MORRIS — The scene was familiar. While country music twanged in the background interrupted by the ping of a softball on a bat, the rattlesnake pit was still the center of activity.

People stood three deep around the wire pit where four snake handlers measured and weighed the captured timber rattlesnakes, counted subcaudal scales to ensure all were males and scanned the snakes for chips.

Amos and Joanne Osborn were back in their regular seats, recording the licenses and figures for each snake and its hunter. A photographer from National Geographic magazine captured the action for a future edition. The Morris hunt, he said, was vastly different from others he had photographed in Texas.

About 14 snakes had been brought in by 4:30. That’s when the line began with hunters carrying bags, plastic containers and even a bright orange backpack containing rattlesnakes. By the time each snake was checked, 32 in total had been brought in by the 67 hunters who registered earlier that day.

The largest snake was a 55-inch, 4 pound 4.6 ounce dark phase snake caught by Pamela Tipple of Wellsboro. When asked for a general area where the snake was caught, she laughed. “We never tell,” said Tipple.

Second place for dark phase snake went to Don Kohler of Wellsboro, with a 52.5 inch 3 pound 9.9 ounce snake. First place for light phase went to David Schultz of Wellsboro, 51.5 inches and 3 pounds 10.8 ounces. Tyler Knapp of Elkland brought in the second largest light phase with a 51-inch, 3 pound 6.6 ounce snake.

Handlers took extra precautions this year to sanitize equipment used to handle the snakes. Several of the captured snakes shows signs of a virus that creates lesions on the bodies, especially near the head. The measures were taken to limit spread of the virus.

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