Our camping trip in Tennessee over Memorial Day was a fun time of visiting with family members. It was also the first time I had ever eaten rattlesnake.
On the last full day of the trip, most of the children and a few of the adults decided to take a short hike to a deeper place in the river known as the Swimming Hole. The hike involved following a path through the woods; a large group of children went on ahead and my brother, his grown son, and two of his son’s friend brought up the rear. It was on this path that my nephew nearly stepped on a rattlesnake.
Thankfully, all the younger children had already gone by. My nephew and one of his friends went into action and quickly killed the snake. They brought it back to the campsite among the excited shouts of the kids.
My niece’s husband, a true southern boy from Alabama, knew just what to do. Surrounded by a host of curious children, he skinned and gutted the snake. They saw the two mice it had eaten recently along with its heart and entrails. Quite nauseating to me, but great science for the kids.
My nephew then sautéed the snake in salad dressing and put it on a grill over the campfire. When it was well-done, he cut it up and passed it around. Now I’m not an adventurous eater at all, but how often do you eat rattlesnake fresh out of the woods? Everyone took a small piece, including me. And you know, it wasn’t bad — sort of a mix between fish and chicken in flavor. Even my peanut-butter and jelly eating five-year-old gave it a try.
Camping is always an adventure, and this trip was no exception. Next time we eat rattlesnake, though, I’d prefer it to be in a restaurant. I’d rather avoid the snakes on the path.