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Dangerous delight

10/18/2013

Call me crazy but I was elated just last week as rattlesnake after rattlesnake decided to stretch out on a sanded Logan County road for a final tanning session before this week's cold weather settled in.

Call me crazy but I was elated just last week as rattlesnake after rattlesnake decided to stretch out on a sanded Logan County road for a final tanning session before this week's cold weather settled in.

OK, so a few more people already think I might be crazy using the words elated and rattlesnake in the same sentence.

No worries, admitting it is not a problem.

Patrick Porter thought I should have shot the first one, but neither he nor I had a firearm of any type in our pickups. I was armed with a camera.

He stopped first to see if I was having car problems. I appreciate that, but that's the nature of people in Kansas's rural counties.

They're quick to lend a helping hand to a complete stranger.

He and I no longer are strangers, and that's a good thing. It was funny, however, how congested the road became as he and I talked about the remoteness of the location, and how it is important for people to help one another.

In short, it's a spot where you wouldn't expect much of a cell phone signal, although it was surprisingly good.

But that's when Matt Bain, the manager of the Nature Conservancy's Smoky Valley Ranch pulled up, heading home, and stopped to chat a bit as well.

It was an information gateway, to learn about crop conditions from Porter and Bain's new job at TNC.

After a short chat, Porter headed east, Bain west and I took a few more photos.

At a safe distance of course.

Rattlesnakes are a wonder to me.

Having grown up in the city, I'm not at all a snake fan. But I do recognize how valuable they are in controlling rodents.

But people love to hate them, not hesitating at all to stop on a county road, put a bullet in their head and clip off the rattle, and then head on down the road without so much of a how-do-you-do.

While they eat mice, rats and small rabbits, they're also poisonous, and so obviously can be a threat to people and livestock.

While there were reports of snake bites earlier this spring, some residents report a smaller-than-normal population. That makes sense given how tough the drought of the past two years has been on animals.

I've not encountered a single rattlesnake this year, and that's what made this recent day so spectacular.

All within the span of about a mile, there were five -- all small, but healthy and alive.

There was a sixth snake in that mile as well, a non-venomous one, the only one that had been run over.

Two were a bit on the cranky side, but they made the best photos, even when one of them decided to hide under my truck. He stayed where he was as I drove away.

Rattlesnakes are fun to photograph, but I'll stick with Milo the dog as a pet.