By Justin Schuver
Hunters who travel out into the south Georgia woods know that they’re very likely to encounter poisonous snakes, especially in the fall months. However, outdoorsmen have a number of prevention methods at their disposal — including snake boots and snake chaps.
Banks Miller, the manager of Southern Trading Company in Bainbridge, said that each method has its pros and cons.
“The boots are good to use because they are thick and fend off most snake bites,” he said. “The downside to using boots is that you have to buy a separate pair of snakeboots for hunting, and another pair just for walking in the woods.”
Miller explained that one problem with boots is that they can get very sweaty. However, some of the newer boots have sweat-absorbent materials inside them.
In addition, boots can often leave a scent that can scare away potential game. Miller said some of the newer variety of boots have a special rubber that can prevent such a scent from being left behind in the woods.
“Those boots are pretty popular among our customers,” he said, noting that an average pair of snake-protectant boots will cost upwards of $125. He estimated that a good pair of boots will last about two years before they need to be replaced.
“I’d say that your average hunter will get a few years of use out of a pair of boots before they need to be replaced,” he said. “Just walking through the briers in the South will shred the laces and pull off the material, and they’ll also get moist and that will wear down the material.”
Miller said some boots are better than others at preventing all snake bites. Even when wearing boots, it’s still a good idea to keep an eye pealed on the ground and ears open for any evidence of snake activity.
Hunters who don’t like the feel of boots can opt to instead wear chaps, which are long leggings that cover a pair of pants and provide an extra layer of protection. Miller said most chaps are around $75, and can serve a variety of uses.
“A lot of the hunters around here like chaps because they also double as brier-pants,” he said. “If you’re in this part of the country, you’re going to walk through some briers, and the chaps have a material that they stick to so they don’t puncture the skin.”
Miller said some drawbacks to the chaps are that they can limit movement and can become heavy when moist. He said most chaps last a few years before they need to be replaced.
Of course, many hunters opt to wear both snake boots and snake chaps, in order to have maximum protection. Others wear one of the two, but have the other in their truck or jeep, just in case.
Miller also recommended that all hunters go out into the woods with a way of contacting someone, if they are bitten by a dangerous snake.
“Keep your phone on you at all times,” he said. “It’s almost crazy to not go into the woods today without a phone. They can be used as a camera, or as a GPS, or obviously call someone in case of an emergency. Just be sure to set it on silent so you don’t scare the game away.”
So, which way is better, chaps or boots? Miller said it depends on the hunter’s personal preference.
“Just try on a pair of each and see which one you like the best,” he said.