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Snake Tails

In South Texas where my Grandpa Sewell was raised, snakes are a big deal…A really BIG deal. Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes of six feet and longer are common. In the summer and fall 0f 1972, when I lived with my grandparents, we tanned a rattlesnake skin that was over eight feet long and about eighteen inches wide at the widest point. Grandpa was quite proud of the fact that he shot the head off the snake at 20 to 30 yards as it crawled across a right-of-way where his deer stand was located. At least that was the story he told. You have to understand my Grandpa, he was prone to tall tales. He just loved pulling the wool over the eyes of gullible grandkids. His favorite day of the year was April 1. The world was always full of April Fools and he loved every one of them.

The Stick

One of the tales Grandpa loved to tell was of the Rattler we walked up on on the first night my family visited the ranch in the ’60’s.

When we arrived it was already late and the sun was setting. Grandma and Grandpa had just recently had a two bedroom house built but were still using the small hunting trailer for storage. With four adults and four kids we needed bedding for the night. So Grandpa led a small caravan of children on a hike to the trailer for sleeping bags. As we walked thru the dark led by Grandpa and his flashlight he was regaling us with all of the dangers of the night in south Texas. He was telling us about wolves and coyotes, huge owls that could lift a child by the hair, and rattlesnakes. To this day I can remember his words, “You have to keep your eyes on the ground at all times around here ’cause there are rattlesnakes under every bush” and with that he swung the light over and said “there’s one now” and damned if there wasn’t.

“Get me a stick” Grandpa instructed. My two brothers hauled it for the house while I tried to see a stick on the ground around me.

“Here’s one” my sister said as she handed Grandpa a stick.

It was only a matter of seconds before Grandpa dispatched the rattler, then he turned to my sister and asked her, “How did you know that wasn’t another snake?”

Her answer was “I kicked it first”.

Grandpa told that story for the rest of his life…”I kicked it first” was the punch line he loved.

To be continued in…

Waking up a Rattler