Friday, November 25, 2011

Bad Animals

Most people really do not want to know how many sharks there are near the beach when they go swimming, and they really don’t want to do the math. The math on how quick you can get out of the water versus how fast a shark can get to you is just like the math when you compare how quick you can get to where a Grizzly bear can’t get to you versus how fast it can, except with a shark you multiply that speed factor by ten, or divide your speed by ten, or you know what, just do both because it isn’t going to make a difference.  If sharks really wanted to attack human beings bite scars would be more common at the beach than HPV.
            I do not mess with sharks or bears. I do not go into the water where I can’t see my feet and I don’t go into the woods where there are bear warnings posted. If there is a Grizzly in the area code, I’ll call him long distance, directory assistance, area code 202. The Discovery Channel is full of great photos of bears and not once have I been mauled to death during Shark Week now that it comes up.  I’ll leave all the heavy lifting to the experts because if you’re on a television show talking about dangerous animals all you really have to do is outrun the camera man or the director, and who can’t do that?
            I was once an “expert” on Southern venomous snakes. I really didn’t know a whole lot but I could catch rattlesnakes barehanded. This meant I would grab the snake behind the head without pinning it. Yes, as a matter of fact, these were alcohol related incidents, why would you ask? I never got bit because I was very good, damn lucky, or only the good die young. I had more than a really good chance to be killed by an Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake and looking back, now I’m scared.
            There was a guy named Jim Cole who really liked Grizzly bears but they didn’t much like Jim. Cole died of natural causes back in 2010 and I didn’t find out until now. But had I been popped by a rattlesnake I think I would have stepped back, thought about what I was doing, and then done it differently. Cole got mauled twice by Grizzlies and I can’t help but think he was doing something wrong. Or he was just plain damn unlucky. The last attack cost him an eye and I was sorry to hear that but damn, man, step back from the really large predators. That’s why I stopped telling people I knew a lot about snakes. I knew enough about them to get in their way, and I am very lucky to still have ten fingers to type with.  Interfering with wildlife and living through it hardly makes anyone an expert.
            I thought the Crocodile Hunter was a moron of the First Order. To take a stingray barb in the heart was brutal but come on, man.
            In June of 2009 I was clearing some brush on the side of the pond with a bush hook and stepped backwards on something thick and squishy in a snake body kind of way. You know. You know when you’ve put full weight on a snake’s body if you’ve done it once then you know forever what it feels like. I stepped on a damn large Banded Water Snake while I was barefooted and nearly had a heart attack. I was carrying a ten foot long four by four and it went flying and I did too. But that was going forward. I was already going in the direction I wanted to be moving but to step backwards onto a large snake means you’ve got to reverse momentum. I knew when I put my shoe down on it what it was, or what it might be, and didn’t like that thought at all. A snake that size has got to be either a Diamondback or a Cottonmouth and pick your venom at that point. I rather it be a Cottonmouth because their venom is designed to kill cold blooded creatures but they tend to grab and hold on sometimes.  Honestly though, other than stepping on top of snake you aren’t likely to get bit, but damn, I just did.
            There was a second, maybe two or even three, when I knew I was screwed, totally screwed. Maybe it wasn’t a full second but it’s like ducking after you hear the gunshot. I made that full step forward and as soon as my left foot hit the ground again I knew I was okay. Not really okay, but fuckin superbly did you see that shit oh my god I am not not not bit okay. I had to pull my pants leg up and check. I’m wasn’t bit. Wow. No bite marks. I checked the other leg to make sure. The bush hook was there on the ground and there was the snake. Four feet plus of dark and mottled Cottonmouth, head feared back, mouth open, fangs gleaming, and I was just standing on top of it. Dude.
            I stepped on the tail of a smaller one back in 2010 but that wasn’t nearly as traumatic.  It was trying to get the hell away from me and it more or less slid under me trying to run away. I have a video of that snake somewhere.  But after backing onto a large one a year earlier, this didn’t rattle me as much.
            I didn’t kill either snake. I know this might sound to you a bit odd but I haven’t killed a venomous snake since 1979. I can’t do it. Clearly, they aren’t out to kill me or that snake in 2009 would have nailed me. I have no idea why it didn’t, except maybe it realized the whole damn mess was a mistake. That’s projecting I know, but I’m unbit.

I’m no expert, mind you, but I have managed to live in peace for a while now.

Take Care,

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