By: Tonya Stevenson
As far as dates went when I met Otie, we went dancing one time before we were engaged, otherwise I went along to help him work. This is one day you might question my sanity, let alone his.
Hunters spotted some missing steers on the mountain. So, we hauled our horses up and rode from there. We found two steers, which we kicked down towards Sand Creek, then rode on looking for the others. Not finding more, we returned to gather the first steers. They had disappeared. Now hurrying to beat dark we split up, taking separate canyons.
My canyon was the shorter to the fence line. When I reached the top without finding anything, I decided to climb over the steep rocky ridge and drop into Miners Creek where Otie was. I was riding Otie’s brother Randy’s gruella gelding named Smoky. As I began to descend down the precipitous slope I hear rattles. On a rock shelf maybe six feet from me, I spy three rattlesnakes.
I’d been around just long enough to understand there was highly contested competition between all the guys over who was “low crawl of the year,” (killed the most rattlesnakes). Each killed between twenty to the high thirties each year. Wanting to please Otie I decide I’ll try to kill these snakes for him. I grab a rock easily off the vertical slope without dismounting and let it fly. When that rock struck the whole mountain went to buzzing. It was wakeup moment. There were snakes everywhere. Suddenly my consuming concern was getting me and Smoky down unbitten. Warily we worked the steep descent to the creek bottom below. Trotting a couple turns up the creek I met Otie.
I start spilling my adventure and he gets excited.
“You found a den.” He exclaims “Can you show me where?”
“Do I have to?” I ask apprehensively. It is dusk now, getting harder to see. Going back up that rattlesnake ridge was not my idea of fun. Otie’s enthusiasm prevailed. We tied our horses to a bush and began to climb.
Charlie Pride sang “The snakes crawl at night.” In high country on a cool September night, they are all crawling to the den. We’d barely reached the base of the hill before Otie stomps a snakes head, grabbing his body pulling the head off, then pops off the rattles. A couple strides and a couple snakes later one is in the sagebrush. To my horror, the idiot grabs a rock; rather than throw it, he holds the rock smashing down on the snake then violently flings his arms back.
“Did he get you?” I holler.
“No, just thought he did,” he replies.
Now pinning the wounded snake’s head, he continues up the hill against my protests. On the steep slope a snake above is striking at his upper body, Otie side steps away. Not far up the hill we find the first hole inside looks like a bucket of guts. Otie is standing there lamenting he has nothing to drag them out, with snakes still crawling in around us to get to the den. My skin is crawling.
Suddenly Otie commands, “Tonya, be still.”
I follow his gaze to end of my feet where a rattlers body squirms. Taking in a deep breath of relief as I realize he no longer has a head. Otie kills another snake coming to the den. Finally, I convince him to make the treacherous descent back down in the fast fading light that remains.
The rest of the guys were green at the gills when we arrive at the house and Otie throws his rattles at them.
“No fair! You found a den,” was the chorus.
The next morning we would return, finding holes and snakes all the way to the top where Smoky and I ran into the first three. They had a cook, a vet who had served three tours in Vietnam. He insisted on cooking us rattlesnake.
I unashamedly don’t like snakes. The serpent was the creature Satan entered to tempt Eve to doubt God, to convince her God was withholding something from her; after God had given man a good and perfect Earth;, Eve ate of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and gave it to Adam, who ate also. Through their sin they opened the door that flooded our world with evil, and gave man’s dominion of Earth to Satan. That day man died spiritually (was separated from God) and began to die physically. All men were doomed. Rev. 20:14-15 tells us, “And death and Hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” However, God had a plan that even in the curse he revealed.
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed (Christ); it shall bruise they head, and thou shall bruise his heel (at the cross.)” God promised the serpent.
Now that is crazy love, that God would become man , be crucified to pay for our sins, rise conquering death and offer us eternal life for believing Him.