This past weekend The Reptile Show traveled north to The Holden Arboretum for a practice shoot and location scouting expedition. We have a few shoots scheduled for Holden's grounds later this summer...but we figured a short trip to do some additional scouting would be a good idea. We arrived fully prepared to shoot for the show, just in case...you never know what you're gonna find and better yet, catch! In just 3 hours of work we got some incredible footage...from American Toads to monster Snapping Turtles...this trip was out of the park! Not too many still shots this time around, our trusty field photographer Jasper Applewood wasn't on this expedition...but the video footage was incredible. With Chammp Swaggerty behind the lens and Coyote Peterson in front of it, we caught everything in sight!
The absolute hi-light of the day, aside from the Midland Painted Turtles and Northern Water Snake, was the two enormous Common Snapping Turtles. The first one weighed nearly 50lbs and had a carapace that measured 17 inches long by 18 inches wide! Only 5 inches short of the world record, so it was a pretty incredible specimen! This turtles head was about the size of a grape fruit and its tail...as big around as my arm! The fight to get this animal from the water was incredible and after the 42lb giant was hauled from the algae covered pond it attacked the camera...no...really...Chammp was trying to get some really up close shots when the snapper lunged forward and grabbed a hold of the shotgun microphone...took nearly 15 minutes to get the turtle to let go...it was AWESOME! And the footage...of it happening, INCREDIBLE!
The second snapper of the day is the real story thats worth telling...we were about to break for lunch but decided to take a walk around this small pond just to see if we could get some footage of me catching Bull Frogs. Then it happened...I spotted an enormous turtle walking along the bottom of the pond. The beast was about 10 feet from the shore, calling out to Chammp I hollered, "roll tape, roll tape, we got one!" I knew this was going to be a once in a life time shot. The water was crystal clear and the turtle spotted me as I began to talk to the camera to give an intro...calling out to Chammp I said that it was time to go and I dove head first into the pond. What I didn't realize was that the water...yeah, was a lot deeper then it looked and immediately I was in over my head, no pun intended. This was to become my brilliant moment of danger!
Some how, and I don't know how...cause I was underwater and being sucked down into the mud and water by my waders, which I must add were quickly filling with water, I grabbed the back of the turtles carapace with one hand and began to fight the beast. The turtle was swimming with all its might down toward the darkness of the mud, and the animal was so strong...it was pulling me with it. Kicking with all my might and trying to fight the panic of drowing I managed to get a second hand on the back of the beasts shell and turned him back toward shore. As my head surfaced I gasped for air, didn't really hold my breath on the way in because it didn't appear to be as deep as it was...lesson learned for next time.
Fighting the mud and water, I surfaced the beast, its head lunging left and right, water splashing and me desperately trying to find a place to plant my feet. Kicking my legs in a suit of rubber filled with water I eventually found the ground and fought the rest of the way to shore, pulled the turtle from the pond and victory was claimed...Coyote Peterson catches the reptile!
Enjoy some of the pictures of this monster...40lbs, 16 1/2 inch carapace, 2 inch claws and an ill temper to top it all off...an incredible end to an awesome adventure! This...is The Reptile Show!
This is the moment I got out of the pond...the action of me diving in happened too quickly to get any still shots but we have reviewed the footage...its killer!
Look at the size of those front feet...take good notice of the claws...and watch what happened next...
The knee cap wounds weren't as bad as what you can't see...his other claws punctured right through my thigh...it was awesome...for the show...not awesome for my leg! Luckily the wounds didn't get infected from the nasty pond water!
This is about as prehistoric as it gets...take note of that beak...razor sharp and the pounds per square inch in the jaws of this animal could crush bone! A turtle this big would have no problem taking off one if not more fingers at at time!
The camera is about an inch away from the turtle at this point...a risky little game, but worth the incredible photography that we push the envelope to get!