Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Make A Preacher Cuss

My life in appalachia make a preacher cuzz

According to The Deer Hunter-when you’re sitting in your deer stand and 2 enormous flatbed tractor trailers pull up and unload 4 huge dozers it’s enough to make a preacher cuss.


In yesterday’s comment-folks where wondering if The Deer Hunter could smell snakes-since he could smell snow a coming. Yes he can! I’ve always heard him say he could smell snakes-but after yesterday’s inquiring minds wanted to know I asked him for more details:

Me: Can you really smell snakes?

Him: Yes.

Me: You mean you can smell a snake if it slithers by?

Him: No. I can smell a snake den. But if you pick up a snake they’ll leave the same smell on your hands.

Me: What do they smell like? Dead stuff?

Him: No they smell like a snake.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    November 8, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    My Dad could smell snakes as can I. Copperheads smell like wet dogs to me but Dad would say they smelled like cucumbers to him as well as a wet dog. I can smell rain too but not snow… sense it in my bones though.

  • Reply
    Darlene Debty Kimsey
    November 6, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    The Deer Hunter’s comment really did make me Laugh out Loud!

  • Reply
    smells like snake
    November 6, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    About 30 years ago, the in-laws saw a snake swimming in the lake. The way it looked when it swam, it had to be poisonous. Their irrational fear that it would get the babies caused them to go at it with shovels, rakes and hoes, from a row-boat and a canoe, it was quite the circus, them falling out of the boats, while the poor snake was just trying to get away. They’d swing at it’s head, but the snake could see it coming and always ducked. Once they managed to kill it, we found it was a good banded watersnake, with a big bullhead inside. I skinned it out, to at least save the hide. It smelled really strong, like about 100 rotten fish and good enough to remind the relatives of their remorse all weekend. I tanned the skin and years later gave it to a 10 y.o. boy that appreciated the treasure, he already knew he wanted to be a herpetologist.

  • Reply
    susie swanson
    November 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I can surely smell a polecat but not a

  • Reply
    Celia Miles
    November 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    My mother always said she could smell snakes (not sure if she meant one or a den full) and that they smelled a little like cucumbers.

  • Reply
    Sallie Covolo aka grandma Sal
    November 6, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Hmm never heard of being able to smell snakes. Our son used to have a pet King Snake A type which is found in California. He took an interest in snakes which we felt was a great educational tool…It came with us when we visited relatives in NC and PA . No one appreciated it very much.
    I have not heard of a situation that could make a preacher cuss. But have heard of a woman who could make a preacher lay his bible down..(One of my mama’s expressions).

  • Reply
    November 6, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Hi, Tipper
    About 50 years ago in northern WI my uncle Lenard was telling about his girlfriend who had come into the shed when he was butchering deer, and asked “what’s that” “It’s a heart” said uncle Lenard, his girl friend then said “there are two” then uncle lenard said “Oh yeah, this deer had two hearts”. LOL.
    Since moving to the big island of HI, I enjoy seeing all the wild goats, once in a while it comes over me that I’d like to have a meal. I bet Deerhunter would help me out.
    My daughter won’t ask her friend that hunts, she thinks mom is a little bit… LOL.
    God Bless

  • Reply
    John Reese
    November 6, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    I can smell snow and rain. I can only smell snakes when I pick them up. I agree with deer hunter.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    November 6, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Does anyone smell pollcats today?
    Umm, I mean polecats…Let’s hope that scent drifts away after today…..Laughin’ at myownself..if I wasn’t cryin’ for all the money that’s been spent the last few months…
    It’s snaky around here this time of year. Two of the biggest copperheads I ever saw was in November. They were huntin’ a nice cosy place to pile up for the winter.
    One, my son almost stepped on when we were scouting, as a family, for deer. He was a little feller and I shudder to think if it had bit him while we were on the plauteu, as we were quite a way from the car.
    The other one was found by my beagle, noseing around near a branch pile, next to the woods in the back yard. By the time my husband and kids saw it, I had it hanging from a tree near the house. I wanted my husband to see my trophy, and the kids to see a copperhead, color, and fangs close up.
    We don’t kill any black snakes here at all. Cross my fingers, we haven’t seen a Copperhead in years.
    Now you just watch. This spring “up will jump the devil”…
    Thanks Tipper, Grrrreat post!
    It just makes me sick to see those bulldozers, I guess they were going to take down more mountain…Now, I love venison, but the dozers prowling around would make me cuss…not for scaring the deer, but scraping the land.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    On a frosty morning and wading
    through a patch of broomsage, you
    can definitely smell rabbits too.
    I believe the Deer Hunter can smell snakes and deer, I can too.
    Several years ago I use to deer
    hunt on Tyler Branch, just off the
    Rainbow Springs Road. It seems deer like to bed down there alot
    and you could hardly get your
    breath for the wild Deer smell.
    Can’t wait for the Season to open

  • Reply
    Ethelene Jones
    November 6, 2012 at 11:33 am

    My husband, the late Rev. Grover Jones, was often asked by some of his members when things weren’t going quite right in plans for church work, “Preacher, doesn’t that just make you want to cuss?” And his apt reply was, “No! I know how to hold my tongue.” As for smelling snakes, smelling snow and rain–and maybe even smelling deer–my father was a mountain man who knew the nuances of detecting odors. All the above and more he could certainly detect by smell, and he usually was right on target–or right with his interpretation of odors!

  • Reply
    November 6, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I am with the Deerhunter! I am afraid progress has an enormous downside, as I am certain those dozers probably had some worthwhile purpose. With this bad economy I can’t imagine anyone needing four dozers.
    I always have heard the smell of cucumbers is not good and is sign of Copperhead nearby. I have,in fact, smelled cucumbers in some strange places.
    My legs never let me down in predicting a rainstorm. This aching along with leaves turning backwards, flies biting, and the birds acting strange makes me a very good predicter of rain. I cannot smell a rainstorm coming, but the clean fresh smell following a rainstorm is wonderful.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2012 at 9:54 am

    This post and most of the comments are really making me laugh today! Thanks for the chuckles. And yes, snakes do have a specific, musty snake smell…I know because when we were young we used to have them as pets (my mom was highly allergic to things with fur so we got to have snakes! Non poisonous of course). And Gorges is right, the poop is really nasty smelling!

  • Reply
    November 6, 2012 at 9:34 am

    I have smelled snakes in the wild, but my neighbors’ python doesn’t seem to have an odor. I can also smell rain coming, but not snow. Probably because I spend as much of the winter as possible indoors, huddled under a blanket wishing for it to be over!
    My mom was raised in the Catholic faith and has always said, “…enough to make a saint cuss.” I don’t know as I’ve ever heard anyone else use either variant.

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    November 6, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Making a preacher cuss reminds me that when someone cooked something that was exceptionally good, we would say it was so good, it would make you fight your Grandma. My Dad could smell snakes and I have a few times. I would describe it as musky. We didn’t have enough snow to learn its smell but we could smell rain coming on a dry summer evening. It smells like wet dust.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2012 at 9:21 am

    If that flatbed trailer had pulled in where the guys in my family were hunting, the driver might have needed a preacher. LOL!
    Mom always told us kids to run if we smelled a cucumber while playing in the woods. She said a snake would surely be close by.

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    November 6, 2012 at 9:19 am

    I was always told when growing up that copperheads smell like cucumbers. I haven’t seen that many here in central Maryland. Seems there are more black snakes, garter snakes and milk snakes – which can be confused with copperheads because of their coloring. I’ve also been told you can tell if a snake’s poisonous according to the straight versus herringbone scales on the belly. Problem is I never see the belly until it’s dead. I hate snakes and am very fearful of them.Fortunately no rattlers here. The thought has run across my mind that some day I may run across a python near the creek that someone no longer wants as a pet. Now that would be scary!

  • Reply
    November 6, 2012 at 8:57 am

    As mentioned by others, yes you can smell snakes–especially if they’re riled up. I’d always thought it was somewhat ‘skunk’-like. Gorges S. is right! It is a smell you don’t forget! Got a chuckle from the sayings Don shared.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    November 6, 2012 at 8:37 am

    I think that some very astute farmers have a very accurate sense of smell. I personally cannot smell rain, snow, or any type of weather or presence. However, I can sense or smell when the cat has relieved herself or gotten sick or when I have burned my dinner. I am thankful for those abilities. I enjoy the smell of trees/flowers and clean fresh air. I love being in the mountains.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2012 at 8:36 am

    I can always tell when the black snake is in my studio — I can smell him.
    Its a musky smell.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2012 at 8:22 am

    I remember Rob Cook say that he could do the same. I do believe that he could too. I believe in the sayings like “I can feel old man weather in my bones” or mama always said when she dropped her dish rag that company was coming.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2012 at 8:19 am

    I hope to never get close enough to find out what they smell like!

  • Reply
    November 6, 2012 at 8:18 am

    Yes! You can smell a snake and a water moccasin is the foulest one of them all. I’ve been running through the woods and leaped over copperheads, been chased by water moccasins while swimming and had coral snakes crawling up the brickwork of the house. It makes you a bit “tuned-in” to them and also very aware of sunny spots and areas they like. I have a tiny nose, but it has good sense because I can smell most critters including deer. I have great sympathy with Deer Hunter. Dogs have been the the bane of my deer hunting experiences twice and hornets once. 🙁

  • Reply
    November 6, 2012 at 8:17 am

    if i got close to one i could smell it, i have what hubby calls a hound dog nose, i smell any and everything, just like a dog but i will not be testing to see if i can smell a snake. i do know that when we go in the snake house at Jungle gardens it stinks in there

  • Reply
    Edwin Ammons
    November 6, 2012 at 8:15 am

    A man of few words and simple wisdom.
    “What do they smell like? Dead stuff?
    No they smell like a snake.”
    You ought to put that on a plaque!
    If I might add:
    If the smell of rattlers resembled that of roses, there would by a lot of faces with snake-bitten noses!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    November 6, 2012 at 7:50 am

    I agree with the Deerhunter on all counts – you can smell snow and snake dens, and they smell like snow and snake dens.
    We’re getting close to prime snake den smelling time right now, especially at higher elevations.
    You don’t see nearly as many snakes now as 40 or 50 years ago, especially in the Great Smoky Mt National Park, by the way.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 6, 2012 at 7:36 am

    Tipper–I can smell snakes and I think most folks who have spent a lot of time outdoors and are reasonably attuned to nature can smell them. It is a strong, musky odor like an overripe cucumber or a squashed maypop. Snakes smell much stronger when riled up. I can also smell deer, especially when the rut is on.
    When it comes to Matt’s problems with equipment, I can most certainly identify. This spring, a few days into the turkey season, my neighboring property owner decided it was time to clear cut about 400 acres. You couldn’t hear yourself think, and needless to say every turkey around decided it had urgent business in the next county.
    Tell Matt there’s venison in the Casada freezer–a 7-pointer and an 8-pointer. I’ll try to shoot a few more, but the meat will go to local soup kitchens and folks who are hungry. We’ve got enough to do us (and we had vegetable venison soup with cornbread last night–talk about bring tears of joy to a glass eye–that was FINE.
    As for some type of irritating incident making “a preacher cuss,” a similar saying about someone who is exceptionally ugly has always tickled my fancy. “Why that woman is so ugly she would make a Greyhound bus take a dirt road.”
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    I B Schmelon
    November 6, 2012 at 7:16 am

    And here I thought that smell was what the snake scared out of me.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 6, 2012 at 7:04 am

    Holy crap, where did those bulldozers come from and what did they want. That sure would ruin a day of hunting….and maybe more if they hang around!
    The only time I was ever put out at my Aunt Ruth was when I caught her trying to teach the Deer Hunter to be afraid of snakes. I wanted him to have a healthy respect for snakes but not be afraid. I took him to a local zoo where he could hold a snake. It worked. He learned to be cautious of snakes but not terrified.
    He’s always been very logical and able to figure things out…including snakes.

  • Reply
    Tim Hassell
    November 6, 2012 at 6:55 am

    I figured if the Deer Hunter could smell snow coming, he could smell snakes also. I think part of it is being keenly aware of your surroundings. I bet the Deer Hunter is one of those men who is aware of everything in his field of vision, even though he’s not paying close attention to it.
    The next time you are at a zoo go to the reptile exhibit, you’ll see what they smell like in there.
    Hoping ya’ll have a great day.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2012 at 6:19 am

    The deer hunters, in my neck of the woods would be cussin’ too! My third son can smell deer before he sees them. Since childhood. Too bad he doesn’t hunt as those that do could use him. Here’s hopin’ our freezers are full of venison!

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    November 6, 2012 at 6:13 am

    I’ve heard many folks say they can smell a snake and some say there is like a cucumber smell in the air. Don’t know if that’s true or if they’re putting me on, but that might be very likely. Ha!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 6, 2012 at 5:47 am

    It is what makes a good outdoors man. I heard the men in our family say it would make a preacher cuss more than once.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2012 at 5:13 am

    Not only would roaring trucks & dozers while I was deer hunting make a preacher cuss, it’d make me say a few of words myself. Also, just getting that close to a snake would make me sling out a few more words that I shouldn’t!

  • Reply
    Gorges Smythe
    November 6, 2012 at 5:06 am

    Let one of them crap on you and you’ll have made a REAL olfactory memory! (Yes, I’ve had it happen!)

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