The fun and the fury of a rattlesnake derby

On occasion, PG posts items that are not strictly about books, but which may show visitors to TPV from outside the US aspects of culture and folkways in the strange land sometimes referred to as the United States.

From The Economist:

Shayne Naylor has some advice for people who want to hunt rattlesnakes: “Be vigilant” and watch “where you’re putting your hands and feet.” Every spring he leads people into the countryside of Oklahoma to seek out snakes. Wielding tongs, hooks and a bucket for stashing their catch, a few dozen hunters look under rocks and into crevices to track down their prey.

The hunt is part of the Mangum Rattlesnake Derby, held on the last weekend in April. Some 30,000 people visit the town, which is normally home to only 2,800. In a snake-pit tent wranglers perform among the rattlers. At a butchery show snakes are killed and skinned in a gory display. Their meat is fried and served up at a café. Hunters can sell their catch for $10 a pound, and win a prize for the longest snake, overseen by a newly crowned Miss Derby Princess.

The first organised roundup took place in Okeene, Oklahoma, in 1939. Ranch owners banded together to stop the reptiles from harming cattle and people. The events spread to other states. They have drawn the ire of herpetologists and others, who say they are cruel.

Link to the rest at The Economist

Some of the time when PG was a wee lad, he lived where rattlesnakes could be found, intentionally or unintentionally. PG never encountered any, but does recall seeing a cow which had been bitten by a rattlesnake. It was not an edifying sight.