I spent a few years of my life following rocky outcrops in the search of Timber Rattlesnakes. I recognize that this may seem risky, and to some degree, it was. However, having interacted with dozens of Timber Rattlesnakes, I found that they’re gentle giants. Despite having stalked them for two summers, I’ve never had one strike at me. They typically rattle for a few seconds and then retreat beneath their cover rocks. On May 8th, I had this exact experience, but for the first time in 2019. I found a Black-phase Timber Rattlesnake soaking up the sun on a rocky ledge. Unfortunately, my presence resulted in the snake abandoning it sun bathing as it retreated beneath its cover rock. I left the site incredibly happy to have seen my favorite snake species. However, my happy state came to an abrupt halt: for the 100th time in my life, a concealed Ruffed Grouse burst from the forest floor, accelerating my heart rate and leaving me embarrassingly shocked. It’s hard to explain, but think about carefully (and quietly) tip-toeing through venomous snake territory, only to have a relatively large bird shoot out like a cannon from beneath your feet. I’ve since come to the conclusion that the real hazard in looking for Timber Rattlesnakes is having a heart attack after running into sketchy Ruffed Grouse lurking about.