Love Bites

Hiss Majesty

“Dad, a snake!”  my 5 year old peered in the doorway.

5 minutes later, my husband had scooped the rattler onto a shovel.  Like a captive king, the reptile snarled on his elevated throne, licking the air evilly, and shaking his scepter at us.  I took a few photos, then we slid him off into a large blue bucket.

“When you head out, would you let him free away from the house at the edge of The Land?” My husband asked.

“Only if you reassure me he can’t get out.”

“Of course not.” My husband brushed his knuckles against my cheek and I knew how lucky I was.

A bit later, I hopped into the car as my husband went to get the bucket.

As soon as his hand touched the wire handle, like a spring released from tight quarters, the snake threw himself, teeth bared, for Kevin’s arm.  The rattler managed to fling himself over the side, nearly onto my husband, and nearly managed to writhe away before being recaptured , shoveled back into the bucket and covered with a cloth.

Following my husband’s direction again, my son and I placed the bucket at my son’s feet and,  a few minutes later,  we released the still hissing rattler in an uninhabited spot.

All the rest of the drive, I wondered why after 3 lovely but unplanned sons, I was still willing, on my husband’s reassurance alone, to put a open bucket with large rattler at the feet of my beautiful middle son in a small closed car.

Love bites.



  • I have a great respect for snakes, especially rattlers, but I think I would have said, “No, you go release him.” The only way I would have done it is if I could have had a bucket with a tight lid, (and a breathing hole) and a way to open it by remote control. Although intellectually I know that rattler bites are not that fatal compared with some other snakes, I prefer to stay out of their way. Maybe that’s why I live in Western Washington, which has no venomous snakes. Kudos for the catch and release, though, so he can go on eating varmints.

  • If I didn’t know you so well, I would respond to your last sentence with “stupidity?” But I know that’s not the case. I’m afraid with venemous snakes I wouldn’t be doing the catch and release thing. I’d be doing the shotgun thing.

  • I love it there in winter, when streams are full and snows and rains come and everything is so so green. In summer? When the bears wake up and the snakes come out, the streams go dry and dust is on every road clinging to every surface? Not so much.

  • Oh boy snake stories! Once,when I lived at the Swamp, I looked out the kitchen window to see one of the outdoor cats jumping around on the driveway. I went out and,sure enough, she was baiting a rattlesnake which was coiling and striking. The cat knew what she was doing and stayed just out of reach. I did the shovel and bucket thing and took it off into the woods.

  • Ok, who is going to explain to me exactly how you get a rattlesnake into a bucket with a shovel? Sounds like trying to eat peas with a knife!

  • You sound so calm about it all Kym. Finding a venomous snake anywhere within miles of my family would really unsettle me. Glad you are all safe and sound.

  • Oh man. I could never have done it. But I am also irrationally afraid of any snake, even harmless ones.

  • In order to catch a snake with a shovel, the first thing you need is a tool with a really loooooooooooong handle 8)

  • Like a “ten foot pole”? LOL

    BTW I like the title of the picture “Hiss Majesty”.

  • 10 foot sounds about right…

    Quinn and I came up with the title. We were both as respectful of him as if he had been King.

  • Catching and releasing venomous snakes depends on the boundaries you set on “your” territory and defines a boundary between your interpretation of roaming grounds that are yours and wild roaming grounds you consider outside your turf. You do not see the ranchers doing that. For them, they may not be roaming all the land but what they do not roam, their cattle does. And, at the end of their fences? Someone else’s cattle is roaming there. And they do not release venomous snakes. I have never had to make the choice. But while I was on a ranch, the ranch guys made that choice a lot and the snakes did not win and my ankles lived safer because of it.

  • It’s a hard decision to let a rattler go sometimes. They have large territories and the one you set free today could be the one that bites your kid tomorrow. But, having said that, living in the country my whole life, I’ve only known two rattlesnake bites–one a two year old and one a woman who thought her water line was leaking and reached into tall grass. Both survived relatively easily.

    They scare me but the world would be poorer without them.

  • I have known people who lost animals to snake bite. It would be hard for me to kill a snake though.

  • Ernie? In our neck of the woods, it would have been deader than a door nail. The shovel being the guillitine. With little kids around and you probably don’t own a snake bite kit as we all did, one less rattler wouldn’t have made that big of difference.

    Rattlers and Black Widows. Dead upon first sight.

  • Eko, I’ve killed two rattlers in my life. One with a pistol outside the back door (my husband called me Annie Oakley for awhile ’cause though I’m normally a decent shot, I was so scared by how close it came to one of my kids, I shot at least 6 times. The other I used the shovel as a guillitine. But, as I’ve gotten older and less afraid I’ve realized there are too little wild and scary things left in this world. I want my grandkids to have a taste of the power that moves. That said, Black Widows have to be a long way from my house before I spare them.

  • Bravo Kym, I do agree that the world needs scary things. Though I have to admit to killing a few rattlers. Every snakebite I know of has been the result of either stepping on the snake or trying to pick it up. One guy picked up a baby and got bit on the finger. My beloved ex grabbed the snake thinking it was a broken water pipe. A neighbor stepped on one walking barefoot at night and my favorite was a gal who intentionally had a snake bite her to get “snake medicine”. It’s true… only in Salmon Creek.

  • Ben, who had a snake bite her on purpose? Someone still here?

  • My favorite part of this story is the “trust me Part”. I was riding the quad up a hilll and tam said “I think it is to steep”. “Trust Me”, I said. To broken ribs later I learned not to say “trust me”

  • Mostly Kevin is pretty sound in his decisions but….

  • It is not that hard to step on snakes. I have done it. Fortunately for me garter snakes are not venomous. They sure do get riled up about it though.

  • Kym, She lived in a little rented cabin on (then) Lynette and Dennis Bourassa’s place on lower Thomas. As I recall, she had a daughter but I’m not even sure I ever knew her name. Picked her up hitching once. It’s been awhile. Not too long after Sharon’s bite which happened in ’83 as it was getting warm. After that, I would hear her scream in the garden and know it was another rattler. They liked to hang out by the sprinklers when it was hot and then when you went to move the sprinkler, Watch Out! Boy! Time does fly.

  • We usually get a couple of them a year. I’ll have to tell some of the stories some other post.

  • I for one applaud your family’s decision to be kind to the rattler. We so often forget that they too share this planet and just because they can be dangerous and a nuisance doesn’t mean we can’t respect their right to live.

    That said….the idea he was safe in a bucket is crazy gurlfriend! As you learned, snakes can spring themselves quite a distance. Good life lesson for all concerned.

    But what a chance for a photograph! Great job as usual.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *