away just in time, and he missed.
The second incident occurred a few years ago. Lee Hasenjager, his
wife, my wife and I had rented a houseboat for a romantic trip on the
Florida Keys. The first night, we got to a small key called Rider Key,
way to hell and gone out in the Gulf of Mexico.
That night, a hurricane hit and we sweated out several days of trying
to keep our houseboat afloat. Then we made a run for that highway that
runs all the way to Key West. We made it, and wonder of wonders, found a
spot where someone had dredged a boat slip out of a key over which the
Lee was the pilot and put the boat into the slip. But the stern was
still banging against the sides of the slip, so I jumped ashore and
started to run through the jungle to the stern of the houseboat. I almost
stepped on a rattlesnake. He struck at my foot but missed. I stopped,
picked up a stick and killed him. End of original story.
An editor at the Pilot put a headline on that story which read,
"Here's hoping that rattlesnakes don't get a third chance at me."
Well, I stumbled across that column the other day and belatedly
realized that a rattlesnake did get that third chance.
I was dove hunting in Paso Robles with Bill Lester and Don Lenk. We
had stationed ourselves in a small ravine through which we hoped some
doves would fly. I was on one side, Bill and Don on the other.
Suddenly, they yelled, "Bob, watch out! There's a rattlesnake coming
down in back of you."
I turned around, and sure enough, there was a 4-foot rattler coming
right at me. I suddenly gave up dove hunting and became a rattlesnake
hunter. I shot his head off with my shotgun, which was a lot easier than
killing him with a small stick, as I had done in Florida.
As far as I am concerned, my experiences with rattlesnakes have come
to and end, but I'm not sure rattlesnakes feel the same way.
For that reason, I do not intend to go to the Florida Keys again, nor
to return to Wyoming. And I have no intention of going dove hunting
And just to be sure, I approach every pile of driftwood on the beach
with great care. Rattlesnakes get washed down streams and rivers, and
that fourth rattlesnake may just be lying in wait for me.
* ROBERT GARDNER is a Corona del Mar resident and a former judge. His
column runs Tuesdays.