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S.C.V. History
September 25
1970 - Lagasse family helps save Mentryville buildings as Newhall and Malibu brush fires erupt & join into worst fire in SoCal history. Twelve fires over 10 days burn 525,000 acres, kill 13 people and destroy approx. 1,500 structures. [story]
Clampitt fire


Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Jul 9, 2017

When I was younger, I learned to hunt in Africa. Native Masai taught me how to throw a spear and how to fight off an attacking lion and win.

Many years later, I joined a hunting and gathering group in the Amazon basin, and my African hunting experiences came in handy. I made fishhooks so we could fish, I gathered palm grubs and chocolate flowers, made baskets to carry my delicate fruit back to camp, and boiled piles of stinging nettle to make it edible. I collected chocolate beans and traded them for rice and vegetables from people in boats passing my little village.

I also learned from the African tribesmen how to catch a snake.

The worst snake we have to deal with in California is the rattlesnake. It’s best to avoid a venomous snake if you can, but even the rattlesnake is edible.

You might not think of snake as something you really want to eat, but if there are no grocery stores open due to a natural or man-made disaster, you might think about eating a snake. I’d eat a snake before eating a bug any day. And lots of bugs are definitely edible.

Snake meat has many health benefits. It has no artificial hormones or other additives that our packaged meat has. Snake meat is consumed regularly throughout the world. In China they even make a snake wine. Snake meat is lean. It has a low fat content, fewer calories than red meat and higher protein content. The texture is similar to fish, and it has a bit of a fishy-chicken taste to it.

In Africa, they hunt and eat African rock pythons. These snakes can attain more than 20 feet in length. They can feed an entire village for days.

The men who can bring back a 20-foot python are revered. Python hunters work in pairs. One is the puller and one is the “hole guy.” The hole guy crawls into the hole to face the python head-on. When he’s bitten and the snake is holding on tight, the puller pulls out the hole guy, and the snake comes out with him. Then, all of the tribesmen carry the monster snake back to the village.

But let’s back up for a moment. No one wants to get bitten by a snake. So, the hole guy wraps up his leg or his arm – whichever body part he plans to offer to the snake.

The hole guy can use layers of cloth or leather or animal hides to protect his appendages. The thick layers are tied on with leather straps. Only then does the hole guy slowly lower a leg or an arm (or his entire body, if necessary) into the snake hole. Python snake holes are huge – more like a little cave than the golf ball-sized snake holes we see on our trails.

The hole guy uses sticks on fire to light his way to the snake. Once he’s within reach of the snake, he’ll offer his protected appendage, and the snake will strike. It is then that the hole guy will call out to the puller, or motion to him with his foot or by other means. If the snake is huge, it will be difficult to pull the hole guy out of the hole. It could take six to 10 men pulling on the hole guy’s legs, and up to an hour to yank him completely out of the hole. Or if he has only a leg that he has offered to the python, they will have to grab his arms, head and legs to try to get him out.

Following our example of “noodling” for fish, the Africans have begun calling this activity “snake noodling.” Can you imagine noodling for a snake this way? You wanna noodle for your dinner?

If you really want to taste snake, you can always order it online and have it delivered right to your door. It will already be skinned and cleaned with the head removed, as well as the venom glands if it was a venomous snake.

Some people say it tastes like chicken. It tastes more like alligator to me.

 

 

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy. Contact Dianne through communityhikingclub.org or at zuliebear@aol.com.

 

 

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. john weigelt says:

    Wonder if they are taking applications?

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