The Deep Magic of Dads

How To Kill A Snake With A Pickup Truck

My wife and I take a walk every day we’re together and the weather is nice. I enjoy her company, and I suppose I am somewhat postponing my inevitable demise. Our favorite spot is a short drive from the house.

Home is in the middle of no place in rural Mississippi. Thanks to Uncle Sam, I have lived all over the world. This is the best place on the planet to reside. However, we do have more than our share of venomous snakes. I have written about that several times in this very venue.

To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, can I shoot them with a gun?
Can I shoot them just for fun? I hate these guys.

Certain Snakes Just Suck

Now, before you proceed any further, you need to ask yourself some hard questions. If you are the sort who aspires to swim cageless with sharks or hop the fence at the local zoo to snuggle with the grizzly bears, you might want to index on to some of the other superlative reading material offered by my comrades. I, myself, am deathly afraid of sharks and I feel grizzly bears are best appreciated from a distance, like on TV via National Geographic. I also absolutely despise venomous snakes.

I get it. God put everything here for a reason, even mosquitoes, politicians and water moccasins. I suppose cottonmouths do a fine job of keeping the frog population in check or some such. Whatever. I have attended a few moccasin envenomations professionally. I have also inadvertently stepped squarely on a giant example once while out walking in the woods with my kids. It felt like treading upon Arnold Schwarzenegger’s arm. That experience is likely why my hair is so uniformly gray today.

I’ve killed sixty-two in the lake that serves as my backyard. The latest was the day before yesterday. Nothing makes a bad day into a good day faster than ganking a big fat water moccasin. Don’t feel sorry for the local versions. We built the lake. They wouldn’t be here at all were it not for us. I’d just sooner not have them all over the place when I step out into my backyard to do something.

Target of Opportunity

Anyway, as we were driving back from yet another spirited stroll and nearing the house, we saw him. This example was a real gentleman. I’d guess somewhere between three and four feet with a big fat body and a diamond-shaped head that looked like it was crafted in hell. He was meandering across the rural road like he owned the place. Without a great deal of conscious thought, I aligned the wheels appropriately and drove across him amidships.

As anyone who has grown up in the Deep South can tell you, that just makes them mad. If left to his own devices, he likely would have died a horrible death some three days hence. However, his rage got the better of him, so he coiled up in the middle of the road and opened his huge white mouth wide. I expected this. The first pass was simply to fix him in place.

I did a quick U-turn. This time, I got my speed right, angled the left front tire to strike center of mass, and tapped my brakes slightly just before impact. You need not skid. The goal is simply to make sure your tires are a bit grabby. In so doing, I quite efficiently turned the big serpent inside out. The crows and buzzards will have him reduced to a greasy spot on the motorway within the hour.

I have killed sixty-two water moccasins in my backyard thus far. Properly skinned and tanned, their hides are actually quite fetching.

Life Skills

As we made our way back home, my longsuffering bride queried amicably, “Where did you learn to do that?” Eviscerating a water moccasin with a pickup truck is, quite frankly, an acquired skill. Additionally, I had just done it quite adroitly, if I do say so myself. I went on to explain that I had seen my dad do that when I was a kid.

We had access to a stand of woods on the river side of the levee when I was growing up in the Mississippi Delta. During our countless drives out into the hinterlands we did not infrequently encounter water moccasins in the road. My dad would reliably dispatch them using the same technique I had just employed myself.

Deep Magic

I learned so much from my dad. He lived the example of the Christian gentleman. He worked himself to the bone, providing for his family, and was a pillar in our small community. He also took very little guff from me and my two rambunctious brothers. “Boys, this house is not a gymnasium!” in his inimitable antebellum drawl is a perennial family admonition we laugh about to this day. In addition to everything else, he also taught me how to expertly skin a venomous snake with a pickup truck.

And therein lies the rub. There will be those of my countrymen for whom this story might foment some truly visceral angst. I am regularly struck by how many folks will gripe about killing venomous snakes or keeping dogs outside but who are completely comfortable with the idea of abortion on demand and divorce on a whim.

Folks wring their hands over what’s wrong with this country, and that is it. Little boys need dads. They need dads who can be hard, loving men of character and show them how to hunt turkeys, make a shelter, start a fire and kill a snake. They need to grow up around men who would die for their God, their women and their country if the need arose. In short, they need dads like mine.

To my own dad, who will indeed read this eventually, thanks. You and Mom mean the absolute world to me. I really wouldn’t be much without you, and we’d have even more water moccasins.

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