Paddling for snapping turtles
April 29th, 2016
Check out this guy (or gal). A screenshot from a GoPro video.
This past Saturday afternoon we had some beautiful weather and so I went kayaking at a nearby lake. This time of year is an incredible time to paddle since every animal is very active, making nests, waking up from the winter, preparing for the heat of summer.
The geese, in particular, were insane. If you follow me on SnapChat you’ll have seen some wing-to-wing combat going on. Fiercely territorial, these geese in the above image were dead-set on the land grab.
One other thing that makes this time of year great to paddle is that everything is turning green, blooming, sprouting, and reaching for the sun. Check out this tree blooming.
Something I didn’t plan on (but should have) was that turtles were beginning to wake up out of their frozen sleep sessions and scratch and claw their way out of the mud. So I ended up seeing a few turtles and having the opportunity to catch one.
One thing I took some time to learn last year was how to properly catch these guys without hurting them or myself. Many people will simply grab a snapping turtle by the tail, fearing their lightning quick snap, and end up seriously injuring the animal or slowly killing them. It turns out that by holding them up by their tail could dislocate their spine and give them a painful death.
So, last year, I watched a few YouTube videos and many people that are catching snapping turtles don’t care about harming them because they are going to eat them. And I’m all for turtle soup. I just don’t think you need to injure the turtles to enjoy some soup.
Anyway, the proper way to catch a snapping turtle is to grab the back, tail-end of their shell, lightly lift their back legs off of the ground, slide your hand underneath their belly, grab their chest/shell and pick them up. All of their weight will be on their chest which won’t hurt them and the worst they can do to you is scratch you with their claws.
This snapping turtle was about 6 lbs. So, a pretty small snapper even for our area. I’ve seen snapping turtles that were at least 3’ across the tops of their shells. I’m hoping to have a chance to catch one of those this year.
Oh, and when trying to catch a turtle I fell in.
Pro tip: Don’t kayaking in jeans and fall in. Rookie move.
I was in Eliza’s kayak which is virtually impossible to tip over but somehow I managed to do it by diving after a turtle. My phone was in my left pocket and I somehow managed to keep that pocket dry (as you can see in the above photo) and pull the phone out just in time.
Stay tuned for more kayaking and turtle adventures this year.