I am no snake expert but, when a boy scout about a zillion years ago, we had a guy at a camp out that had a couple rattle snakes right there on the ground as the scouts gathered around at a safe distance. He was very informative and handled the snakes with a long tool thing. The guy was in uniform but, so long ago, I don't remember if he was DCNR or Game Commission, or? He really gave a great lesson on rattle snakes. One thing he said was one bite from the average rattle snake will not kill the average adult. It will do a lot of damage and hurt like hell. Most people die of heart attack or shock trying to get out of the woods after being bitten. Basically they panic. Some other interesting things that stuck with me all these years, A rattle snake is deaf and cannot hear it's own rattle. They rattle out of nervousness. The tail muscles go haywire when aroused or the snake is scarred. He doesn't know he's doing that. If given a chance and some space, they will almost always retreat. Most people get bit when they surprise the snake and it reacts instinctively to protect itself. Being deaf it doesn't waste a lot of time trying to negotiate. The one other thing he demonstrated was how sensitive their pits are on their heads. They search for mice and stuff using the preys body heat to zero in on the animal. Once they strike they follow the heat trail to find and eat the dead animal. He demonstrated this with water balloons. One was filled with cold water and he could even bump it into the snakes head and the snake would totally ignore the balloon. The other he had filled with warm water, and the minute he brought the warm balloon out, the snake was all eyes on the balloon. When it got close the snake struck at it right away thinking it was a warm blooded animal and a threat. I have never run into a rattle snake in the wild and never had to make any quick decisions on killing one. If anywhere around the farm buildings and livestock, I would not hesitate to kill one. Out in the woods away from everyone and in their own environment, as long as I am not in a tight spot with one, it's free to go.