SYLVANIA, GA (WCSC) - A picture of a Savannah man has gone viral on the Internet. The photo shows Nick Kearns holding one of the biggest rattlesnakes most will ever see. Kearns says the picture is real – no Photoshop here.
Most of the guys involved in the snake encounter say it is something they will talk about the rest of their lives.
The monster rattler stretched out in the grass in late July, on the 1900-acre Triple W Farm in Sylvania, Georgia. It was a nasty scare for the four men who were checking deer food plots on the hunting club.
"It's shocking," said Kevin Jeffers, an Atlanta area school teacher whose family has owned the farm for decades.
But Jeffers said it is not the biggest snake killed there. A few years ago his brother bagged one that was about a foot longer. This time though, after the picture of the snake hit the internet, people haven't stopped talking.
"Ever since this started, snake experts have been calling," Jeffers said.
He said they are interested in doing research on the giant snakes which have turned up on the farm.
"They're telling us the genetics may produce some of the largest snakes," he added.
Jeffers and his buddies were keeping an eye out for snakes that day when the huge rattler raised its head. Travis Timms spotted it.
"I was only a few steps away when I saw him," Timms said.
One of the men in the group had a pistol. Six shots were fired and two of those shots hit the snake, killing it. The men took the pictures of the two inch fangs, the rattles and the now famous photo of Kearns, with strained muscles, holding it high off the ground.
"It's not as big as the picture makes it seem," Timms said.
But it was the biggest snake they had ever seen, big enough to scare four grown men.
"They were freaked out by it," Jeffers said.
Too freaked out to measure it that day when temperatures had reached over the 100-degree mark. That same night Timms went back to the farm with a tape measure.
"I was by myself, I didn't want to touch it," he said.
So, he waited, and the next day, they stretched it out to get the official numbers. The Eastern Diamondback was 6'6" long. Experts estimated it to be about 20 years old.
As the days and the weeks go by, the tale of the monster rattlesnake is taking on a life of its own. Timms says everyone's talking about it.
"So we make jokes that it's still growing, it's still alive. It's pretty funny," Timms said.
Jeffers said he was told they could have collected $25,000 for the snake, had he been captured alive. But the idea of snake wrangling is not one being considered any time soon. After deer season, though, he may be game for helping researchers study the snakes on the family farm.