Sunday, September 10, 2023

Chapter 6: Snake Hunter

The Old Man had a special gun that he used to hunt rattle snakes with.  He made it from an old single shot 12 gauge shot gun that he sawed the butt off of and carved a curved hand grip from. Then he sawed the barrel off, down to about 10 or 12 inches.  He filed the end of the barrel to round the edges off, and attached the handle with wood screws and glue.  After everything dried he put it all together and sanded it all round and varnished and finished the wood.  It was really pretty.  Then he soaked the barrel in bluing for a good 72 hours.  After polishing the pieces he put the gun together.  You can legitimately say the Old Man had a hand cannon.  A very effective snake killing machine. 

Montana has a fairly large rattle snake population.  It's legal to hunt rattlers year round.  The thing about hunting rattlers, they tend not to get intimidated by anything, and have some pretty serious attitude.  

Montana has an indigenous Prairie Rattler population.  They are in the Pit Viper family being related to Cobras and Asps from Egypt.  Prairie Rattlers, like their cousins the Cobra live in cavernous holes and pits underground.  They also share a mark that creates a divot between their eyes and nostrils that makes them look mean as hell.  

These were the main prey of the Old Man and his Snake Killer.  That was the chosen name of his home made hand cannon, "Snake Killer."  

Hunting Prairie Rattlers is a fairly dangerous affair and training a snake hunter is just as dangerous.  Early on a Saturday morning the Old Man wakes the Young Man early and tells him, "You and I are going on an adventure."   On the way out the door Grandma put a beaded necklace around the Young Man's neck.  It was red and blue with a coiled snake in it's center and seven directions pointed out from it's middle.  Grandma said it was a snake charm to protect the Young Man from being bitten. 

The Old Man and the Young Man walked to a high nole on the back side of the property.  The top of the nole was a sand hill that the Old Man said was a snake den. They each had on a pair of high leather boots, chaps, gloves, and a full length leather jacket with long sleeves.  This was the armor of the snake hunter.  

To get to the top of the nole the two had to cross a stream.  The Young Man crossed first with the Old Man behind him.  When he got to the other side of the steam he started taking his first step up to get to the top.  As he was taking that step the Young Man suddenly found himself dangling 3 feet in the air staring down at a coiled up snake ready to strike and rattling up a loud buzz that he seemed to miss.  The Old Man had the Young Man by the collar of the jacket, holding him up with his left arm.  The Young Man heard what sounded like hell being unleashed as the hand cannon, "Snake Killer" was fired once.  The head of the snake disappeared and the rattling stopped.  The Old Man just said softly, "Why don't you let me lead."  Then he put the Young Man down, and stepped around beside him to the front.  The hunt had begun.

Peace and Balance,


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