Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Where evil lurks

It was a quiet Wednesday night at the 7MSN. I was in the house, watching the Olympics. Smooch was outside, watching whatever she watches in the dark.

The next thing I knew, Smooch is barking her "mom, there's something REALLY wrong out here" bark. I ignored her.


Then I got concerned. I turned on the porch light and opened the door. I heard the rattle instantly. I yelled Smooch's name and tried to get her to come to me. She was barking so loudly, I don't think she heard me. I picked up a handful of gravel and threw it at Smooch to get her attention on me and off the snake. I missed. Finally, Smooch ran onto the porch, to watch the snake from a different side. I slammed the porch gate closed, picked up Smooch, and we ran into the house.

With Smooch out of harm's way, I could catch my breath and devise a plan. Ok - first I need to find my shoes. Running around barefoot in the dark in pursuit of a snake is probably a bad idea.

Now I need to figure out if it's a rattlesnake or a bullsnake pretending he's a rattlesnake. I grabbed my camera, went out to the porch, stood on a chair, aimed the lens in the general direction of the rattling sound, and snapped a few pictures. I couldn't remember how to enlarge images in the camera monitor, so I ran back inside and downloaded the pictures on the computer.

Inconclusive. The head had the telltale triangular shape of a rattler, but his tail was coiled beneath him. I didn't want to kill him if he was a harmless bullsnake. But I didn't want to just leave him out there cruising around if he was a rattlesnake. After all, he was coiled up mere inches from Miss Wynonna's newest napping spot.

What to do, what to do...

More pictures. I stood on the chair and threw a handful of gravel at him so that he might uncoil a bit. Missed again. I tried shooting from a different angle, between the pickets of the porch rail.

Ok, there's no denying it, he's a rattler. And by now, he was so afraid from all the commotion I was making, he wouldn't stop rattling! I'd have thought he'd just slither away at his first chance, but nooooo.

What to do, what to do... The porch light didn't shine over on that side of the railing, and visibility was poor. If I tried to decapitate him up with a shovel, it might take several tries. I decided to go with firepower and went to the garage to get my .22 ... secretly hoping he'd be gone by the time I returned.

No such luck. I brought out a flashlight and propped it up on the chair to shine some light on my target.

I aimed the rifle, looked through the scope and saw nothing. Too dark. Should I just take my chances and shoot blindly? Bad idea. My best hope was to throw something at him and hope he'd just leave.

I picked up Smooch's favorite femur and tossed it. Missed again and broke the bone. Smooch is gonna be pissed. I needed something bigger, something heavier... I picked up one of the big rocks that line the fire pit and tossed it. Missed again.

Ok, this is getting ridiculous. I either have to get a lot closer or use a much bigger rock. I picked up the biggest, heaviest rock I could find, and I GOT HIM!

I've gone back out with the flashlight several times, and he's still there and he's still dead. But I'll wait til daylight just to be sure. Custom dictates that I bury the head, as it still contains venom, and put the tail in a jar for a souvenir. Bet you just can't wait for that picture.


  1. Oh, you are so brave.. I would be screaming standing on my bed upstairs. ...there is no way I would have gone outside..

  2. Are you KIDDING me? This was an AWESOME story. I've shot pictures like the dark...trying to figure out what was in the dark with me (mine wound up being a bat) are SO brave!! And, you have damn good aim with rocks! Bravo!

  3. OMG, OMG, OMG!!!!!!!

    I have been holding my breath everytime we find a snake outside, which seems to be every day now. The grass and weeds are growing so tall that snakes seem to be in their element.(Is it snake season in New Mexico now, or what??)

    Thankfully they've all been bull snakes, which are often very territorial towards other snakes, grow really large, and kill rattlers (as you probably already know).
    I could tell right away you had a rattler, because of it's triangular head shape, unlike the thinner head shape of the bull snake.

    But man, rancher woman, I am so gosh darn proud of you!
    You cow-girled right up and were ready to face your fears and protect your home, ranch and critters from the evil beastie.

    I have to admit, now that I'm thinking about it, that dealing with life-threatening emergencies, would be the most worrisome thing about living 7MSN.

    I admire you greatly now more than ever. And I'm just so glad you played it safe my friend. :)

  4. Oh! And a great big kudos to Smooch, the wonder guard dog. She's doing a terrific job and I bet you feel much safer with her brave self around.

    Smooches for Smooch!

  5. Wow..........I think you might be a super hero! I would still be debating what to do or would have shot a dozen holes in my house.

  6. Oh, wow! I've found two snakes on the property, but both were non-poisonous. I think I'd absolutely freak out if I found a rattlesnake! You were awesome! (Even if you missed a few times!) finally got your snake! YEAH! You protected your home and pets and family!

  7. Okay, when you pulled out that 22, you just won over the one remaining member of my family who doesn't read 7MSN. The target-shooting son.

    I am not nearly as afraid of snakes as I am of spiders, but it would stress me out knowing that snake was out there and that it might tangle with horses, goat, pig, etc.

    The big excitement around here last night was Keats the cat tangling with a giant cicada - one on the back deck, and when we removed it screaming from her clutches she went and got another one and brought it in the laundry room, where it woke us up shrieking like a baby.

    I guess it's that time of year!

  8. Whew! What an adventure!!

  9. Good going! Brave woman. And Smooch is smart knowing just how to get your attention.

  10. Oh, my goodness! You are AMAZING!! Poisonous snakes and scorpions and such are the main reason I live in New England. I think I'ld still be standing on the chair wondering what to do!


  11. I echo the kudos of everyone else on your bravery. (And Smooch!)

    BUT .... As the cop in the family, looks like I'm gonna have to dig around in my SWAT gear and send you my night-site laser lite to mount on the 22 so you can kill critters like the Annie Oakley you are! Great job, sis!

  12. Wow, once again, I'm amazed at your fortitude, quick thinking and gutz.

    I'm also very impressed with your ability to collect blogging fodder under stress. We bloggers will go to any length to get an interesting photo, it would seem.

    I sure wouldn't want to take on a rattler. Too nasty & no sense of humour. My, what big teeth you have....

  13. Scared to death of snakes especially the poisonous ones. Your brave to have tangled with it. Glad that no one got hurt and Smooch is the best dog at sounding an alarm.
    My Grandparents lived in Arizona and would get goat's milk from some old woman at her house. Guess what she had living under her porch, a bunch of rattler's (pets?)needless to say I didn't make it out of the car.

  14. I'm so impressed!!! And to have photos of the whole adventure is really great. Good thing that you locked watchdog Smooch inside. When the gardener killed a rattlesnake in my mom's garden in California, he made himself a hatband out of the snakeskin - So, maybe you've got a cowboy hat that needs a little decoration.

  15. I AM IN AWE!!! You deserve a medal for your bravery!

  16. OMG!!! You are one brave woman!
    I got goose bumps just looking at the pics...

  17. Love your blog, I've been a lurker, until now. I just have to comment!
    Woman, you gotta get a snake pole! You can move that guy (or bull snakes) w/o getting your hands dirty. We get quite a few of those around here and I just give them a lift the direction they were going. Only once in 7 yrs have I had one come back and then he got a car ride.
    Here's a post of the last one, picturing my homemade snake pole in use.

    PS, Wynonna is ADORABLE!!! That IS the cutest underbite!!!

  18. You have no idea how enthrawled (is that even a word or am I making my own dictionary again? =S) I was reading this post! I LOVE snakes...when they're dead or can't bite me. And since I don't have rattlesnakes here where I am I was even more interested.

    Sorry I'm so behind on reading your posts, when I get behind I always read the oldest ones first so I haven't read what happens in the morning yet!!

    I had an incident like this, with a brown snake. After worrying about him chasing me, it turned out he was tangled in the netting, so much so he couldn't move. I put him in the garden and went to show BP "a flower"...he threw his esky at us yelling, "HOLD THIS HOLD THIS! EFFING HELL, WHERE'S MY SNAKE STICK GONE?!?!?" While I'm there on the verge of wetting my pants, rolling around on the ground laughing. LOL, good times.

  19. Oh Wow! I have spent almost all afternoon reading your posts and could spend another one and another one and another one. What great stories!! And told so well, too.

    I have one itty-bitty suggestion for you. Get yourself a shotgun. A 12g pump action with a LOUD pump--I recommend a Mossberg. Get it and Get It NOW! That way, when you have a snake problem like before, you don't have to worry about aiming--all you have to do is just "point and shoot".

    In the past two summers, I've had to dispatch 2 rattlesnakes. One was quite large and the other--the one from last week--wasn't so big, but frightened me more. He was curled up by the dogs' water bowl and I nearly stuck my hand in his coils.

    The rule I follow with rattlesnakes is to shoot them three times. "Once to slow 'em down (even if they aren't moving). Once to kill 'em. And once just 'cause."

    I'm not anti-snake as we have quite a few black snakes living around us and in the hay shed, etc. It's just those blamed rattlers. Can NOT abide them.

    Also, the shot gun is good should any blackguards make their way to your place. The "chunk-ching" of a pump-action shot gun pretty much says "Get the ^&%#)$# outta here NOW" in a language even the moronest of morons can understand.

    Well, drat. I just meant to tell you how much I enjoyed all your stories but I've gone and hogged up your comment section. Please feel free to delete this comment as I really shouldn't have rambled on and on so much.

    But I did enjoy your blog! Enjoyed it OH SO MUCH! Loved it!

  20. That's plenty scary and the reason why I am a TOWN girl. Here in Texas the rattlers get huge, 6 foot long is nothing remarkable. What's the biggest one you've found on the ranch?