The Rattlesnake Battle of West Camp
By Dakota and Sarah Maxfeldt-Robinson
The following tale is the same story told from the different perspectives of a married couple, I'll let you decide which is more accurate.
Over the course of about two months, I had randomly been hearing a rattlesnake right before we fell asleep some some nights.
I kept telling my husband, D.R., "It sounds kinda big and I don't like it and I really want it dead..." to which he replied, "You haven't even seen it, how do you know what size it is?"
I tried explain to him the size I thought it was. I said, "It's definitely a diamondback, not a prairie rattler. Definitely over four feet, but maybe not super long, I guess. It's big, but not like a record or something...I don't know, I'm just telling you what it SOUNDS like."
Every time I'd heard it, he was either asleep, or it would quit rattling when I told him to listen. I'd only heard it at night, after 10pm. Imagine how creepy it is to hear a rattlesnake just start rattling out of the blue, right outside your window and have no idea where it is coming from!
Well on this night, I hear it again at about 11:30pm. This time, it's super close. So, I go to the window to listen for where it's coming from. I can tell it's really close to the gate that sits about 6 feet from our bedroom window.
D.R. isn't awake to listen when I loudly announce that I hear it again. He responds in his sleep as if he's awake, but really, I may as well be talking to myself. "Oh, yeah, uh-huh..." He mumbles.
"Are you even awake? I hear the snake!" I say just before he grunts "uh-huh..." and rolls back over.
I head to the back door, turn the porch light on and grab the shovel I leave by the door just for this scenario. I start tip-toeing in the direction I know it must be, but I'm still not positive exactly where. I haven't decided if I'm brave enough to actually go looking for the culprit.
I start throwing rocks in the general direction, just to see if it'll buzz, when all of a sudden I see a calico cat jump straight into the air and what lookes like a snake head flash out into the light and back again. Woah, buddy. Definitely a big one.
It clicks that she's probably been the reason this snake has been rattling, seemingly randomly, at night all these times. She loves torturing them, but this one is way bigger than she should be antagonizing.
When she jumps, I squeak pretty loudly and D.R. hears me through window and actually wakes up. "Huh? What? What is it?" He didn't have to wait for my response to hear the rattle and immediately know what it was. I hear him staggering out of bed.
While I wait for him to come, I throw a few rocks here and there to keep it coiled and rattling so I can't lose it. When he finally gets to where I am and I hand him the shovel, he peeks around the gate and says "Holy crap!!! That's a big S.O B.!"
He has me run and get the flashlight so he can see it better. Thankfully, I keep a maglight right inside the door and I'm in and back next to him in probably less than 10 seconds.
I climb up a ladder to shine on the snake from above. Even without my glasses on, I kinda wanted to hurl. I could see the fuzzy outline, and I had definitely underestimated the size. It was was "standing" up half it's length waiting to strike.
Before DR can get a good angle to come at it from, the snake sees his shadow against the fence and strikes at it. We both flinch, causing another adrenaline rush and another a wave a nausea for me.
D.R. finally gets it taken care of and as he cuts the rattle off, I realize why the snake had sounded smaller than it really was. Although the snake was over the five foot mark, large for a diamondback, he didn't have nearly as many buttons on his rattle as one that size usually would, making him sound smaller than his true size.
At 54° on a June night, I would have expected a rattle snake to move slower than this one did. I guess no one gave the snake the memo. Regardless, I'm genuinely happy to have it gone and I'm happy to report we've had no further night time rattling since.
“Mr. Robinson....can you tell us what happened at the Rattlesnake Battle of West Camp?"
*knocks back a shot of Pendleton as a far away look takes over and the sounds of chopper blades and Fortunate Son can be heard*
It was the summer of ‘19. Operations Spring Works and Wire Stretching had proven successful. Engagements of the enemy Diamondback and Prairie Rattlers had been light but steady. We assumed their numbers had been thinned due to a long, cold winter...time would prove how wrong we were...This is where our story begins.
June 13th, West Camp, 2300 hrs.
Operation Trip Hopper had consumed most of the day. Allied troops had settled in to dream of engaging strays and the capture of Maverick cattle only to be awoken by the screams of the women of West Camp and frenzied reports of enemy forces in sector Back Porch.
With no time to don proper battle gear, Cowpunchers were deployed in only Kevlar Calvin Kleins, leaving Comanche war bonnets and Spartan lids where they lay.
We could hear the steady chatter of enemy fire just outside of Bedroom Window Bravo. We skirted their forces just to the northeast and assumed positions just to the west of Back Porch Steps.
crackle of radio static
“General Maxfeldt, this is Cowpuncher actual, over.”
“Received Cowpuncher actual. Please report on enemy strength and numbers.”
“Be advised, General, enemy strength unknown. It’s dark as a sumbuck out here. The water is too muddy. Requesting air illumination on last known enemy position.”
“Copy actual, deploying Huey air support. Code name Ladder. Stand by for receipt of Maglight. ETA two minutes.”
The steady thump of Ladder could be heard as the snap of Maglight revealed the largest force seen yet at West Camp.
“Holy s***! Be advised Ma’am! Enemy forces are larger than predicted! Well trained regulars! This is a real Leg HAMMER! Requesting immediate fire support! BRING THE RAIN!!”
“Standby actual! Scrambling gunships Winchester 30-30 and Ruger .45! Cleared hot! Will engage upon arrival! ETA one Minute.”
“Be advised! Be advised! Enemy has fortified too close to West Camp House! Fear large collateral damage from firepower! STAND DOWN!! We will engage the enemy on his own ground in close quarters combat! ...If anything should happen...you tell them what happened here...you tell them.”
“Roger Actual...good luck and God speed...”
As General Maxfeldt remained on standby from her perch on Ladder, steadily deploying Maglight, Cowpuncher Comanche war cries filled the night as we charged the enemy with only our trusty shovel...
“Remember the Alamo!”
“Cowpunchers! PREPARE FOR GLORY!!!”
“God Bless George Strait!!”
The sporadic rattle of the enemy could be heard reverberating from the walls. Steel met scale as we clashed in the most heated battle of the summer. The barking of dogs, the writhing of the enemy serpent, and the shouts of the Cowpuncher rolled and echoed across the yard...
And as soon as it had started...it was over. The enemy lay coiled in his death throws as victory was claimed and scalps were taken.
We returned home, bloodspattered and battle weary but proud, knowing that we alone had held the line against the enemy.”
Dakota Robinson and Sarah Maxfeldt-Robinson live on a ranch in the high desert of New Mexico.
He works as a full-time cowboy. Word slinger. Day dreamer. Adventure seeker. Connoisseur of yellow bellies and nutty buddies or anything made of meat and potatoes. Bronc rider. Cow fighter. Shipless pirate on a sagebrush sea.
She is the Owner of Too Tall Outlaw. Halter maker. Picture taker. Cookie baker. Lover of Jesus, plant indentification and any thing, place, or person with a story to tell. Wanna-be artist of words and paint.