Monday, September 8, 2008

The Story of My New Hatband

My friend Al, who is also one of my colleagues in muzzleloading and archery, gave me a really nice hat a few weeks ago. It is a black felt, wide brimmed, low crowned head piece just like one they would have worn back n the 19th century. Even though it’s a nice hat, it’s kind of plain so I have been considering how to dress it up.

photo credit: Wikipedia
Last weekend at the gun club during a training session break, one of my teenage female students stumbled across a Florida Pigmy Rattler (dusky pigmy rattlesnake) sunning himself in the walkway. She stopped, backed up to a safe distance - surprisingly not screaming, then she called a few of the male adult leaders over to do something about this pesky little snake. Pigmy Rattlers rarely get longer than two feet long, but their venom is still very toxic, enough to ruin your day and potentially cause a limb or digit to be amputated or I suppose it could even cause death. The adult leaders being brave sorts, found a long long stick and proceeded to harass the snake, poking it, so as to make it strike. After it struck, they proceeded to dispatch the serpent by mangling its head until it moved no more.

As one of the leaders carried the limp, lifeless snake away to dump it in the bushes, I called out “Hey!  Don’t throw that snake out.  That’s going to be my new hatband!”  So as I requested, they dumped the slimy thing into my cooler and covered it with some ice.  I knew the training would be over in a few hours, and it would keep good until I got home when I would skin and process it.

Four hours later after I returned home, ate, rested a bit and relaxed, I decided to get back to work and go skin that snake.  I may be a bit reckless at times, but I’m not stupid.  Instead of reaching right in to get the snake, I carefully opened the lid of my Igloo and glanced inside to see its condition.  To my surprise (grossly understated) the snake was not only NOT dead, but it was coiled up, pissed off and hissing at me.  Then it tried to crawl out of the small cooler.  After I regained my composure (and changed my shorts) I carefully and systematically considered all my options, which included a gun, a fire extinguisher, canoe paddle, dumping it and running, and abandoning it in some field far far away.  I was able to throw a few more cubes of ice into the cooler to slow its system down a little I reckoned, and buy me some more time.

I could not decide what to do that was going to be easy and quick, so I put the snake cooler in the back of my truck to go ask the guys at the local firehouse.  I figured if I was going to get bit by a snake, I’d rather do it with an EMT and ambulance there to step into.  The firemen didn’t want any part of the project.  They wouldn’t even come near my truck.  They muttered things regarding liability, being not covered for that, blah, blah blah.  They were willing however to come to my house and pick me up if I got bit and called 911.  To this day, I don’t understand their logic.  I just think they were scared like me.

The finished hatband.
To make a long story a little bit shorted, I ended up taking the pissed off serpent to the grocery store with me to buy some dry ice, with a plan to freeze it.  I didn’t want to leave it in my truck for fear of some innocent bystander walking by, so I took it in with me.  I did manage to tie a rope around the lid.  Everybody gave me funny looks carrying this cooler around with me, and guarding it so.  I purchased some dry ice, took it home, threw a couple of chunks in the box and checked it after a while.  When I looked at the snake this time, it was as stiff as Popsicle and I was able to take care of it with one cut from my big long knife.  I can’t wait to see how it looks on my hat.  I hope its dead for good this time.

And that’s the truth.