Author: Rhynes, J.D.


George Martin's "Rattlesnake" post on the message board last week, reminded me of an incident a long time ago that was pretty hair raising. I cant remember the exact year it happened. I think it was about 1976 or '77. Any way, it was in the late summer and I had went with Vern and the boys to play a gig in Nevada City, California. If I remember right, the South Loomis Quickstep Band was on first, and we played the last two sets. We didn't get through playing until almost midnite, and naturally we set around after the show was over visiting with a lot of our friends fer an hour 'er so. We finally got all loaded up and headed down hiway 49 about 1:30 in the mornin'. I was driving Vern's lil' VW Bug, and Vern was kinda snoozin' in the "shotgun" seat. It was one of those real warm nights in the foothills, and was still about 70 degrees, even at that hour of the mornin'. I was driving along a straight section of the road, when suddenly I saw a HUGE rattle snake stretched across the road! I swerved the car, trying to run over it's head, and then hit the brakes. Vern came awake, as I was starting to back up to see if I had killed it. WHAT THE HELL'S GOIN ON J.D., Vern yelled! I sez; Man alive Vern! I think I jes run over the biggest rattler I've ever seen! Now a rattlesnake can dodge a car quicker than a blink, even at night, and sure enough, this one had dodged the tires, and was all coiled up and 'singin" at us right in the middle of our lane. WELLLL, I turned the car's engine off, got out my "snake shooter", and proceeded to get to one side of the big snake who was perfectly profiled in the headlight's glare. I shot his head off with the first shot! BOOM, went 'ol Earl, and it was then that the hair raising part came into this story. When that .45 went off, the field came alive with rattlesnake's "singin'" at us! There had to be at least 40 or 50 of 'em in that field! Vern yelled at me, J.D.get in this car before you get snake bit! Them snake's are every where! I could see that this big rattler that I had jes killed had at least 15 or 16 rattlles on him, and was a good 4 1/2 to 5 feet long. That was the biggest one I'd ever seen in the mountains, but he was gonna keep those rattles fer sure on this night. I got in that car as fast as I could, and we set there fer a few minutes, jes listenin' to them snakes "singin" their deadly melody. Vern said, there's got to be a huge snake "den" close by here, so lets get out of here, jes a'listenin' to them damn things "singin" gives me the creeps! Need less to say, I lit the tires up on that little VW Bug, and we headed to Valley Springs. To this day, I dont remember exactly where that spot on hiwy 49 is at. For years after that Vern would always tell of the night that I killed the biggest damn rattler he'd ever saw, and didn't get to get the rattles to put in his mandolin. He said, "Sweet Fern" [ his Mandolin] would've really came alive if'n I could have put those rattles in her! Sorry about that Vern, but we both agreed that it was best to leave 'em right where they were that night.
Posted:  7/25/2009

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