(This is part of the Growing Up In Utah's Dixie series, by LaVarr B. Webb)
We bought an interest in a large farm in Deseret, Utah.
One summer, I left Dixie to go up and help with the haying.
I was cutting a field with a swather. The seat on a swather
is quite high up off the ground, providing an excellent view
of the surrounding area. As I approached the end of the
field, I saw a large snake coiled up in front of a drain
I stopped the swather, jumped off, and went over to
investigate. The snake felt, or heard me coming. He
uncoiled rapidly, and crawled into the culvert. He was
enormous, by far, the largest rattlesnake I had ever seen,
five inches thick, and almost six feet long. The rattles,
that he pulled into the culvert, seemed to be an inch wide
and three inches long, and they were blunt at their tip,
suggesting that they had been broken off.
I watched him coil up at the mouth of the culvert and
dare me to come and get him. I was tempted, but decided
against killing him. Instead I went to the house, and ask
the grandkids if they wanted to see the granddaddy of all
rattlesnakes. Of course, they did. Even my wife and
daughter went to see him.
The kids, their mother, and grandmother, very cautiously
approached the culvert. When my wife saw the
snake, she was shocked by its size, and said, "Kill it." I
didn't want to. It had lived a long time, and because it was
almost a mile from the house, I didn't think it could do any
It buzzed its warning song, making the chills run up
and down my back, yet I refused to kill it. My wife became
very angry. She, of course, was thinking of the children,
but I argued that it was in an isolated area, and if the kids
avoided it, it would try to avoid them.
She insisted, "Rattlesnakes have a habit of coming
apart and making new ones." She was right. Young rattle-
snakes are carried inside the mother's body, and are born
alive, and though small, are mature enough to survive, bite,
and do their victims a great deal of damage. However, I
won, and the snake lived.