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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

By Jesse Utz 

First kill, welcome to summer

Jess Shut Up


If you don’t know by now, we moved last year to the country, to a beautiful setting looking down the Columbia and up the San Poil. We enjoyed the winter with many a deer, birds of many kinds and the occasional coyote. The spring brought the colors. Wildflowers, luscious green grasses and blooming trees sprang to life everywhere. We truly enjoy the peaceful daily atmosphere. Then we heard the rattle.

Before we get too far along, I must admit my one fear. Snakes. The slithering devils of all makes and sizes still give me the occasional nightmare. I am very sorry, to those of you out there that enjoy the reptiles with no legs, I am not part of your crazy crew (you may want to stop reading now).

Some of this fear goes to my childhood, but I cannot pinpoint a time until I was older that gives me a very good reason to fear these critters. A friend of mine was an avid snake hunter. I never went with him but I was, on occasions, there when the hunter returned with his haul of snake skins. One day he returned with a very large snake that he had not cleaned and skinned yet. As we were cleaning it in the sink, we discovered that this was a mama snake that had not given birth yet. The babies now slithered around the sink. Alive.

My friend jumped to action, but not the action you might think. He quickly found a large fish tank, and within a few hours had 11 baby rattlesnakes as pets. Over the next few weeks there was a dangerous type of trial and error as he tried to keep these slithering killers in the tank. They were escape artists but he finally figured it out and was confident they would not get out again till he wanted them to. Then came the day I came to visit.

I was counting the snakes in the tank and could only find 10. As I moved away from the tank, I saw a very small snake head strike from under the edge of the tank and felt the baby fangs touch my skin between my thumb and pointer finger. I yelled, grabbed my hand and ran to the kitchen telling him what happened, I thought for sure I had been bitten. I had not, but the fear was enough for us to kill every one of those snakes right then and there.

So fast forward to this past weekend. We knew the time was coming for the rattlesnakes to come out and start looking for food around the ranch. We had been warned that usually one or two a year were killed in the area, so we were alert. Karrie also does not like snakes, although her fear of spiders, I think, is greater. We had some special friends coming for the weekend but they arrived before I returned home. Karrie had stayed home sick that day. I won’t go into all the details of the kill but I am kind of glad I was not there. Our friend Nancy had gone out to the truck to retrieve something. She found a rattlesnake between her and her truck. Nancy, Karrie, Judy (Nancy’s mom) and Teresa (Nancy’s sister) all jumped to action and knew what they had to do. Like pioneer women of the old west they armed themselves with the tools to do the job. An axe, a shovel, a snow shovel and a big stick successfully cornered the beast and then slayed it. Their first kill and hopefully their last. When I got there the women were kind of nonchalant as they told the story. I finished the duty as you must with a venomous snake. Buried the head, removed the rattle (10 buttons) and put the rest out for the carnivores to take care of. One more thing. Just so you know, we are not animal killers, just to kill them. We respect the lives of all animals and as long as they are not near the house we will let them be.

I am so proud of these ladies. An enemy showed itself and tried to claim the ground that belonged to us. They acted and the enemy was defeated. It was their first kill and a welcome to the coming summer. I feel a little safer around here with these throwback ladies to the era of dust and boots roaming the grounds. Maybe I can handle the spiders and Karrie can take the snakes. I’m just saying.

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