March 2015 Featured Herper – Kenneth Gisi

March 2015 Featured Herper

Kenneth Gisi


Kenneth with his Speckled Kingsnake
Kenneth with his Speckled Kingsnake

This month we are taking a look at an awesome photographer and herper, Kenneth Gisi.  Kenneth, at 22 years old, has been herping as long as he can remember.  He says his love for reptiles and amphibians truly became a passion around 2009.  Kenneth began catching snakes, photographing them, and it slowly became a huge part of his life.  He, like many of us has been bitten by the herping bug…. He can’t walk past a piece of tin, board, pile of wood, barn, broken down building, or any type of artificial cover without scoping it out for Herps.

Kenneth has been into photography now for a total of 7 years.  He says it all started when he picked up his mom’s Kodak C875.  After that… the rest is history.  He truly has a passion for photography and it shows in his work.  He takes amazing photos and is a master in his field.  He loves how you can speed up, slow down, and even stop time.  He especially loves long exposure.

“… but mainly, what I love about photography is that it’s able to let you see life through another person’s eyes.”

Texas Rat Snake by Kenneth Gisi
Texas Rat Snake by Kenneth Gisi

Kenneth is one of us privileged people who has the opportunity to herp from home.  Kenneth can walk right out his back door and start herping.  He has 100 acres of open fields and woods right next to his house.  I can understand the joy of being able to walk out the door and start herping.  You don’t have to plan, travel, spend money on gas and food….. You can just decide to herp and walk outside.  Kenneth says his favorite place to herp is literally right out his back door.

“I can get lost in those woods for hours, find snakes, frogs, turtles, and all types of wildlife and when I am done; I start walking back home”

Kenneth has herped mostly in Texas and South Dakota but most of his time is spent in Kaufman County Texas.  It is home to many species of snake that keep him happy.

I asked Kenneth where he would herp if he could go anywhere in the world…

“Oh man, hmm. North Africa, they have the Saharan horned viper – Cerastes cerastes. I mean, look at that snake! so beautiful and the horns are so appealing.  It’s such an unusual thing to see on a snake when you’ve spent your life around Racers, Coachwhips and Diamond Backed Water Snakes.  I would die a happy photographer if I got to photograph that snake.”

Kenneth considers his most memorable find so far would have to be the Eastern Hognose.  Kenneth says he was walking on a hot humid morning in May on a trail to the woods when he got an email and stopped to check his phone.  As he was looking at his phone, he accidentally kicked the snake.  The funny thing about it is that the Hognose seemed to tilt its head to the side as if it was saying “What the hell man?!”  He says he will never forget that look on the snake’s face or when it would play dead.

It is funny how many of us share similar experiences with Kenneth.  Most of you can say with me, when I say, some of my most memorable finds were when I least expect it.  I have targeted a species for months and even years just to have it show up on a day I wasn’t even thinking about it.

An Amazing Copperhead Photo taken by Kenneth Gisi
An Amazing Copperhead Photo taken by Kenneth Gisi

Kenneth told me about a speckled kingsnake he found this past season (2014).  He had found his first speckled kingsnake back in April of 2009.  He had just got into photography and didn’t take many pictures.  He wasn’t very satisfied with his pictures and desperately wanted to find and photograph another one.  He says it took him 5 years of searching, but in October of 2014 he finally found another one under a piece of tin he flipped.  He had obsessively searched for 5 years and it had finally paid off.  He was so happy because he had started to think their population was declining.  It’s nice to know they are still in Scurry, Tx.

Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer by Kenneth Gisi
Eastern Yellow-bellied Racer by Kenneth Gisi

Kenneth has two goals for 2015.  He really wants to get an Eastern Cottonmouth.  He found his first on this past year and was able to get a few pictures.  This one was found at night and he hopes to get one during the day and really get some nice pictures.  I am sure that he will have some amazing pictures if he finds one this year.  He also hopes to find a prairie kingsnake.

Kenneth is both an amazing photographer and a true herper at heart.  I will be following Kenneth closely to see what he finds next.  Already this year, he has shared some pictures in Instagram of some sweet finds.  Kenneth has been a supporter of HerpersGuide since it’s creation.  He has offered photos for many of our articles here on this site.  Strong work Kenneth and happy herping to you brother!

For articles within HerpersGuide that feature Kenneth see:

Eastern Racer Snake, Coluber constrictor

17 Great Instagram Accounts for Herpers

For more on Kenneth, visit him on Instagram: @viralography or on Flickr.


HerpersGuide.com Logo
HerpersGuide.com Logo

HerpersGuide.com will be selecting one person each month in the year 2015 to feature on our site.  If you know someone you think should be featured please let us know.  Email Phillip at plaxton@HerpersGuide.com with a means of contact and the reason you think they should be featured.

February 2015 Featured Herper – Noah Fields

February 2015 Featured Herper

Noah Fields


This month we take a look at a young herper from Newnan, Georgia.  There are many reasons Noah is a good candidate for the Featured Herper Highlight.  Noah, although young, has shown that hard work, focused study, and determination can lead to positive results.  Noah has already established himself as a positive influence among the herping community.  Noah is a 17-year-old Herper who like many of us, has been herping since he was old enough to walk.  He feels that the last 3 years he has really come to know what he is doing.  He got into the photography side of things around the 3 year mark as well.

Noah has done most of his herping in his home state of Georgia.  In 2015, He was able to visit Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, and Tennessee.  When asked about his favorite place to Herp, Noah replies “Oooh, that’s a tough one”.  He goes on to speak of the gorgeous habitat, awesome snakes, and his familiarity with the central Georgia Sandhills.

If Noah could go anywhere in the world to herp, he says he would likely go to Mexico/Central America or Australia.  Mexico and Central America have amazing species all around so Noah wouldn’t be picky about where to go specifically.  Noah would love to find some Australian elapids!

Noah with a Beautiful Pigmy
Noah with a Beautiful Pigmy

When asked about his most memorable find so far since becoming a herper, he says he can vividly remember most of his first finds of each species.  He says that his most memorable species would be the Eastern Hognose.  According to Noah, he really didn’t know what he was doing back then but he took the initiative to research them and put in the miles of hiking to finally find one stretched out.  Noah feels his best find to date would likely be discovering a population of Carolina Pygmy Rattlesnakes in his home county.  He found a road killed one back in 2013.  This find lead Noah to set a goal in 2014 to find a live one.  He was able to find 3 live specimen!

“There was a lot of luck involved in that ordeal, but I worked really hard for those snakes and was able to share those encounters with close friends as well.”

I did ask Noah about what herp he felt he understood the most about.  I couldn’t help but respect and appreciate the response he gave me.  I couldn’t do it justice without a direct quote from Noah.

“Every herp is a mystery still. Seemingly perfect conditions and habitat can line up and I’ll still strike out from time to time. To pick one I have really researched and learned the most about through experience, I’d have to say either hognose snakes or one of several species of salamander. But I’m young and in the big picture still inexperienced, so I guess I should also say that I have much to learn about them, and all herps really.”

I couldn’t help but sense a true humbleness about his response.  Noah obviously knows his herps, understands their habits and their habitat, and knows where to find them yet, he claims to be inexperienced and really wanting and needing to know more.  For those of you who plan to pick up this hobby, are just getting started in this hobby, are a veteran of this hobby, or even those who have turned this hobby into a career, there is a lot that can be said about Noah’s response to my question.  He responded like a true scientist.  This is one reason, among many, for Mr. Fields to be the February Featured Herper.

Noah with a Spotted Salamander
Noah with a Spotted Salamander

When asked about his goals, Noah also responds like a true herper.  LOL!  I should have just copy and pasted a list of herps found in North America.  He has a list that includes; Pine snakes, Mud Salamanders, Tiger Salamanders, Rainbow snakes, more Lampropeltis and of course Hognoses and Pygmies.  Sounds like a plan to me!  I wish Noah the best of luck and I hope he finds every thing on his list!

Noah will be a senior in high school next year.  He has plenty of time to figure out what he plans to do after school.  He will start applying to colleges where he will be studying to become some form of field biologist.  I have all ideas he will be a good one.

Noah is a member of the Orianne Society.  Noah gives this organization credit for helping him establish connections and learn about field studies first hand while doing great conservation work for vulnerable species.  If you would like to know more about the Orianne Society and their mission, Noah and I both would like to urge you to visit them on their website at www.OrianneSociety.org

 

Noah with an Indigo
Noah with an Indigo

For more from Noah Fields, visit his Instagram @noah_fields or visit his Facebook.  Noah is also a member of the “HerpersGuide; Herping 2015!” team.  You can watch Noah and the rest of us share our Herping Adventures by subscribing to our YouTube Channel.


HerpersGuide.com Logo
HerpersGuide.com Logo

HerpersGuide.com will be selecting one person each month in the year 2015 to feature on our site.  If you know someone you think should be featured please let us know.  Email Phillip at plaxton@HerpersGuide.com with a means of contact and the reason you think they should be featured.

Without Wild Things – John Vanek “A Must See”

Without Wild Things

John Vanek


 This article written by editor and owner of HerpersGuide.com

It was not requested by Mr. Vanek.  I choose to endorse his work because I truly find value in the work Mr. Vanek is doing.

© J. Vanek, IN
© J. Vanek, IN

Many of you may know John Vanek from his articles here on HerpersGuide.com.  He helped me and my readers by writing two great articles; Eastern Hognose and Timber Rattle Snakes, both of which were enjoyed by our readers.  He is compassionate about what he does and he does it well.  He is considered a friend of HerpersGuide and his contribution to our site is much appreciated.  John is always welcome to write for HerpersGuide.

John has recently started a blog.  He intends to use his blog to record his “ecological musings in more than 140 characters” as well as present himself professionally.   I have looked his site over and see he is off to a great start.  I could recommend his website to you in hopes of you visiting his site but, if you have read his articles here, I am sure you do not need my recommendation.  Regardless, I would like to formally recommend John Vanek’s personal blog to my readers.

withoutwildthings.com

Please take the time to visit his site and follow him as he adds another notch in his belt.  John is a high-class writer.  I have enjoyed everything I have read from him.  Be sure to check out his first blog entry, where he fact-checks a show I watch with my 3-year-old son.  He looks over “The Wildlife Thornberrys”.  It is a fun read.  I also learned how accurate the show is!  I am going to continue to encourage my kid to watch it.  There isn’t much out there.

Thanks again to John for your work on our website and your continued conservation efforts in other ways!

To the readers; thanks again for stopping in.  I can’t share with you enough how much I enjoy being able to offer you this website.  Be kind to one another.  Be kind to the environment.  Be sure to catch and release.  Happy Herping!

Phillip

17 Great Instagram Accounts for Herpers

17 Great Instagram Accounts for Herpers


Instagram’s Best Herping Accounts

 

Instagram logo
Instagram logo

Hey Guys!

Are you new to Instagram?  Are you new to Herping?  Are you just looking for some amazing Instagramers to follow?  If you are, you have come to the right place.  As we are nearing the next “herping season” I thought it might be a good idea to post some of the great Instagram accounts I follow.  In this post, I will share with you some of my favorite Herping Instagram accounts.  These accounts are top-notch.  They each bring something great to the table.  In no particular order, here we go…..

17.    johngarrisonphotography

John Garrison

John is a 17y/o photographer from Maryland.  He offers some great shots of Herps and birds.  He has shared his work with HerpersGuide.com and is an account I truly enjoy following.  Be sure to check out John and his work by following his instagram account!  You will not be disappointed.  He also has a YouTube channel and you can get the link from his Instagram Bio.

16.    bill_nye_the_herper_guy

Bill Barham

Bill is a great herper I met this year.  He came down and did some Herping with my wife, kid, and I this past fall.  We had a great time!  Several of the photos on my account in October and November are from the week he spent down my way.  He and I found a lot of herps.  We photographed and released several species in the short time he visited the NC coast.  Bill has managed to do a bit of traveling.  His account has a variety of herps from all over.  Be sure to check out his account.

15.    tkennedyfour

Taylor Kennedy

Taylor is a 19 y/o herper from Canada!  He is now an Ecosystem Management Student.  His account is great!  He offers great reptiles in a very photogenic way.  You should check it out.  Taylor will be working this year on two priorities for Ontario species.  He is targeting the Blue Racer and the Eastern Fox Snake.  HerpersGuide.com will be following close to see what happens this year.  We are hoping to give an update to our Eastern Racer article based on any findings he has this year.  I recommend this account and wish him luck with his Ontario targets this year!!

14.    tx_snakewrangler

Shaun Hayes

This is likely one of my most favorite Instagram accounts of all time!  This guy is an amazing guy who has a very balanced account.  He shares great finds and shares some of his personal pets with us as well.  Shaun was one of the first people I began following on Instagram and was one of the first people to follow me that I didn’t already know!  He would comment and give me strength to keep going.  Without people like him encouraging me, HerpersGuide.com come would likely not exist.  Check out his account!

13.    hawkinsherping

Hawkins Herping

This account, managed by four brothers who all share a passion for Herping.  Their account has some great finds.  These guys have really been a joy for me to follow.  They were one of the first accounts I began following when I became active on Instagram.  I have been a fan ever since.  Their photographs have steadily improved during the time I have followed them.  I look forward to seeing each picture they post.  They have contributed many photographs shared in articles found on this site.  They were a primary contributor on the Rat Snake Feature we are working on.  I strongly recommend following this account!  Check them out and be sure to let them know you found them here on HerpersGuide.com.

12.    aaroncrank

Aaron Crank

Aaron is a Southern Ohio reptile enthusiast who has plans to become a herpetologist.  Looking through his Instagram account, it’s easy to see that passion first hand.  Aaron has some great finds and you can track his work by following his account.  He also has a newly started YouTube channel you can find the link for in his Instagram bio.  Be sure to check him out!

11.    viralography

Kenneth Gisi

There is no way to discribe this account without getting you to visit it first hand.  This account is one of my most favorite.  This account has nothing by high quality photos on it.  To call Kenneth an amazing photographer is an understatement.  Kenneth is well-respected here at HerpersGuide.com.  He has provided many photos for our use.  He provided the feature image for the Eastern Racer article.  This article has become one of the most viewed articles here at HerpersGuide!  I can’t help but think that Kenneth’s racer image is partly responsible for this response.

10.    SXBLUR51

Aaron Short

Aaron Short is from Central Oklahoma.  He has over 1.6k followers and his followers grow every day.  His account consists of snakes, salamanders, lizards, and any other herp that finds its way into his lens.  His account is well-balanced between his love for herpetology and other interest.  You can find the occasional bird of prey or even a shout out to his gal, who he gives credit for getting him into herping and photography.  Aaron Short was HerpersGuide.com January 2015 Featured Herper.

9.     Big_River_Herping

Kaleb

Kalab is the man behind big_river_herping.  At 14 y/o, he is busting out some great stuff.  Kalab is from Northern Illinois and loves his herps!  With his Canon sx170 in hand, Kalab has captured some amazing photographs of some awesome animals.  Turtles, frogs, and snakes make up the majority of his post.  Please be sure to check out this cool kid!

8.     Zacharge

Zach Lim

Zach is a San Francisco native with an interest in herpetology, field herping, fishing and wildlife photography.  When Zach is out herping, he captures his shots with a Canon Rebel T3i.  This guy is the real deal.  The majority of his account consist of, you guessed it, Herps!  Zach does a great job of balancing his Herp shots with the occasional glimpse into his life outside of herping.  He shares images of friends and family, and pictures of his band.  It is just the right balance of mostly herping with a little of Zach outside of that hobby that dominates his account.  He is a must follow.  Zach is a blogger and maintains a tumblr.com account.  You can find the link to his blog on his Instagram profile.  Zach has written for HerpersGuide.com and you can find it Here.

7.     NJHERPER

Emre Cayir

This kid is amazing!  Emre is a field herper from New Jersey.  His account is filled with photos he has taken.  Frogs, Salamanders, Lizards, Turtles, and Snakes, you name it he’s got it.  If you are new to herping or a veteran, his account is a must.  He comes highly recommended by HerpersGuide.com!

6.     Itrains4days

Justin (NoNameKey)

Justin is an amazing photographer and his account will back it up.  His Instagram account is full of Herps, birds, and other nature related shots.  If you are into Herps and need an account to follow, NoNameKey is a must on your list of people you follow.  I have enjoyed his work for some time now.  He has also donated several pictures that are found throughout the articles here at HerpersGuide.com.  Here and here are a couple of articles.  Be sure to check out his work.  He also has a flickr account that is in his profile description.

5.     swamprattler

Nick

This is most defiantly an account worthy of being followed by any herper!  This guy has some great finds and does a great job capturing their beauty in his photographs.  He has a great variety of herps.  You will get great bird shots also.  He is a great herper and his photography will leave you in awe.  You got to see it for your self.  Check out the swamprattler.  He has also contributed to the Copperhead article here on HerpersGuide.com as well. His Copperhead photo became the feature image.

4.     jryanherps

JryanHerps

This 23y/o Oklahoma Herper and all around nature lover will amaze you with his finds and his photography.  The account is full of herps.  I have followed him for some time.  In the beginning, I seen voucher shots of some amazing animals.  I then seen a post were his Christmas present came early and instantly a photographer was born.  His newest shots will amaze you.  This is a must have account on your follow list.

3.     JadedHerper

Josh Young

“Herp Better.”  “Georgia boy who prefers his snakes alive not dead.”  “The only good snake is a live snake.”  “Photographer of nature but mostly herps.”  These are all quotes from his Instagram profile.  His account brings those messages home!  This guy knows his Herps.  I always enjoy checking out what Josh is sharing.  Be sure to follow this guy!

2.     snakemannick

Snakemannick is a 22 y/o field herper with some amazing finds!!  This account features some great reptiles that are photographed nicely.  When you are visiting this account, you cant help but appreciate these amazing animals.  This is a must follow account.  At 3.3k followers, it is clear the rest of the herping community agrees.

1.     kameron_agkistrodon_burgess

This account is off the chain!!  This 22 y/o herper goes by the name of Agkistrodon burgessi, although it’s a funny little scientific name joke, his account is no joke.  This account features some amazing photography of some stellar reptiles.  His account is a combination of both captive bred subjects and those he has found in the field.  This is an account every reptile lover must follow.  Be sure to check it out.

So, like I said before, these accounts are in no particular order.  They each have something to offer to the herping community.  I recommend you check each of them out.  I would also like to point out that I follow many accounts on Instagram and there is no way I could post all the accounts I enjoy on this post.  For all the accounts I follow, check out my “following” list on my personal account at plaxton53.  Thanks for visiting today.  Be sure to leave a comment below with your Instagram account or an account you think others should know about!  Thanks again.

Be kind to each other.  Be kind to the environment.  Always catch and release and, Happy Herping!!

Phillip

January 2015 Featured Herper – Aaron Short

January 2015 Featured Herper

Aaron Short


Western Pygmy Rattlesnake Aaron Short
Aaron’s Lifer Western Pygmy Rattlesnake
Aaron Short

This month we take a look at a young herper from Oklahoma.  At 20 years old Aaron Short and has 3 herping seasons under his belt.  He is a herping force that shouldn’t be ignored.  His photos are amazing as well.  This guy is no joke.  In just 3 Herping seasons, he has managed to find 125 species!  He has located over 100 species who call Oklahoma home.  In addition to Oklahoma, Aaron has done some herping in New Mexico and Arizona.  He even got to do an hour of herping in Louisiana.  Hey, herping is herping!

Aaron has managed to build a substantial Herping resume.

[table caption=”Herping Totals” width=”500″ colwidth=”100|100″ colalign=”left|center”]
Species,Finds,
Salamanders,3
Frogs & Toads,24
Turtles,12
Lizards,38
Snakes,50
[/table]

Aaron has found 45 of the 56 Oklahoma Snake Species!

Aaron says he got into Herping early in the 2012 Herping Season because of his girlfriend, Brittany Wheeler (@bits_of_skittles) and her brother, Killian Wheeler (@brutalis69).

The Unicorn of Oklahoma (Scarlet Snake) Aaron Short
The Unicorn of Oklahoma (Scarlet Snake)
Aaron Short

Aaron has only been taking pictures of his herps this past season (Herping 2014).  You wouldn’t believe it if you took a look at his Instagram account.  It is obvious Aaron has photography talent.  He credits his good friend Adam for the skills he has obtained thus far in his photography.  Be sure to check out Adam’s work on his Instagram @professor_pouncey.

Aaron attributes most of his knowledge about North American Herpetology from extensive studying of the internet, books, his girl friend Brittany and her brother Killian, and the experiences he has had in the field.

I think there is no better way to broaden your knowledge about herps than encountering them in the field. ~ Aaron Short

He feels that the species he knows the best would be Eastern Hog-nosed Snake, Timber Rattlesnakes, Massasauga Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, and Coachwhips.

Speckled Kingsnake (lampropeltis holbrooki) Aaron Short
Speckled Kingsnake (lampropeltis holbrooki)
Aaron Short

When asked about his favorite herp that he is found, Aaron told me about a blacktail rattlesnake he found while in Arizona.  On the radar for the 2015 herping season, Aaron says he will be hoping for a Oklahoma Milk Snake or a Oklahoma mud snake.

Aaron and I talked a few minutes about lifers.  I shared with him my personal story with mud snakes in NC.  Found one just to watch it get hit while I was pulling over and another I found alive just to discover it had fatal injuries from being hit before I found it.  Aaron shared with me his story about what would have been a lifer for him.  The prairie rattlesnake is the only venomous snake left in Oklahoma for him.  He watched one get ran over by a passing car while attempting to stop for the snake.  He described it as a tough blow.  We were able to feel the pain of being so close but too late.

 Aaron is a member of the Oklahoma City Herpetological & Invertebrate Society (OCHIS)

For more from Aaron Short, visit his Instagram @sxblur51 or visit his FaceBook.


HerpersGuide.com Logo
HerpersGuide.com Logo

HerpersGuide.com will be selecting one person each month in the year 2015 to feature on our site.  If you know someone you think should be featured please let us know.  Email Phillip at plaxton@HerpersGuide.com with a means of contact and the reason you think they should be featured.