“Oh, Save us from the pine cones.”
Here, we have another escapade at the Diamond MC Ranch. Man, I hope someone is reading these things. Let me know if you do. I’ll have to start intentionally putting spelling errors in to get attention, like that annoying tenth grader I have.
Another note: I decided to not use any names in this, as most everyone in it is still alive and many of them have many, many guns… and my address. Not the least of which is my only living grandmother who, when well into her 70s, punched the heart out of a man shaped target at 15 yards with a 2 inch .357. If you don’t know much about guns, go hang out at your local gun shop (NOT Academy, they generally don’t know that much about guns).
If you don’t feel like going out, then stay close and I’ll help you out along the way. It’s truly amazing that, in spite of the many gun stories contained within these pages, no one has been killed, maimed, capped, or otherwise injured by sporadic gunfire.
No names. Those persons mentioned in this tome know who you are (and that I’m generally armed). It isn’t necessary for you to know mainly because you might be FBI… or ATF… or some other acronym that might have an unhealthy (for us) interest in the exploits that follow. Remember, it’s not paranoia if they really are after you.
If you recall from previous blog entries, the Diamond MC Ranch was near Fred, Texas. If you don’t know where Fred is, then don’t feel bad, no one else does either. In case you check a map of Texas, it’s near Spurger… I’m sure that clears up all the questions you have.
Dad and Gran each had their reasons for purchasing the land. My grandfather wanted nothing less than to be a cowboy. At one point we had three horses (no cows thank God). He would ride through his land, six gun by his side. Ten gallon hat firmly on his head. His weathered face stern, but loving as he helped his only grandchild explore the wilds of this strange land.
My dad on the other hand wanted to blow stuff up. We would travel ‘up the country’ (that’s what we called it), Gran would bring grain and sugar cubes for the horses. He would cook for us on an open fire. Dad would bring 37 guns and two hundred twelve pounds of ammunition and protect us from viscous, man-eating pine-cones. Until I was seven, I really thought pine-cones were dangerous. Considering that area of Texas is called the Piney Woods, it was not a good time for me.
Occasionally, other family members would go with us. Dad’s cousin, Sandy, and his wife and kids (who were my best friends for a very long time) went often. Fortunately, Sandy was as big a gun nut as my father, so we were very safe from pine cones. Snakes, however, were another story.
There are some four major species (and several sub-species) of poisonous snake in the United States. ALL OF THEM live in Texas. ALL OF THEM live in the Piney Woods. ALL OF THEM lived on our land. Depending on how long ago our last visit was, many of them could be found in our well house.
Keep in mind that this was wild country. We might go up there once a month. During the summer we went much more, but that first trip in the spring could be a little exciting. All the cute fox kits running around, baby birds chirping for their supper, the occasional beaver venturing out from his lodge… and hungry snakes are looking to eat all of them.
Many of the following stories are snake stories. If you like snakes, then you might not want to read further. If you loathe snakes and wish them all sent to one of the deeper parts of hell, then read on. Many of the these stories begin with a snake and end with a ruthless application of firepower that makes Desert Storm look like a kicking match between six-year olds.
In spite of the fact that my dad can (and did) repair motorcycles from three different continents, built several sea worthy (and not so seaworthy) boats, could repair any car built before 1987, and had more than one job where he publicly embarrassed a certified engineer… he wasn’t too bright sometimes. Case in point…
Sandy’s oldest child, Jennifer, was down by the crick. [That’s redneck talk for creak… a small stream]. For sake of truthfulness, it wasn’t much of a creak. It was a big low place between two high points. It had a lot of sand and occasionally water ran through it. We enjoyed playing in the ‘quicksand’ mainly because it was all of twelve inches deep.
We heard her scream, “SNAKE!!!!!” Yes, she screamed in all capital letters.. Now, Jennifer was not a screamer, she was not a little pansy girl with her Barbies. Jen was a sophisticated high school student and smarter than anyone has a right to be. When she screamed snake, the men folk rushed into action.
We had all been getting ready for lunch. Sandy, the troubled father, Dad, the staunch cousin, uncle and defender, and Gran, the cowboy all took up arms against the coming threat. There was a mad dash for the crick. Three bravos armed for bear (literally) followed by everyone else looking to see what was about to get all blowed up.
We see Jen running toward us and she points behind her, where a LARGE black snake is heading into a hole in the ground. Everyone stops to consider this turn of events. The snake appears to be no threat. Jen is safe and sound, though she may have a few nightmares considering the size of the thing. In fact, none of the poisonous snakes in Texas are totally black like this thing was. A collective sigh of relief comes from the womenfolk. The mad dash to her rescue slows to a trot, then to a halt as we stand around trying to figure out what to do.
All, except for dad. I may never understand what possessed him, but he yelled something incoherent and dove on the snake just as its tail disappeared into the hole. Sticking his hand into the hole, he grabs the tail of the snake and begins what has to be the weirdest tug of war in history.
Now my dad is no five foot wiener, he’s always been a pretty buff guy (and later a pretty big guy). However, a snake is all muscle. From the back of its head to its tail is muscle and support for the muscle. This snake was big and it was in its hole. The tug of war was much like a pit bull hanging onto a rope for dear life.
Dad would get it a few inches out, then the snake would (apparently) get some fresh traction in the dirt and wriggle back in a few inches. We stood dumb-founded as this epic struggle occurred.
Finally, dad managed to make it to his knees and almost a foot of the tail of this giant black snake was out of the hole. Then, man’s superior knowledge and skills come into play. Animals are, after all, 90% instinct, while most humans have no instinct at all (witness my dad trying to pull a snake out of the ground). No mere animal can stand against the mind of man… or in this case a revolver with 6 .45 Long Colt shells in it.
There is a joke amongst gun aficionados that “God made man, Sam Colt made them equal.” In this case, a relatively powerful revolver made man superior to the snake… at least in terms of ability to do damage. The snake wasn’t looking to pull dad out of the ranch house now was he?
Dad positioned the barrel of his pistol on the snakes body and pulled the trigger… BOOOOOOOM. Man-made thunder rolled through the countryside. I don’t know if the snake was in pain, realized that it was now in serious trouble, or was already dying, but its struggle redoubled. But man had his technology working for him now. Dad pulled another foot or so of snake out of the hole. BOOOOOOOOM… went the gun. The snake was doomed, but it was determined to go out fighting. Dad pulled another foot or so of the snake out… again the thunderous roar echoed through the pine trees. Again and again and again. The final shot was very near the beast’s head and was the straw that broke the camel’s back… on second thought I think it was the half ounce of lead traveling at 800 feet per second that broke it’s back, but you get the drift.
Finally he held up his prize… slightly worse for wear. The snake was at least six foot long. I say at least, because we never found the head end of it. The part that we had was a little over six feet long and about as big around as your upper arm. I think at that point everyone just shook their heads and trudged back to the house.
That was the biggest snake we’d seen, but not by much and it sure as dad’s shooting wasn’t the meanest.
 Sandy is out of the country and, I think, planning on remaining there. I have little to fear from him.
 I fear no reprisals from her. However, given the younger, male child’s affinity for computers and accessing things he really shouldn’t, I’ll refer to him only as ‘The Unihacker’.