God Made a Snake Charmer

“An eastern Kentucky pastor wants Tennessee wildlife officials to return five venomous snakes confiscated in Knoxville. Gregory Coots, who is known as Jamie Coots, is pastor of at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church in Middlesboro. Coots handles the snakes as part of worship services.” [AP, via jwmcsame]


If we didn’t have news like this, we’d have to make stuff up.

Coots says he can always get more snakes, what he really wants are his snake boxes back. “One means more to me more than a lot of worldly possessions. I’ve had it a long time. The other three, I feel it’s my property.”

At least they were just indigenous poisonous snakes this time. He had cobras and puff adders confiscated during a previous arrest.

Coots is pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro, where a Tennessee woman died after being bitten by a rattlesnake during a service in 1995. Her husband died three years later when he was bitten by a snake in northeastern Alabama.

“A venomous snake isn’t a pet. You don’t play with it. If you do, you’re an idiot,” Kentucky Reptile Zoo Director Jim Harrison.

@jaycubed: middlesboro is in bell county, ky just north of knoxville, tn where i am. a few years ago the DEA swooped in and closed down every pill mill in bell county. at one of the many trials, a DEA agent testified that one pill mill alone had prescribed enough oxycontin and hydrocodone to put every man, woman, and child in the county into a coma.

After taking about 10 minutes to climb over a fallen tree trunk, I walked right smack dab over top of a rattle snake one time on a trail in the Obed River Canyon near here. When I saw the rattle (I didn’t hear it), I jumped back over that tree trunk with an Olympic record leap in less than one millisecond. I have never been back since.

@jwmcsame: I was hiking up a desert mountain once when I heard the rattle. Never saw the snake, in part because I too set an Olympic record for tear-assing downhill through rocky terrain.

@jwmcsame: Willie Robertson from Duck Dynasty doing
“Big Rattlesnake” from their old Buck Commanders deer hunting show.

This is from back before they went mainstream with the Duck Dynasty A&E “reality” show (actually, it’s more of a sitcom). On one episode of the hunting show I saw, they went out to some backwoods shack looking for their cameraman who was on drugs then, but later got clean. One of the guys said “as long as he was on the meth, at least he wasn’t lacking for energy as a cameraman.”

Fun fact: I’m the only person at the gym who wears camo performance/moisture wicking t-shirts to work out.

@Dodgerblue: @jwmcsame: Some of my brothers and my Dad and I were coming back from working in the fields or something back at the Ancestral Homeland when we saw a decent sized rattler on the dirt road above my Dad’s house. We jumped out of the truck and killed it with shovels and rakes. My brother reached out to touch it, but I bumped it with my rake first. It kept buzzing and hissing so we killed it some more.

I grew up in the Mojave desert and spent many years hiking & climbing and reptile collecting. In 20 odd years doing that I never saw a venomous snake. Not one. I live north of San Francisco and they are far more common here due to the increased rodent population found in the brush/grasslands. Nevertheless, I have still yet to run across a rattlesnake during my regular hiking. I have seen several (& shot one for a friend) that had moved into dog houses/water bowls in rural areas. I often run across kingsnakes & garter snakes in my travels.

Although I have never been there, it is my understanding that the Atlantic coastal region, southern Appalachia and the deep south are much more heavily populated by venomous snakes than are the desert regions they are usually associated with. And that those snakes are substantially larger than our typical western specimens. Sort of surprising that Pastor Coots has to import snakes. Maybe the local churches are so full of snake handlers that they deplete the local stock.

P.S. When climbing or hiking I always make sure to tread heavily so that snakes are warned of my approach.

@jaycubed: I weigh in around 230 so the heavy tread part is built in.

I have a snake. It’s pretty much uncontrollable.

If I stroke it enough it spits all over the place. But if I stroke it nice and bathe it in lube while I’m watching Titan Men/The Correction I can make it pulse and get so close and then pull back and then go in again with the stroking and then ease off till I can’t till it gets too much till I’m stroking the tip and it feels so good but now I need to get hold of the shaft, of wait – both hands – um yeah oh johnny earle of yeah oh yeah johnny kiss me, you look so fine in that wrestling singlet, oh no don’t push me against the mat so I’m helpless…

Someone needs a good spanking.

off subject here , but still in tennessee. while commenting in todays local paper about liberal/conservative issues i called rude turd nugget (aka ted nugent ) phoney tough. a teabagger quickly let me know that Ted would kick my ass and he would pop corn and pay good money to see the fight. I told them both where to be and what I would be packing. I’m trying to get in touch with Don King for the pay for view cash. I’ll keep y’all posted. I might need your help Redmanlaw since Ted’s probably gonna show up locked and loaded.

@Dodgerblue: I’ve got a few pounds on you, but it’s still possible for me to tread lightly.
Most snakes have poor hearing but exquisite sensitivity to vibrations transferred through the ground. I often climbed & scrambled on heavily eroded sandstone cliffs. I would slap the rocks (where I could clearly see) regularly while climbing and always looked before I stuck my hand anyplace I couldn’t see clearly. When hiking in my local brush I stomp a foot every ten steps or so.

In many years of nursing & observing/collecting herps, almost every incident of snakebite I heard about was due to people messing with a snake. There’s only one rule of rattlesnake handling: Don’t. Even professional snake milkers regularly get bit despite years of practice.

The only local fatalities I was aware of occurred in a very different fashion. I know of 2 fatal cases (& heard rumors of others) involving military personnel during large scale war game exercises in the desert. In the 2 cases I am familiar with personnel laying on the ground doing mechanical repairs/inspections of vehicles were bit in the face by what were most likely sidewinders. The incidents both took place at night, when sidewinders are especially active, and happened while large numbers of military vehicles/armor were racing through the desert disturbing every living thing for miles. One incident was widely reported in local newspapers and the other was personally related to me by an Air Force medic.

@jaycubed: I’ve seen sidewinder tracks but have never seen the critter outside of a zoo. I understand that their venom is especially potent. Like Benedick.

@jwmcsame: Just tell him where to go and set off an IED when he shows up in his Earthfucker SUV with his guns and bows. He’ll shit his pants all over again.

BTW, I saw that the old school lever action rifle is poised for a comeback with all the negative attention the AR is getting these days. Get one chambered in the same caliber as your revolver and you only have to carry one kind of ammo. Get some shotshells for the handgun for use on venomous reptiles.


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