By Audra Brown
Some of the most interesting stories you’ll hear told over a stiff cup of coffee are concerning the many and varied encounters a person has had with a rattlesnake.
The first thing you need to understand about rattlers, is that there are plenty of ’em and being aware of that, folks generally come prepared. You keep a high-end, anti-snake device such as a shovel, a hoe, a shotgun, a pistol, a knotted rope, or so forth handy when you’re out and about.
The next thing you need to know is that you rarely encounter a snake when so well-prepared.
No, you find a snake on that one day every so often when you didn’t have enough coffee that morning and somehow left the house with pockets empty and the shovel “borrowed” out of your pickup. You let your buddy try out your gun the day before and forgot to restock your pickup with ammo. And on a really bad day, your significantly-neater other decided to “clean out” the back of your pickup. One way or another, you find yourself facing a rattler with something that is in no way designed or had ever been previously considered for the purpose of snake-control.
If you are in your pickup, a good first bet is to pull up beside the snake, climb in the back and see what kind of heavy objects you can find. Large rocks, hi-boy jacks, mineral blocks, even hammers and also-hammers (large crescent-wrenches, etc…) can be dropped to neutralize the target.
If you are in the town-rig or your pickup is clean, or you missed enough that heavy objects are not an option, you start looking for length. As it happens, not getting bit directly correlates to not getting close. With this in mind, you might pull out the booster cables, a log-chain, fence-post, or as it might happen, a wooden practice sword. Use the floppy tools in a repetitive whacking manner, and the stiff tools to pin the head. (Note that you should refrain from pulling the tool toward you when executing the repetitive-whacking maneuver. Vertical motions only. With the pinning technique, additional disarmament may be required.)
So, keep your ears open and your shovel close.
Audra Brown did not borrow your shovel. Contact her at