This recipe has a special place in my heart. That is mostly because I personally shot this rattlesnake 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 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 at the ground cover and thought, “This would be a great place to live if I were a rattlesnake. I should probably keep an 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 each 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 toward 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, but I also 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 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 on 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.
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