Kenneth said that there are snakes around here, you just have to know where they are located.

“When you are hunting them, it ain’t that they aren’t here,” he said. “It’s that the habitat is different.”

Those 53 snakes he caught from the last weekend in January until this week.

“It’s been extremely hot,” he said. “The biggest I got this year was maybe 9 pounds. We’ve got lots bigger in the past.”

In his video that went viral, Kenneth said that he could tell when he got to the gopher hole that snakes had been crawling out.

“They were all laying above the hole,” he said. “The ground was covered in some type of vine.”

He usually takes a 5-gallon bucket with him to deposit the live snakes into and then moves them to a box, but he said catching the five snakes in the video, he knew he couldn’t get them in the 5-gallon bucket.

Kenneth said he’s gotten as many as eight snakes out of one gopher hole before.

He said he hunts in Geneva and Dale counties in scattered places.

“I’ve been doing this for so long, I know where to look,” he said.

And Kenneth said he sees plenty of gophers.

Kenneth equates snake hunting to someone killing a big deer.

“I have a passion for it,” he said. “This year coming back from work, I saw someone with a truck and gun beside the road. Anytime you see that you know there’s a snake involved. It was the biggest snake I’ve run across in the wild and I’ve caught 12-pounders or more.”

Kenneth said the snake was so big that it broke the golf club he had to pick-up the snake and slithered away.

His video may be viewed under the Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo Facebook page.