Ancient Pathways, LLC - School of Primitive Technology and Wilderness Skills Survival Courses [Flagstaff Arizona]

Rattlesnake Bites

The following article is an excerpt from Tony’s monthly column in Outside Magazine, titled the Survival Guru (their wording). To view the last 14 months of articles, visit

Beware Rattlers!

On nearly every trek and walkabout I’ve done in the desert Southwest, I have encountered a rattlesnake, especially under and around rockpiles as this is where rodents also dwell.

While writing a book on desert survival, I spoke with the fine staff at the University of Arizona Toxicology Department, who said your best treatment for rattlesnake bite is to grab your car keys and head to the ER. Using suction devices, snakebite kits, and Hollywood methods of cutting and sucking will only waste precious treatment time that should be spent at the hospital.

In the field, stay calm, wash the wound, stay hydrated, and make a call for help if possible, but otherwise, if you’re solo, plan on walking slowly back to your vehicle and driving out. Don’t use a tourniquet or ice, just plan on getting to a hospital–remember, if you were actually envenomated, time is tissue.

Around 25 percent of rattlesnake bites are dry (without the snake envenomating you), and the good news is that rattlesnake bites are rarely fatal. According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, there were 1,912 people bitten in Arizona from 1989 to 1998, with only four fatalities. One thing to note is that kids are at higher risk from any venomous bites because they have a smaller body mass to absorb the toxin. Interestingly, the pattern associated with rattlesnake-bite victims is that they tend to be male, 18-35 years of age, and intoxicated. In other words, the snake was provoked.

Bottom line: Carry a walking stick and remember the golden rule of wilderness travel–don’t put your hands and feet where you can’t see!

Enjoy the Wilds,

Tony Nester

Ancient Pathways Survival School, LLC



Contact Information

Ancient Pathways, LLC
Colorado Springs, CO


Latest News

The New Knife-Only Survival Book is Now Available on Amazon!

The New Knife-Only Survival Book is Now Available on Amazon!

Ever wondered how to handle a worst-case outing in the wilds with only the clothes on your back and a knife? Each year in North America, there are countless cases of unprepared hikers becoming lost and having to endure an unexpected night in the elements, depending only on their wits and abilities. Written in a… Continue >>>

Newsletter Signup

Receive our wilderness skills emailers, survival school newsletters, and announcements.

Copyright©2002-2024. All Rights Reserved. The content of this Outdoor Survival Class and Bushcraft and Wilderness Course website is owned exclusively by Ancient Pathways, LLC. We specialize in outdoor survival classes, military training, desert survival techniques, survival gear, survival books & DVD's, outdoor survival equipment, bushcraft, firemaking, and many other outdoor survival adventures. Privacy Policy.

Outdoor Survival, Wilderness and Bushcraft Course Website Designed by Reliable Web Designs.