Ricky Harpole 9/10/2013

Roast pork never better than when seasoned with rattler venom


I’m not much of an early riser. I usually wake up at dawn, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna rise for an hour or three. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, (or two or three).
It was one of those days. I broke all of my self-imposed rules. No. 1 — When I do get mobile and “hitch my britches” there will normally be a heavy caliber pistol involved in the process. A process I neglected that morning.

No. 2 — When you hear strange and unidentifiable noises behind the cabin, you need to go back to rule No. 1 and fetch the pistol, both of which issues I incidentally ignored (at least at first).

Now, I keep an “extra old” 12-gauge scattergun on a “slick rig” by the door (that means it’s leaning in the corner). I ignored that valuable piece of equipment as well, until I realized what that racket was all about. A six-foot rattle snake and a feral pig were having a disagreement in my backyard and I was 30 yards from a firearm. (What sort of a gunslinger category does that sink me into?)

The old scatter gun is equipped to chamber one, and only one shot. There I was, within striking or eating distance of two of the most dangerous critters in North Mississippi with only one cook off. By gosh if there was ever a time to think it was then.

Having been raised in a rural environment I grew up having no choice but to learn a few things about pigs and reptiles. Whereas a hog is “not immune” to snake venom, that legendary version of southern cuisine is blessed with a thick skin with a layer of fat underneath. It has no fear of man nor beast, and natural appetite for venomous reptiles.

While I was considering my limited options, (did I mention that I was barefoot at the time?) That nine-pound snake hit that feral gilt four times. The pig was hungry to start with and about the point of the third strike, she was mule-lipped, on top of being ready for a close un-taxable meal.
Meanwhile I stood there basically naked except for a hat and that one-burner shotgun and watched nature take its course. The pig had the advantage on the snake due to the forementioned biological facts, but in the course of events as usual, I was in the midst of the war, and I didn’t start that one or any of the other ones.

Sometimes it’s best to get out of the way long enough to be recognized just enough while still being incognito to the gods of war or divorce attorneys.

I believe that all critical situations must be dealt with by decisions based on logic.
I have been complimented by certain associates (who must remain anonymous), who shared extremely stressful situations, on my ability to think before I acted or reacted or took no action at all.

The hog and snake adventure was the only occasion that required all three.

I knew the snake couldn’t eat me, but he could kill me. I also knew that the odds were in favor of the pig, so I did nothing at first. True to my intuition the hog dispatched the snake, and I promptly used that one shot to “fix” the swine, so if y’all are hungry, feel free to come to supper. The price of admission is only No. 4 12-gauge buckshot shell.

Walking lightly,
Ricky Harpole
P.S. There is no reason to starve in the land of plenty, and there is a lot to be said for the taste of barbecue and deep-fried snake.
(Contact Harpole at www.facebook.com/harpolive or www.colespointrecords.com)

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