Creative Woodturning at Owlpark


by Harold Jones





Hoop Snakes Are Back In Hoot Owl Hollow!

image1.jpg (52115 bytes) The hoop snake can be distinguished from a regular snake by the way it moves. When a hoop snake travels around, it grabs its tail (with the poison stinger at the end) in its mouth and rolls along until it sees something it wants to sting. Then, it whips the stinger out of its mouth quick enough and lashes out with its tail.

The hoop snake is far more venomous than any diamondback rattler. It has a stinger on its tail and anything that stinger touches can be sent straight to the undertaker's. Hoop snakes can kill a 200-pound man, or a 2,000-pound bull. Hoop snakes can sting a giant tree and kill it. I've been shown that 100-foot poplar trees in Alabama have died from hoop snake stings.

It had been my belief that the last hoop snake in Hoot Owl Hollow was killed in 1963 as shown in the photo on the right. It is evident that one is back in this vicinity, possibly one rolled over from Georgia undetected. image2.jpg (19297 bytes)
image4.jpg (44866 bytes) This bowl was originally 36 inches in diameter. After applying a varnish to the bowl and leaving it over night to dry, my suspicions were confirmed the tree it was turned from had been struck by a hoop snake. The tree was about 40 inches in diameter and I spent much time sawing and chiseling the block so I could turn a 36-inch bowl from it. Several days of work went into the turning and sanding. Finally it was ready for varnish.
The wood had been struck by a hoop snake and the poison caused the tree to swell from 10 inches in diameter to about 40 inches. The bowl was turned to 36 inches. I used turpentine to thin the varnish and the turpentine caused the swelling to go down and the next morning the bowl was less than 8 inches in diameter image3.jpg (59231 bytes)
image5.jpg (41598 bytes) It is evident that the tree was, in fact, struck by a hoop snake. The stinger mark is clearly seen in the photo on the left. The wood around the stinger mark is more advanced in decay than the rest of the wood. The discoloration of the wood directly under the stinger mark as seen in the photo above is unmistakably the effect of the poison.
My signature below attests to the fact that I fabricated this story and bowl on December 27, 2003.
Harold Jones