Snake Hunter Snake Talk
Reviewed By: Susan Keefe
Susan Keefe reviews and promotes poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and is also author of the Toby's Tails series of children's books.

Sometimes you come across an author whose works and ethics touch your heart, and this was the case when I read Okefenokee Joe’s book ‘Swampwise’ which recounted his adventures living in the Great Okefenokee Swamp in South-Eastern Georgia from May 1973 until June 1982. His reminiscences of a life living amongst alligators, deer, bear, snakes and other wildlife, captured my imagination and taught me so much about a part of the world I had never visited, and his philosophy of letting the swamp become his teacher is one I wholly agree with. So, when I saw “Snake Hunter Snake Talk” I just had to read it.

The late Heyward Clamp Jr., was the author’s brother (although not by blood,) best, and trusted friend, joining him on many adventures. For 40 years they explored the woods and waters of South Carolina and Florida, and the state of Georgia, along with his son Dondi, other groups of friends, and the author’s canine companion Swampy.

Snakes have had a bad reputation worldwide since the beginning of time, when Adam and Eve were tempted by the Serpent. Because of this, and other superstitious fears of snakes, the author was eagerly invited to capture snakes on farms, and in woods by their owners. Those snakes would be sold on alive by the author to pay for living expenses, but also in the hope that they would encourage young people to keep their interest in snakes alive.

In this book Okefenokee Joe acknowledges that “It’s a well-known fact that ignorance breeds fear.”  So in his straight talking way he sets the record straight, dispelling the myths, explaining how they have taken hold, and teaching his readers how to understand snakes, and their actions. He explains that snakes don’t want to bite, they will only do so if they feel threatened, are scared, or their path to freedom is blocked by someone. Importantly he teaches his readers the snake hunter code of conduct, and how to catch, and be around snakes safely.

Through these captivating snake hunting stories with many wonderful accompanying pictures, the reader discovers many things about the diverse variety of snakes which inhabit the swamp and areas around it. Detailed descriptions are given for many breeds of snakes, including their sizes, markings, and their preferred habitats. It is obvious reading this incredibly informative book that those years were ones which gave the author amazing freedom, a freedom few have the opportunity to experience in the modern world, and yet they were also extremely challenging and rewarding as he pitted his wits against the forces of nature and the natural world.

Also during these four decades, Okefenokee Joe used his knowledge of the swamp creatures to deliver his “Earth Day Every Day” Presentation to K-12 school children all over the southeast, taking with him, for demonstration purposes a live selection of native snakes, both venomous and non-venomous. Generously, the author has written his “Earth Day Every Day” Presentation down as part of this book, to spread the word as much as he can about these fascinating creatures, and has given “written permission to use any or all of this chapter or any or all of this book in classroom projects to help others learn and understand the facts about snakes.”

In Summary: Overflowing with important information about snakes, their habitats, and safety when encountering them, this book is a must read, for snake hunters, and anyone who likes the outdoor life, wherever they live in the world. Highly recommended! – Susan Keefe

Snake Hunter Snake Talk is available from the author’s website

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