Donnie Douglas
                                Contributing columnist

Donnie Douglas

Contributing columnist

I have been binge watching “Naked and Afraid,” an admission I make knowing it says nothing redeeming about me, but I mention as a vehicle to steer this column in the direction I want it to go.

I do not enjoy seeing people slowly starve, being eaten by mosquitoes and other pests to the verge of insanity, suffering the searing heat, biting cold and occasional monsoon, sidestepping venomous snakes and scorpions or dodging apex predators. Nor do I watch for the nudity, which I find wholly gratuitous and slightly distracting, except on the rare occasion.

For me, it is more of a psychological dive, trying to understand why people would leave the comforts of their own lives, strip naked and, equipped with a machete, fire-starter, pot and a primitive map, try to live for weeks with a stranger in the most inhospitable places on Earth – doing so in front of a camera and the world.

I have not broken the code, but what a lot of these folks share are tattoos, a troubled past and a desire to prove their own worthiness.

In the least surprising thing you will ever read that I scribbled, I have no desire to test myself similarly.

I have never started a fire without the aid of a match or lighter. I do not know how to construct a boma, I do not want to drink water where wildlife make daily deposits or munch on slugs, and I have never hunted or fished without the necessary accessories, such as rod and reel and shotgun. My past, while checkered here and there, is not troubled.

Also, I have seen myself naked and no one else would want to.

I do share something with these adventurers, and that is I find myself surrounded by venomous snakes, specifically copperheads. I had the duty to name the street on which I live, Cy Williams Boulevard, which honors the longtime head golf professional and greens superintendent at Pinecrest Country Club. But had I been more prescient, I might live at 1204 Copperhead Road.

Since I moved here about a decade ago, copperheads, mostly juveniles, have been frequent visitors, slithering from the woods that separate my home from No. 1 at Pinecrest Country Club. The water snakes have moved on, and I will see the occasional rat snake or garden snake. Once I had the pleasure of watching and videotaping a king snake devour another snake. But the copperhead sightings easily outnumber the others.

I do not like killing snakes, but I also do not like getting bit by venomous ones, so up until 2018 the duty of dispatching them fell upon me with the weapon of choice being a bush ax. I was 5-0, although once I did not see the copperhead until he was entangled in the reel of my push mower.

2018 is when Boots – the fabulous feline who made me known – arrived, and all the sudden I wondered what would happen should a cat and copperhead square off.

I now know, and it does not go well for the copperhead.

Boots, the self-professed King of the Jungle, does not have any documented kills. I only find the copperhead carcasses, so I do not know if Boots or which of the other six feral felines that call my place home did the killing; by my count – and I am surely forgetting one, two or a few — the cats are now 8-0.

Three dead copperheads have been deposited on my back porch in the last 10 days, including back-to-back this past weekend. When I share this news, friends often suggest burning down my home and moving elsewhere.

But why? It has become apparent that I have a copperhead-proof forcefield surrounding my house that only needs to be fed a couple of times daily.

I have put the pencil to it, and by my calculations keeping the felines fed, fit and ready for combat with a copperhead costs me roughly the amount of a single weekly paycheck a month. So, not very much.

It is a small price to pay to know that I can walk barefoot around my house at dusk without worrying that a copperhead will ruin my night or end my life. Never naked, and no longer afraid.

Reach Donnie Douglas by email at [email protected].