I heard a "pop" sound. My first thought was, "Hm. That air rifle is as loud as a 22." My second was, "Who asked permission to use the air rifles?" Just as my brain formulated that brilliant question, there was a second "crack", because it really was a CRACK rather than a POP. We moms of boys can tell the difference, eh? The second pop/crack got me out of my seat so that I could look out the front window. What I saw headed me out the front door.
The police were parked in front of the house and there was a huddle of guys (including some red-headed boys) all around a big brush pile across the street. As soon as I saw Caleb with his air rifle and the policeman with his 22 handgun, I knew what was up. It's something we keep our eyes open for, since we live where we live. We have snakes. We have really big snakes. Some of those snakes are poisonous, but even the non-poisonous ones are hunted down and killed when they pass 4 or 5 feet long. I trotted over to the brush pile (of course, my camera batteries were charging, bummer) to see what was up. Sure enough, they had cornered the second largest rattlesnake I've ever seen.
Apparantly the officers were doing their normal drive-by when they saw a big snake slithering across the road in front of our house. He tried to swerve to hit it, but it got away and headed for the bushes. The guys jumped from their truck and shot twice with their 22s. (That was the CRACK I heard!) Then Caleb had come running with his air rifle and pegged it. Finally, Ramon reached in and whacked its head with Andrew's machete. Definitely a group effort, but Caleb was really excited about the prospect of a rattlesnake hide to tan.
Turns out, rattlesnakes are extremely easy to skin. I even prefer them to fish -- once we took the head off. Sorry, I know that once they're dead, they're dead, but the suckers move for ages even with the head OFF. I just couldn't handle it with the head still on. (Side note: there is a slight danger from a dead rattlesnake. The mouth holds some venom, so it really is better to behead it.) So, Caleb cut off the rattle and the head, I skinned the snake and then I was left holding the...snake. Pretty gross, but in all honesty I expected it to be...um, grosser (is that a word? It is now.)
A couple of the boys wanted to cook it up for supper. I actually decided that I didn't want to deal with it, so I chucked it into the brush. Wouldn't you know, it got caught, so we had a dead, skinless-headless-tailless rattler hanging from the top of a brushpile right beside the house. No way that was going to fly. The boys said that they would reclaim the critter from the tree, so I headed in to check the internet to see what I should do with the leftover snake. [Editor's note: After reading this to the crew, Jessee corrected me. They did not offer to reclaim the snake from the tree. They were told to. We must be precise, eh?] I found a couple of great sites. "Everything you wanted to know about...the Western Diamondback but Were Afraid to Ask" -- very helpful site which I figure I'll be visiting often, our family being what it is! I think I'll have to keep it off-limits from the boys, though, because it has information about hunting and capturing rattlesnakes. I'm not sure I want them to have that much information at this time. What is that saying? "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing"? 'Nuff said.
By the time I had gleaned what I needed from the net, the boys had pulled Snakey down from the treetops. I was now prepared to clean and freeze him. Once again, I was surprised at how easily the cleaning went. I had to hose him off well to get the sand off of him (that's what I get for tossing it up in the tree -- what goes up, must come down, you know.
Meanwhile, Caleb was trying his hand at scraping the snake hide. (I found the instructions at "Brazos River Rattlesnake Ranch") After about half an hour, he had completed about 6 inches. Slow going. I gave my "anything worth doing..." speech, but Caleb has heard it a few times. His concern was that his friend Mike was over, and they wanted to play Mech Warriors. So, we have a green snake skin in the freezer; right next to a plastic container labeled "Rattle snake". Now that's something I've never had in my freezer!
Doug just messaged over saying that they were on the way home. I asked him to pick up a couple of kilos of carne asada. It would be the equivalent of ordering out for pizza -- but significantly cheaper -- after a rather tough day on the homefront. The only meat I have in the freezer right now is rattlesnake. I can kill one, skin one, clean one and freeze one, but I don't think I can eat one today!