Snakes Alive!

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By Wayne Brown


Guns were not my priority...at least not until 'Banks and I became friends. My dad had one old single-shot shotgun that I had fired only a few times. The experience had not left me longing to fire it again anytime soon. Other than that, my only exposure had been with a BB-gun that I obtained in my pre-teen years.


Banks changed all of that. He always believed that you were just one gun shy of having enough guns. No one ever had "enough firepower", in his opinion. At the time, old man (well, he seemed old to us) Frank Simmons had a combination watch repair and gun shop on the northeast access to the town square. He had a little bit of everything in there especially guns and watches. Old Frank was a damn expert on everything too. All you needed to do was ask him to find out. It was like trying to let a little bit of water out of the Hoover Dam...hard to turn it off once it gets going. Of course Banks cared little for Frank's observations but he was willing to endure it to get a look at the gun case full of all kinds of pistols. He would just say, "Ah you know Frank is full of crap, let's just go look at the guns". I had heard that Frank was a Jehovah's Witness so I was always afraid that he would want to give us one of those brochures. I stayed on edge the whole time we were in the shop. I think Frank picked up on it too. Banks was oblivious; totally entrenched in the beauty of the guns; lost in the wonderment of firepower. I think Frank picked up on that too and left the brochures under the counter.


Out north of town along Highway 51, a man called "Grasshopper" Jones operated a thriving bait business. It could be said that Grasshopper offered the ultimate in fishing experiences with a full array of natural, synthetic, and plastic baits. I was pretty sure there was no one else on earth that knew more about bait than Grasshopper. I always wondered why they did not invite him up to the school on career day to talk about bait. Folks need a passion in life and bait was Grasshopper's passion. It was both an obvious and apparent conclusion, all you had to do was look around.


In the process of buying bait for one of our other adventures, Banks and I had come to be acquainted with Grasshopper and his vast bait empire. The land around his shop was populated by rectangular-shaped man-made minnow ponds. Grasshopper raised his own little minnows which he sold as "live bait" to the public. He would pull the minnows from the ponds with nets and put them into minnow vats in his shop awaiting his next customer. Grasshopper taught us that there were three types of live bait: minnows, crickets, and of course, those wiggling red wiggler worms that were so popular with your "joe average" fisherman. Yep, Grasshopper was a natural-born bait guru. Anyway, Grasshopper related to us that he occasionally ran upon a Cotton-mouth Moccasin snake when he was out netting his minnows. He wanted to get rid of them. Well, say no more...Banks knew two guys who were well-suited and well-armed for the task. Without consulting me, he volunteered our services to Grasshopper for snake eradication. Banks says, "Hell, we'll even provide the ammunition".


Banks planned to begin the snake eradication effort the next weekend. Very seldom did he brief me on "our plans". He more or less just showed up at my house and told me to get in the car, "we had things to do". This was the case as we headed up to Grasshopper’s with a car full of pistols, rifles, and a shotgun or two. I found myself wondering whether Banks’ dad, Belmont, had enough firepower left back at the house to defend it if the bad guys showed up. Of course, I am quite sure that Banks did not brief Belmont on the plan either. Belmont and I were both in the dark on snake eradication. Belmont also did not know that he was supplying the ammunition for this effort but Banks did and it made perfect sense to him. Come to think of it, I do not think we bothered to brief Frank Simmons on the plan either. You see, the important thing was that Banks understood the plan and others would be brought in on it as the need arose...that was the way it worked. Security was an "all-the-time" consideration.


Once we arrived at Grasshopper's, we quickly commandeered a small aluminum boat and one wooden paddle. Banks took control of the paddle. Now he had both the plan and the paddle. As for me, I was just along for the ride, as usual. There we were out on the pond rocking along in that little boat as Banks paddled back and forth across the sides of the boat working his way toward the shore on the other side. Now the shoreline on that side was lined with overhanging Willow trees that tend to naturally spring up in areas that snakes like. They must have really liked this area around Grasshopper's for there were plenty of Willow trees. If one did not know different, he could have assumed that Grasshopper was in the "Willow tree-raising" business. As we paddled along almost turning over at times, I remember praying that this minnow pond was not very deep as I was a poor swimmer and we did not have any life preservers. There was no room in the boat for them as it was full of guns. I was pretty sure that Banks would try to save the guns if the boat turned over so I knew that I was on my own in terms of any life-saving efforts.


Banks paddled us to the edge of the over-hanging tree branches. He threw the paddle into the bottom of the boat and grabbed his binoculars to search the ground along the bank under the Willows for snakes. He scanned back and forth until he finally spotted one. He grabbed a pistol and fired off a shot at the spot on the bank. He missed the snake and we watched as it slid off into the water. Now, at this point, I had two things to worry about…drowning and where the hell was that snake going? I was pretty sure it was headed out to get in the boat with us. No one can shoot very well when they have all those things running through their mind. Banks had a different set of thoughts processing in his brain. By his calculations, we had two problems in that we were not using the right gun yet and we were not close enough to the snakes. So he grabbed the paddle and we rock and rolled off toward the tree-lined bank with me keeping a constant eye out for that snake that was waiting to jump in the boat with us. By the way, did I mention that I am deathly afraid of snakes? Well, write it down ‘cause it is a fact.


We arrive to within six feet of the bank and are totally shaded from the sun by the overhanging tree branches. We are close enough to the bank that the binoculars are no longer required to spot a snake and it does not take Banks long to find one. I, on the other hand, am distracted as I continue to look for that one snake that I am sure is still stalking us around the pond. This time, Banks grabs the 12-gauge shotgun and unloads on the snake lying on the pond bank. In that instance, that one second, simultaneous with the deafening blast of the shotgun, every snake in the universe either crawled off the bank into the water or fell out of the Willow branches over our heads. Suddenly, we were living in hell on earth surrounded by some very upset moccasins at having been blasted from their resting place by the sounds of gunfire. Banks was thrilled; he stood up in the boat and began firing all around us attempting to kill all the snakes before the ammunition ran out. I had a different thought as I crawled across the middle seat grabbing for the paddle. I wanted out of there and fast and I was the man for the job. In that instance that was the one thing of which I was totally convinced. I was paddling like mad; Banks was shooting like mad and stopping only to quickly plug a new load of shells into the gun.


The water was churning in a mixture of shotgun blasts, paddle strokes, and writhing snakes. Banks was screaming, "Shot 'em, Get their ass" but I had another plan. I was moving that boat toward the other shore just as efficiently as a new, outboard Evinrude would get it done. I could not get there fast enough all the time thinking that there had to be at least one snake in the boat with us. God help us if Banks spotted him before we could get to the other side. I was pretty sure this little boat could not sustain a shotgun blast to the floor without sinking rapidly. The result of that would bring the snakes and drowning back into my thoughts. I had to quit thinking and just paddle that damn boat with Banks yelling, "Where are you going? Shot 'em!, Shot 'em!" If two snake-eradication experts ever needed God's help, it surely had to be these two. Banks had yet again found a way to include me in an event that I could never have possibly conjured up for myself and I now had but one mission...get out of it alive!


We arrived back at our point of entry carrying a speed of probably no less than 100 knots. I was not worried about stopping the boat. I just wanted to get close enough to survive the jump to firm ground without the threat of drowning or snake-bite. I launched myself over Banks and landed on that pond bank fairly certain that I would be getting out of the snake eradication business. By this time, Banks had overheated the guns and was waiting for the barrels to cool down. He was pumped and just about out of ammunition. The adrenalin was flowing and the wheels were already turning in his head as to how we would approach this on the next visit. I could see it in his eyes. I also knew that he was not planning to brief either myself or Belmont on this action either.


We dragged the little boat upon the bank, gathered up the hot guns and headed to the car. All the while, Banks is complaining that I had left him in the lurch by not shooting more snakes. I answered his complaints by pointing out that there were more snakes out there than two human beings could deal with and that we were just ever so lucky that we came through it with our hides in place. Banks placed the guns in the trunk of the car, slammed the lid shut, and yelled for me to get in as he fired up the engine. Once inside, he stated his observations as to our lack of success in the snake-killing venture. He concluded that we were "under-gunned" and needed far more ammunition. What we needed was to head straight up to Frank Simmons' shop and remedy that situation immediately. As we sped away toward the shop, I found myself thinking that it was past time for me to ask Frank for one of those brochures. If I was going to continue in the snake-killing business with Banks, I had to get in touch with God.


(C) Copyright WBrown2010. All Rights Reserved

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Comments 25 comments

Stan Fletcher profile image

Stan Fletcher 6 years ago from Nashville, TN

Great hub Mr. Brown. Brought back lots of good memories from when I was a kid.

I'm a fan. Welcome to Hubpages.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas Author

My friend "Banks" was a real guy and a real American in the years that followed that story. I was very proud of him and his service to this country. He and I had some adventures and I will share them if I can get the inspiration to flow. Banks died about two years ago in an automobile accident...a very sad time for me. Thanks for your comments, Stan...enjoy your stuff a bunch...keep writing!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

Oh good god - I'm laughing myself silly - after of course I shrieked when I saw the picture...knew there had to be a picture if you were in the snake eradication biz.

God that is hilarious! If it had been my luck though, I would have had the friend or helper shot at LEAST 3 holes in the bottom of the boat and I have no doubt I would literally have walked on water to get out of there...it may have been a noteworthy event - before of course I expired of a heart attack on the shore and the snakes got me anyhow!

Wonderfully written and hope you decided to not be second in command after that escapade! Lord almighty, I would never have survived the shooting much less than snakes!


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas Author

@akirchner...I considered changing both the name and the photo because I am afraid that both of them are put offs to attracting readers on the story. But...I am not sure what the alternatives could be. This one just never really got the traffic from the start and that's a shame because I thought it was a good story. WB


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

It IS truly - I was thinking that when I saw just 1 other comment I think - but I have to tell you every time I open this page I'm jumping out of my shorts! Too hilarious. But you inspired me to write my own snake story today instead of something else I was going to do - it'll wait - I'm going to link to this story but god help me if I open this page one more time!

My only concern is that I need a couple of pics for MY story and I'm going to have to look at some more snakes! I think I'll have my share of nightmares tonight but maybe it'll be a way of purging this phobia....yeah right! If it ain't gone by 56-1/2 years or so, somehow me thinks I am foolin' myself!


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

Cotton mouth water moccasin snakes are the worst. They're big enough and aggressive enough to kill a man. Wayne, you have some big cojones for getting out there in that boat and shooting at snakes like that. I'm surprised you survived. Audrey and I would have died of fright.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas Author

@Austinstar...that was the one time in my life when I would have attempted walking on water but only if the boat went down. When those snakes started bailing out of the trees, I thought we were goners! You would have to know my friend Banks to ge the feel but he was a virtually one-man army as he began to fight 'em. It was a heart-stopper! WB


akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

I added a connect to this hub on my snake tale yesterday (still shuddering about that). I was thinking maybe the title needs to be longer or you need keywords in it - it isn't the picture (although I personally LOVE it...) Just a thought and hate to see this GREAT story not being read. I tagged a few hubbers and told them to come check it out! I am still laughing about it and even though I laugh a lot (mostly at myself), this was fine comedic writing.


saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 6 years ago

Hey Wayne I don't know how I missed this one. Maybe you and I were not connected when you published it? Man I hate snakes and I was right there in the boat with you wanting to sprout wings so I could fly away and off that lake. I can just see those creepers slithering and hissing as your partner was blasting away and really pissing them off. I have handled garter non poisonous snakes in my childhood, but I can't even pick those up anymore.

Well I was reading Audrey's hub on her snake adventure that I laughed so hard at, I just had to venture into your slithering hub and get the hair standing up on my neck all over again:0) Glad you made it out alive, otherwise we wouldn't have the best cowboy poet on the hubs here to entertain us all. Peace pardner.


ralwus 6 years ago

Hah! Big cowpoke like you skeered o' snakes! LOL Why did you get into a boat with life jackets if ya can't swim? Funny story anyway WB. btw Audrey sent me.


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

Well, I am so grateful to akirchner for pointing me to this piece. Wonderful to see the result of bringing people to the Christian fold :-))


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

OK, Wayne, OK Audrey. I'm hooked. I know I discovered you already from a comment somewhere but have been remiss not to follow you before. So now I am. Following you.

Your story is very funny but also uncomfortable - the snake segments are too realistic for me. Especially the part about them falling out of the trees above your head. Ugh! You may well qualify for membership in SNAKESS. Check out my comment on Audrey's "snake" hub.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas Author

@akirchner - Your link is paying off...I returned from lunch and had 15 comments to answer. Thanks for the help, Audrey! WB

@saddlerider1 - It was definitely a moment that is forever burned in my memory. My friend Banks was the sort of guy who kept the adventure level quite high. Thanks for the read and the good comments! WB

@ralwus...Yep! Big ol' cry baby Texan! When the snakes show up, I saddle up! Thanks Charlie! WB

@De Greek...you are a riot, Greek! Snakes do push me a bit closer to God! Thanks for the read and the great comment! WB

@drbj...I agree. I was squirming while writing it just remembering those nasty moccasins writhing in the water. It is funny now but I don't remember laughing while I was paddling that boat. Thanks for the good words and please stop by again soon! WB


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

Men and their snake...like...things! And guns-sounds like Texas to me, or actually my town, though we don't wrastle with Water Moccasins out here, thank the good Lord!

Audrey sent me, too!

Great writing of a great story, Wayne.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas Author

@lorlie6...I wrote this piece after I had been here about 1 month. It is finally getting some traffic...thanks in great part to Audrey's efforts. I am glad she is stirring the pot because I always felt this story had merit and was funny once you get past the fear of snakes. Thanks for the read and the good comments, Laurel! WB


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

AKirchner sent me here, and I'm glad she did! I love humor, and this hub did not disappoint!


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas Author

@habee...Good to see you come by. Congrats on hitting that 100 level again this week. We are still down here in the trenches trying! LOL! This is a true story. I wrote it about a month after I joined the Hub. It has languished here for five months now with little activity. Audrey read it and decided to drum up some business on it. She has just about driven it to the top of my charts. I appreciate your good words. Thanks much for stopping in and I hope to see you again soon! WB


mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 6 years ago from Florida

A Kirchner sent me here, too! A plug from a hubber means a lot, it seems.

I am so sorry your friend Banks died. I think I would have loved him.

This was fun to read.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas Author

@mysterylady 89...that Audrey is working this one hard for me...gettin' me loads of traffic too. Thanks and I am so glad you enjoyed it! My friend Banks was killed in an auto accident with his father (also killed) as they were returning from Bank's mother's funeral. Then entire family was dead within a seven day period. Very sad. WB


ajcor profile image

ajcor 6 years ago from NSW. Australia

what a laugh! - loved it - I too have written some snake stories that you might enjoy but the "snake" label maybe does put people off!!! sorry about your friend - you must miss him and his big plans!! cheers


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas Author

@ajcor....Glad you enjoyed it. After five months, this one is finally a hit! I do miss my old friend. Luckily I still have some contact with his widow and children. Thanks for the read and the good words. WB


Truckstop Sally profile image

Truckstop Sally 5 years ago

This was absolutely hilarious, and with a glass of wine even better. I couldn't help thinking that this could be a skit with Andy Griffin and Barney Fife (sp?). You, of course, would be Andy - reasonable, calm . . . Ha! Undergunned? I just saw an episode of Pawn Wars this weekend (set in Las Vegas), and most of the show was about guns -- 54 caliber calvary, flintlock side-by-side spring bayonette . . . amazing weapons. Banks would have loved them all!


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas Author

@Truckstop Sally...Well, there ya go! I told that I was more than just a western writer! Not that there's anything wrong with 'em, my ditch is just a little wider than theirs! LOL! Banks was a certified gun nut and he was a good friend for many years but I lost him to an unfortunate auto accident about three years back...tough time. I'll be interested to see what you say abou that "White Shoe Syndrome". WB


rcrumple profile image

rcrumple 4 years ago from Kentucky

Wayne -

Told you I'd get over here!

Very humorous tale. Cottonmouths are a very skitish snake. When we'd get a new one at the reptile zoo, they'd always go into quarantine first. Usually, we'd have to put a newspaper over the glass to keep them from doing damage to their snouts by strikin' it everytime someone would walk by. Wasn't that they were mean, they were the most scared. A rattler will sit there and just dare you to do something. A copperhead will pretend you can't see him. But a cottonmouth, nervous as the dickens, can't judge danger because of his fear. That's why it rained snakes! They felt the vibrations of the shots and came out of the trees looking to excape into the water. Y'all just happened to be in the middle! Great luck, huh? Good read and very entertaining. Thanks for recommending it!


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas Author

@rcrumple....I knew there was something about that snake that really got under my skin. It has been a long, long time since that incident but it is still very vivid in my memory...not lookin' to go there again soon! Thanks much...good info on the snake population. WB

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