Warning: some of the photos will be a little gross, so if you aren't in the mood for it, come back another day.
Last week, my husband and our friend, we'll call him Jim, took LMS ("LegalMist's Son") camping overnight. It turned into quite an adventure!
They hiked, they fished, they caught crawdads in a trap, they went canoeing, and they killed and ate their dinner. Rather accidentally. Here is what happened:
They arrived mid-afternoon and began setting up camp. Jim had brought his dogs along, and LMS noticed one of the dogs, we'll call him "Dude," looking at something near the edge of the camp site. He wandered a little closer, and then called out, "hey Uncle Jim, what's Dude doing?" Jim looked over and saw that his dog had startled a rattlesnake, which was now beginning to rattle and assume the strike position. Holy crap!
LMS probably saved Dude's life by alerting Jim. Jim called LMS and Dude away. My husband took photos. Here is a photo of the snake in strike position:
They thought the snake would slither away after Dude moved away from it, as snakes usually do. But it didn't. It began moving toward them. They moved to the side. It moved toward them some more. So Jim grabbed his shotgun and shot it.
It didn't die, so he shot it again.
It still didn't die, so he found a large stick to hold it down with, and then cut off its head.
You may not know this, but when you cut off a rattler's head, the head can still move and bite. So now there was this rattlesnake head sort of jumping around on the ground, with its mouth opening and closing. Rather gruesome and scary, like something from one of those cheesy horror movies that you think could never really happen... but it did.
Here is a picture of the snake's head, taken while it was still moving around opening and closing its mouth and trying to bite:
They dug a hole and managed to bury the head without anyone getting bitten.
And, sort of like a chicken with its head cut off, a rattler's body still moves after the decapitation, too, so now they had this rattler body still sort of squirming around.
Here is a picture of the headless body:
Note the large bulge in the middle. Apparently it had just eaten lunch and was lying around digesting when my boys happened upon it.
Jim skinned it and cleaned it (and removed a dead but still intact ground squirrel from the mid-section where the bulge in the photo above was), and they cooked it (cooked the snake - no, not the ground squirrel, too - what are you nuts?!) for dinner along with the steaks they had brought.
At first, LMS declared he did not want any. He was probably grossed out by seeing the whole snake slaughter, skinning, and cleaning process. But after being convinced to try it, he decided he loved it and kept asking for more.
Have any of you ever eaten rattlesnake? I have. They serve it at the "Cowboy Club" restaurant in Sedona, Arizona, among other places. Like chicken or pork or any other meat, if it is prepared well it is quite tasty. I'm sure the guys didn't have any fancy spices or sauces for it, but I also know my husband is a great cook, so I'm sure it was prepared as well as it could have been under the circumstances, and so I'm not surprised that LMS ended up loving it.
Now this all sounds (and probably looks) rather violent, and I am not advocating random killing of rattlers for fun. They are worthy of respect, and they have their place in our ecosystem just like any other wild animal. But I also don't advocate standing around waiting to get bitten by one, and if it's threatening people at a campsite, I have no qualms about killing it. Better it than my kid, that's for sure!
And I am glad that, once they killed it, they made use of it by having it for dinner. No sense wasting perfectly good food.
My son is so proud of his "Steak and Snake" dinner, and of the fact that he saved Jim's dog by calling Jim's attention to the situation.
And he has really enjoyed the shock value of his story when told to his grandmothers.