Sunday, June 10, 2018

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy (revisited)

Rattle of the diamondbacks

By Julie Carter

Not much is more detestable to talk about, see or even think about than snakes. Not your average little garden variety green snake, but the big Boone and Crocket-record book diamondbacks we have in these parts of New Mexico.

If you are still with me, you are like the many that are warily ready to hear the stories told through the ages about these creatures that grow bigger in the minds of men each time the story is told.

The fact that these cold-blooded creatures stir the imagination and conjure up the worst fears known to man makes them an interesting part of our past, present, and future. Stories through the ages are rife with tales of using snake dens to hide gold and treasures. Petroglyph drawings all over the southwest attest to the fascination of snakes for the rock writers of that day.

The role of snakes in everyday life to the dramatics of television and movies assures forever to set the stage for a wide range of emotions. Few people are truly neutral when it comes to snakes.

These critters have slithered into bedrolls, traveled up a catch rope to meet the cowboy trying to whip him to death and fallen out of trees on unsuspecting cowboys. They've made themselves at home under pickup seats, on the engine, or on the spare tire.

I even heard about a couple of cowboys staying in an old ranch house -- one went to town and one went to the couch for a little R&R only to have the couch start rattling. Seems not one but two BIG diamond backs had made prior claim an old couch that came with the house.

I realize some religious sects have a fascination for snakes but I don't understand it. A recent media story told about a girl in India who married a snake -- no, really, not the two-legged kind, but a real King cobra. She married the reptile at a traditional Hindu wedding celebrated by 2,000 guests. She says they love each other. As someone pointed out, don't you just wonder how the family reunions will turn out? Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there are snakes. Big swallow-a-rabbit-whole kind of diamondbacks, that when they are coiled up and doing their rattling thing, the sound is similar to a propane tank that has sprung a leak.

These ominous reptiles have broad flatheads the size of your wallet and bodies as big around as a man's arm. Big doesn't always mean long, but it's more average than not to find them 5-6 feet long.

There are folks who hunt them for the rattlesnake round-ups and other assorted destinations for a still-live snake. Most of us just shoot and ask questions later, or not.

The weapon of choice is a shot-gun but it is my .22 rifle and pistol that have the most "I got'em" notches in it.

The tall boy-child in my house likes to collect the rattles off each one that meets its demise. They are stashed in drawers, boxes, pickup dashboards and an occasional shirt pocket. Nothing starts your morning like sorting laundry and hearing a snake rattle from the pile of laundry you just picked up.

This week it happened to be an extraordinarily large set of rattles 3 1/2- inches long. I was just thankful they weren't still attached to their owner.

Snake stories are like hunting and fishing tales. Everybody's got one and usually it is a bigger and better one than the last one just told.

I like my snake stories to be memorials. May they rest in peace.

Copyright Julie Carter 2006

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