BARTOW, Fla. -- A hunter was bitten by a 5-foot rattlesnake that was shot but not dead at the River Ranch hunting grounds over the weekend.

Paramedics were dispatched about 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

The victim was airlifted to Osceola Regional Medical Center so antivenin could be administered.

Fire rescue crews were told someone shot the snake and he thought it was dead. The man was bitten when he picked it up.

"You have to be extremely careful with wildlife. Leave snake handling to the professionals,” said Battalion Chief Bobby Bohn. “We all know there are a lot of rattlesnakes in the River Ranch/Indian Lake Estates area. Just last month our crews were extinguishing a brush fire when one slithered by.” 

Polk County Fire Rescue is holding a meeting on treating snakebites May 23. Registration is free and available by clicking here.