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Texas: Rattler roundup in Sweetwater is the granddaddy of them all

March 04, 2011|By Jay Jones | Special to The Times
  • A rattler sticks out its tongue during the snake-sacking championship in Tyler, Texas.
A rattler sticks out its tongue during the snake-sacking championship… (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles…)

Snakes alive!  It seems as though folks in several states just can’t wait for rattlesnakes to awaken from their winter slumber so they can catch 'em, kill 'em, and eat 'em.

Rattlesnake hunts, which generally are supervised by state wildlife authorities, take place each spring from Georgia to New Mexico to Pennsylvania. The festivals provide brave souls an opportunity to view the venomous bounty close-up and chow down on their flesh.  (Many say it tastes like chicken. Really.)

The granddaddy of these rituals is the Rattlesnake Roundup in Sweetwater, Texas.  This year it's March 10-13. Although it’s one of several such events in the Lone Star State -- there are others in towns including Big Spring, Brownwood, Freer, and Mathis--Sweetwater’s Jaycees claim theirs is the world’s largest.

The activities include bus tours to the rattlers’ habitat, a cook-off and, of course, the hunt itself.  Since its start a half a century ago, roundup participants have turned in more than 123 tons of Western Diamondbacks. Yes, 123 tons. As in 246,000 pounds. Nearly a quarter of a million pounds. About the size of fully grown African bush elephants.

Bon appetit.

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