This recipe has a special place in my heart. That is mostly because I personally shot this rattle snake as it was making an attempt to attack me. It reiterates the “eat or be eaten” phrase. I was out dove hunting in the mountains near San Diego. I spent the day wandering about various clearings, gazing into the sky, looking for doves, and not really paying attention to the ground where I was walking. I know, rookie mistake. Because it is prime time for rattlesnakes here in Southern California and I should have known better.
After we visited a couple of properties without incident, we then decide to check out one last spot before we headed home for the day. I noticed some birds using a ridge line as cover and decided we should cut across a small hill to reach the area. As we began to climb up the hill and I had one of the most odd feelings I have ever had. Do you know when you feel like something is going to definitely happen? Something you didn’t predict but it hits you like a 20lbs mallet to the side of the head saying, “this is going to happen.” I had my moment as I looked to the ground cover and thought, “This would be a great place to live if I were a rattlesnake. I should probably keep and eye out.” I had taken no more than two steps as I crossed over the crest of the hill when I saw it. Our eyes met and we both startled the other.
We both flinched. I jumped back in the air as I raised my shotgun to the shooting position. The snake zig-zagged back into an attack position, its rattler buzzing frantically. The snake made a dash towards the right side of me. Honestly, I do not know if the snake was maneuvering for a better attack position or if it was simply attempting to escape. I was not going to take any chances. I shot… not only did I shoot once, I shot three times. My three shot barrage landed one round in the middle of the snake. I saw it curl up, moving side to side in a ball. I could not tell if it was dead or alive. My hunting partner had no idea what had just happened and I took a minute to fill him in and he was astounded by what had just occurred.
After a few moments, the snake’s movement ceased. I could not see the head to make a confirmed kill shot so I stretched out the snake with the barrel of my shotgun. All the emotions set in when I saw the length. The snake easily totaled in length almost four feet. I removed the head and buried it as a safety precaution. I examined the rattle which was nine rattles in length. A decent sized snake of good age. The day of dove hunting ended abruptly.
I cleaned the snake and packed it on ice for the trip home. After all, I was raised not to waste game.
After a lengthy discussion with my wife about eating the snake, she decided not to kiss me if I chose to eat it. Putting all that aside in the name of adventure, exploration and my morals, I decided to make a soup. This soup is based off of traditional turtle soup but with the snake instead. This recipe is the result. For those wondering, my wife did kiss me after I ate the soup… it just took a couple of days.
– 1 rattlesnake skinned and cleaned
– 2 garlic cloves
– 1 tbsp salt
– 1 tsp ground white pepper
– ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– Combine the mixture in a gallon zip-lock bag and marinade overnight.
– The next day, bring 4 cups of water and ¼ cup of lemon juice to a boil
– Add the snake and the marinade, reduce heat and simmer for I hour
– Remove the meat and let cool
– With a fork, strip the meat from the bones. Be careful of the rib bones, the will easily separate from the spine and can be a choking hazard. Pick through all the meat to find any bones.
– Chill meat until the soup is prepared.
– ½ white onion, finely diced
– 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 2 tsp thyme
– 1 tsp Cajun seasonings
– 1 8 oz can of tomato sauce
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 bay leaf
– 3 cups (24 oz) beef stock
– In a small pot, add the diced onion, chopped garlic, olive oil, salt, thyme, Cajun seasoning, and bay leaf.
– On medium heat, cook the mixture until the onions become clear.
– Add the tomato sauce and beef stock to the pot and reduce by half (about 15-20 minutes)
– Strain the mixture into another pot. Discarding everything but the soup
– Add the snake and simmer for 30 minutes
– Serve and Enjoy