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Last week, we had a letter to the editor asking people not to kill rattlesnakes, while elsewhere in the paper we had two photos of people holding rattlesnakes they had killed.
The irony was not lost on the newspaper staff, as I'm sure it wasn't lost on you.
The issue reminded me of a story from my own past, when I was an intern at the Sweetwater Reporter in Sweetwater, Texas. Sweetwater is the home of the world's largest rattlesnake round-up (or so they claim). I wasn't working there at the time of that year's round-up, but I did see a few rattlesnakes that summer.
As part of a story about the possible contamination of the city's secondary drinking water source, I visited a 100,000-acre (yes, you read that right) ranch that had a stream that fed into the lake in question.
The owner of this particular ranch would have been perfect if you needed to cast a cowboy attorney (since that is what he was) for a movie. After showing me the stream and why he was concerned, we headed back to his house to leave in his truck (yes, it was big, too).
Almost as soon as we pulled away from the house, he stopped the truck and got out. After looking at the ground for a moment, he picked up a branch and started swinging it at the ground. That's when I got out of the truck, too. I just had to see what he was doing.
When I got closer, I heard a rattling sound, and sure enough, a rattlesnake was curled out about four feet away from me. This was a smaller snake, so it was out of striking distance.
When the rancher realized I was there, he looked at me for a second. Then, he proceeded to step on the snake's head, killing it. At the same time, he pulled a knife from his back pocket, which he used to cut off the tail.
He tossed it to me.
"Here," he said, "mail that home to your mom."
I could tell he took some pleasure in showing a city boy what he could do, but I also sensed some remorse on his part. He explained that he normally doesn't kill the snakes. He said when he went for walks on his property, he ran into snakes all the time. Usually, they just ignored him. He even said he'd stepped on snakes accidentally without the snakes reacting.
In this case, however, he said he felt he needed to kill the snake because it was so close to the house, which is where his grandchildren play during their frequent visits.
The story, to me, gave some insight into why people with experience around rattlesnakes aren't as afraid of them. (The rattle is intended to be a warning, after all.) At the same time, if the snake might be near a child, I can understand why that might be a concern for a parent or grandparent.
The ads are coming
Speaking of things we'd probably rather not see in our homes, it seems like it hasn't been that long since Jody Haydon and Jimmy Higdon were bombarding our televisions trying to win election to the state senate.
But with Fancy Farm behind us, the "official" kick-off to the fall campaign season is upon us. With races for U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative on the ballot, I have a feeling we'll be seeing and hearing more than our fair share of television, radio and print ads in the coming months.
One of the Senate candidates, Rand Paul stopped in Lebanon a few weeks ago for a fund-raiser. Before that, he stopped by our office for a short interview. You'll be seeing the results of that interview closer to the election.
Hopefully, we'll also have a chance to talk with Paul's opponent, Jack Conway, to help local voters assess the candidates. Anyone with information about when Conway might be in our area is free to give us a call.
We'll also be bringing you information about the candidates in the other contested races on the Nov. 2 ballot.
Stay alert. You don't want to get caught by a surprise on Election Day.