After I had moved to Atlanta, a neighbor, John Walton and I had joined a hunting club that featured parcels of land all over the state. Some of it offered good quail hunting however, our results were only fair at best, but we did get to see a lot of the state.
On this particular hunt, we reserved for Friday and Saturday, probably the best spot we had found, a several hundred, acre track of harvested soy bean fields bordered by some nice wooded cover. Brad was a sophomore in high school and his JV football season had ended, so I got him out of school and we headed south of Atlanta for some quailing.
We arrived near Thomasville around noon, found our hunting area and made camp. We were staying “out” Friday night, which should be fun since the weather featured warm days and cool nights. We didn’t even think about the warm afternoons bringing out the rattlers.
Rooster, my Brittany Spaniel, Brad and I took off to one side of the large bean field and James and Crystal, his German Shorthair, went the other way. Shortly I heard, pop, pop, James had already found a small covey as Brad and I proceed along the edge of the field, not finding any birds.
We got to the corner of the field and Rooster locked down hard on a point. Quickly approaching, whirrrrr, the covey broke wild before we could get off a shot. We marked the spot where the covey flew into the woods and all three of us, Rooster, Brad and I, hurried after the birds. We passed through where the covey had flushed and, whirr, a late riser, bam, and he fell to my twenty gauge, pump.
Rooster and Brad continued chasing the covey and seeing my bird on the ground, I ran over to pick him up. Retrieving the bird, I headed back toward Brad, who was masked by the thick brush and not seeing him, I hurried in his general direction.
Rooster was barking and Brad was yelling to me, “Dad, Dad, up here quick.” Running to the sound of his voice and coming out of the woods, I saw Brad a-straddle of a barbwire fence. Rooster was still barking, snarling and running around the fence post that suspended Brad as he yelled to me, “Dad, there’s a big rattler right under me,”
Hurrying faster I saw that he had laid his gun down on the ground prior to climbing the fence and the rattlers had “treed” him. He was right, it was a big one, coiled and rattling, and at that moment, more interested in the dog. Rooster knew about snakes having hunted with me for three years in Arizona and, bam, one shot did the snake in!
Rooster was still barking as Brad climbed down from his perch. We stretched the snake out and it was a good five feet long and bigger around than my forearm! My aim was true and the shot shredded the snake’s head, leaving the skin undamaged. Brad said, “That snake could’ve bit me or Rooster. Let’s eat him Dad.” We both thought of an old Indian saying, “Eat your enemies and gain some strength from them.” Why not?
We cut off the rattles and saved them, whew, it smelled like uria, and the fertilizer plants in Pasadena, Texas. We skinned the rattler and rolled up the skin for now and it really stunk! We gutted it and except for the smell we had a hunk of pretty, white meat. Taking a canteen I washed off the meat, eliminating some of the smell. Later, I learned that snakes don’t have kidneys and liquid waste is secreted out of their body’s through the skin.
We chose this time to go back to camp and prepare the snake for supper, fried rattler! We cut the snake into one and one-half inch pieces, rolled them in corn meal, wrapped the five pounds of meat in foil, popped it in the cooler and waited for Walton to get back. We saved the quail for back home, being confident we would get more the next day.
We had heard John shoot several times and he and Crystal returned with three quail. He said, “You all came in early. What’s up?” We told him about our snake encounter and told him that we were having rattle snake for supper. He blanched! Not hesitating, we showed him the large quantity of white meat and began to fry the snake and fries. After supper, John said, “That rattle snake wasn’t bad.” He was right. All white meat, sweet and tender, not bad at all!
We not only ate the snake, but the rattles now grace a special display in my great room, and, we made one hat band and one belt from the skin.