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.

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.