Stick Snakes & Grizzlies

Back in the 1960s me and some guys I worked with took a hunting/camping trip into the Sierra Nevada Mountains east of Fresno, CA.

We spent Friday and Saturday nights in a very primitive campground at about 6,000 feet. On the first night we built a nice fire and sat around until pretty late drinking beer and telling lies. None of us had a tent so we slept out in the open with nothing but sleeping bags.

On the way in we saw a number of black bears feeding at the local village’s dump. Since we were camping several miles from there we assumed there would be no bears and if there were our camp fire would keep them away. Next morning we didn’t see any signs of bears but we did find lots of mountain lion tracks near our camp. On Saturday night we took turns standing guard with fully loaded Springfield 1903 rifles, while the others got some sleep. I’m pretty sure we were all scared shitless that we’d be eaten by a grizzly while we slept.

Saturday morning we drove into the closest town and went to a sporting goods store to buy some ammo and supplies. There was a glass case on the counter filled with rattlesnake rattles. I asked the clerk where they came from and he said they all came from the nearby wilderness. My second question was, “Well, this is November, probably too cold for them now, huh?” His answer was, “No, not when the sun comes out, they’ll crawl out and sun themselves.”

The rest of that day and all the next I must have seen a hundred rattlesnakes. Every stick along the path was a rattlesnake waiting to rob me of my life.

This was my one and only deer hunt and I never saw a deer, didn’t see an actual snake, and the only thirty-ought-six bullets fired were at a large Douglass pine tree.

This story was prompted by the following meme that someone posted on Facebook.

snakes meme

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