by Randy King
When spring finally rolled around, I headed to the Owyhee canyons to chase feral pigeons. And then my dog nearly had an encounter with a rattlesnake.
My dog is naturally inquisitive—she's a bird dog. When she saw the rattlesnake, my father had to restrain her with his belt to keep her from getting bit. In the end, my feral pigeon hunt was a bust—but since I did not end up with a bird in the hand, I decided to take the snake in the bush.
You should avoid rattlesnakes at all costs. I do. But over the years, I have learned how to safely dispatch a snake so I feel comfortable harvesting them. I do not endorse harvesting rattlesnakes by anyone who is not trained, but these are the steps I take:
No. 1: When I hear the rattling, I back away from the snake and find a big rock and a long, sturdy stick.
No. 2: I use the rock to crush the snake as close to its head as possible. This will break its back and shorten the distance that it will be able to strike at me.
No. 3: I use the stick to pin the snake down and then step on the snake right at the base of its head. I never leave any room behind the head or the snake will try to strike me.
No. 4: I cut off the snake's head.
No. 5: I bury the head.
No. 6: I put the snake in a bag, put the bag in my pack and think about how glad I am to be taking something home for dinner.
Idaho does not have a season for snakes. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game lets a person take up to four rattlesnakes per day with no more than five in his or her possession.
I took the rattler home, skinned and cooked it. I recently learned a great way to cook snake: marinate it in soy and plum sauce for a day then roll it up and skewer it—rolling it preserves all the moisture.
My 5-year-old said it actually tasted like chicken.