We both see it at the same time. It’s laying in the road up ahead. Is it dead? And what kind is it?
We slow down to a crawl to get a better look. It’s a rattler.
No longer alive, yet I’m still terrified. The head took the impact of this hit and run. The rattle broken off and gone. But this has happened recently. The body is squishy and warm.
My husband knows what’s going to happen next. I want it. I want this snake so it’s life wasn’t wasted. It will come teach with me at the museum. The skin will educate.
He also knows he was the one driving and pulled over so….
But honestly, my brain was on pickle ball just minutes ago so mentally I am a disaster now.
We had gotten up early and were heading over to a park in Apache Junction that has nice, free outdoor courts. I am dressed for pickle ball not roadkill recovery. I don’t want to smell. I’m positive neither does my husband. We also don’t drive an open truck. We have an Expedition that I put things in I shouldn’t. There really isn’t a way to describe what a few week dead coyote smells like. It’s currently down in the shed waiting it’s turn to become educational…I will write about that later.
Grabbing a box, we scooped up the dead snake, put the lid on and threw it in the back of the car. My brain has basically exploded at this point. Yuck!, gross!, OMG this is super cool!, how am I doing this?, what am I doing? I don’t know how… must go to youtube, oh yeah pickle ball.
Up until this past April, I had never seen a rattlesnake in the wild. I am born and raised desert. Now, thanks to living around the Superstition Mountain and working at a museum with a very old barn and stamp mill, I have.
They are terrifying. A living, moving, breathing diamondback is beautiful and deadly at the same time. I have great respect for our wildlife. I don’t really have it in me to be the one who would kill a snake. It would have to be attacking my dog or something where I was defending. I’m more catch and release.
Hitting the pickle ball around for a while was greatly needed but still didn’t drain my anxiety. I brought the rattler home, I was going to have to skin it. I have absolutely no idea how.
I find some crazy dude in Florida that sounds like someone I would hang out with and watch his video. His snake is huge, but in Florida they have all kinds of crazy reptiles so the one he had was probably average and he was right at home working with it.
But watching and doing are two entirely different things.
This snake body I have is squishy. I have no real area or tools dedicated to this new hobby of mine. I improvise.
Though my husband is awesome, supportive and a Marine, no he is not going to touch this. He hands me an axe and protective eye wear.
The mangled head must go. Again, I am new, this is my first beheading. I am having an out of body experience. I tell myself it’s already dead and I’m just cleaning it but that doesn’t slow the high- speed train of adrenaline pulsating through me.
I have scissors dedicated to this sort of thing after I used them to remove the skin from a Javelina corpse.
I will spare you the rest. How anyone would eat snake I don’t know.
I get parchment paper and lay the skin out flat but realize this is going to make jerky quickly since it’s 100 degrees outside before noon. I go back to my youtube guy and see that if I want my skin soft and pliable I need to soak it.
So that’s where we are now. Soaking.