Kentucky Herping

darkened campground

first tin site

Redbellied Snake

Cow Snake

Jim, flying or praying (or both)


I hadn't been home a full week from my big salamander trip when it was time to head out again. I am blessed with a very patient and understanding spouse, and I try not to tax her too much, but here was an opportunity too good to pass up. Jim Scharosch, of fame,  was putting together a trip to Kentucky. Here was a chance to get out in the field with Jim and Jeff LeClere again, and I had been wanting to do some Kentucky herping for quite some time. This trip would include us taking time out to give presentations at the monthly meeting of the Kentucky Herpetological Society, as well as spending time in the field with some of the KHS members.

Jim drove down to my house from Iowa on a Friday afternoon, and we loaded up my gear in  the back of his big truck and started out for Louisville. Jeff had some commitments on Saturday, and would be flying down to Louisville on Sunday to hook up with us. We would be camping out on this trip, so the truck bed was loaded with the necessary gear for sleeping on the ground for a week. Our destination for Friday evening was the Jefferson State Forest just south of Louisville - Jim had reserved a campsite for us. Four and a half hours later we were pulling into the campground, the end of a long day of driving for Jim. We threw up our tents by headlight, and took time out for a beer before hitting the sack.

The next morning was fairly chilly, with the temperature around 50F. We were up early and out on the road, since we were hooking up with KHS member Brian Baker to flip some tin around the area. With Brian today was Steve Craig, in from Virginia for a little Kentucky herping. We followed Brian in his truck as we drove from site to site; junkpiles, abandoned houses, tin scattered on farm ground, old signboards and the like.

The snakes were coming slowly this cool morning; a few ringnecks early on, a nice Redbelly at an abandoned log cabin, a pretty Eastern Garter Snake under tin in the woods. An Eastern Box Turtle was hiding under a piece of tin, not the first time we've ever flipped a Boxie. Jim and I had hopes of finding a Black King Snake or two, and perhaps a Kentucky Corn Snake. The day was finally warming up a bit, and while zipping down a two-lane road we saw a familiar dark form, in the odd but familiar kinked pose of a snake on asphalt - Rat Snake!  Here was the Black-Gray intergrade, or Cow Snake, as they are called around these parts. This one was around four feet, and an easy target for the local yokelry as it soaked the heat up off the road. A good deal all around - we got to play with a big colubrid, and the snake got a longer lifespan out of our brief interruption.

At a tin site near the interstate we flipped a big, ugly, and opaque Southern Black Racer, which we re-interred in its shedquarters after a minute or two. This was the last of Brian's tin sites - we had covered quite a few, and had flipped a lot of artificial cover that morning, but it goes a lot quicker when you're not having any luck. We stopped for lunch at an interstate cafe, and swapped stories for a while, and then we split up - Brian and Steve were heading south to a good spot for scorpions, and Jim and I would see if we could scare up some more tin sites along the back roads. Despite our poor luck this cold morning, Jim and I appreciated the opportunity Brian provided for us visitors. We would hook back up with those two guys the next day, along with other KHS members.

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