I too have a lot of experience with Rattlers and Coperheads and in my younger days used to catch rattlers and handle them a bit. Can't say I would do that now, older (wiser) and have wife and kids to consider.
I do wear snake boots while out hunting seng and have on a couple of occasions had close encounters with big rattlers right in amoungst ginseng.
One year about Mid Octber we were still finding some seng and leaves were already falling and I found a nice 4 and reached down to rake the leaves and brush away from around the bottom of the plant. I like to see right where that stem goes in the ground, especially late cause a lot of the times they will easily break off from the root neck.
Well just as I was raking those leaves back with my hands, something started moving less than a foot from my hands. A 64\" timber rattler was right there just under the leaves and I guess I woke him up.
Was very lucky he just moved away rather than striking. We were way back in a remote area.
He was not quite so lucky - ended up being deep fried and eaten.
If you have not tried rattler, it is actually very similar to frog leggs taste and texture wise, very white, clean looking meat and not bad eatin. All you really have is a long rib cage type structure, and on both sides of the back bone there is a strip of meat (sort of like back strap on deer) and on a big stout ratler there can be a decent amount of meat there.