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HOME RANGE: Notes on Literature, Nature, Working Dogs, History, Martial Arts, Other Obsessions and Sundry Annoyances by Henry Chappell

A Snakeish Outing

A few days ago, I received an email from Kim Rothe, my editor at Texas Wildlife:

"Just a friendly reminder about your feature on rattlesnakes."


Perhaps someone in an editorial meeting decided I ought to write a rattlesnake piece, and no one informed me. More likely, I signed up to write the piece and promptly forgot all about it. In any case, I'm happy to write the article, and ever-patient Kim has mercifully given me an extra 10 days.

Irresponsibility on my part, you say? I prefer to think of myself as a high-maintenance writer who's worth the extra aggravation.

I could simply pull out a few field guides, bone up on rattlers, call a couple experts, reuse one or two old tales, write a decent article, and collect a check. Sometimes, that's the best you can do.

Instead, I'm heading west day after tomorrow for a very close look at some rattlesnake dens - just to get in the right mood. I have an excellent guide.

Last night, I took my old copy of J. Frank Dobie's Rattlesnakes from my shelf and spent a couple hours freshening up my rattlesnake lore. As I read about 10-foot rattlers and prickly pear flats carpeted by snakes, I kept hearing the voice of one of my favorite Texas philosophers:

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