Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Snake!
Shot, Killed, then ATE a snake!
or... Randy the Dog Whisperer.

3rd of January, 2007

Written in: Poblacion, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, PHILIPPINES
Composition: Skeletal Notes.
Previous Post: Hilltop Day Drive

I had just come back from the bayan or poblacion (town centre) for internet access, having just finished telling the story of my trip to Ilocos in this very blog - speaking of something weeks after the fact, just as I am doing right now with this entry.

It was around midafternoon, around 3 o'clock. Marco was outside their living room, in their porch, reading a law textbook and reviewing for his BAR exams.

I stopped to greet him and had small talk about our adventure the day before. Afterwards, I proceeded to take the short walk home to the other house, in Uncle Tito's side of the property - where I am staying for this vacation. As I did so, I noticed something odd about one of the dogs leashed on the granary. Spot, a spotted dog of the Canis philippiniensis variety (Philippine Mongrel.. haha) was shaking, barking, whining and acting all edgy.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-RIvHR1F0rr0/UstWXvSpcSI/AAAAAAAAAho/ecPXSTQqlnM/s1600/IMG_0056.JPGNow, Spot's always been an edgy dog. He's the kind of dog who'd bark when other dogs from a mile away are barking. He's the kind of dog who'd bark at at the wind, the trees.. whatever. Anything can set him off. Anyone else who knew Spot (yes, knew.. more on this on subsequent posts) would have just ignored him.

But, me, I'm weird that way I guess. I notice subtle animal body language. Spot's in trouble, I thought.

"Spot! Anong Problema? (Spot! What's up Dawg?)", I asked the dog, somewhat half expecting an answer.

He gazed at me, and then just continued barking and whining towards some leaves on the ground.

Then, there was movement at the spot that Spot was looking at.

I went for a closer look, and noticed a reptilian head facing off with the dog. Just a small reptile, I dismissed. A skink, maybe?

But Spot was really edgy. So he made a sudden movement which made the 'small reptile' move. Turns out, it wasn't a small reptile, but a sizable snake!

Marco was still within earshot, so I yelled, "Maco! May Ahas! (Dude! There's a snake here!)"

He ran towards me and asked, "Ows? Malaki ba? (No shit? Is it big?)" As he saw it for himself he remarked, "Bah! Malaki nga! (Holy shit! It IS big!)

He ran back towards their house to get something. During the few moments he was gone, and Spot and I were left looking at the snake, I had a thought of just grabbing it, a-la Steve Irwin. But then I decided against this, for I didn't even know what kind of snake this was in the first place. Well, it's a good thing I decided against this!

Anyways, Marco returned with a .22 Cal Semiautomatic tube-fed Remington Rifle.

He lifted the rifle to his shoulders, and from a standing position, he shot once.

BANG! Missed. The dirt splashed and raised a small cloud of dust, provoking the snake.

He shot again.

BANG! Missed again. Another small cloud of dust and another movement from the snake. This time though, it seemed ready to stand it's ground and fight. We couldn't just scare it off.

He handed the rifle to me, I shot it from the kneeling position for more stability. Four years in the Army Infantry Reserve did teach me a few things in terms of marksmanship.

Breath. Relax. Steady. If the target is moving, put some 'lead' into it - shoot ahead so the target walks into your line of fire. Failing that, wait for it to stop.

Well, I got lucky and the snake stopped. Line 'er up. Smooth on the trigger and... BANG!

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-hQ77VGlehu0/UstsG61CPWI/AAAAAAAAAic/BpxqZl7WTvQ/s1600/IMG_0050.JPGA HIT! 15 feet away from a long slender target and I hit it! Woo hoo!

The reptile thrashed about and tried to escape into some farmyard machinery. I couldn't get a second shot. So I put the rifle on safe, laid it down, grabbed a stick and just went after the snake. Marco and I pounded it to death.

It died after a few minutes and we took measurements. 4 feet and 2 inches long.

Still unsure about what kind of snake it was, we were at least sure of 2 things. It's aggressive, and it was NOT a python. Pythons are far larger, hunt in the night, have a distinctly 'lumpy' head, and have very beautiful and colourful camouflage patterns. I would know if I saw one for the simple fact that we see them around the property all the time. And I wouldn't shoot it; I probably could have just grabbed it.

We took some photos, hung it to bleed, and waited for Uncle Tito.

After his shift at the Barangay Hall, he took one look at the snake and said, "O, eh, Ulupong yan ah! (uhm, guys? You just killed a Philippine COBRA!)"

So we had a dead snake. A COBRA at that! What do we do? We thought. I wanted the skin as a trophy, so we skinned the thing. And as it hung here, skinless, Uncle Tito blurted out, "Kinakain ng iba yan, ah. (You know. These things are edible - people eat it.)"

It was already skinless, and the next step in gutting it was about as straightforward as gutting an animal could get. We decided, we'd eat it! Might as well - it was fresh as fresh meat could get.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-4UbrMA8_d6Y/UstsM2Nr2DI/AAAAAAAAAik/kRCY6StTMW8/s1600/IMG_0061.JPGMarco chopped it up and cooked it dry Adobo Style. How was it? Well, to be on the safe side, he overpowered it with garnish and spices - it was far too slimy to be enjoyed for its own meaty goodness. The texture was a lot like old and tough turkey or really old chicken, but far more oily. And the skeletal system made it seem like I was eating fish.

We thought it would be best enjoyed with beer, so that's what we did. Fritz joined us in Marco's dirty kitchen* and we had a good time reliving that one moment of excitement.

*Usually, besides the normal kitchen, Filipinos who have the space create a wholly separate area where foods that smell, smoke, or splatter too much (typical in Asian cooking) can be cooked and prepared.


In retrospect:

Judge me if you want, but here's the thing.

If I encounter a snake - any kind of snake - in the wild, I'd probably just ignore and or get out of its way, if possible. I don't kill for sport, nor do I kill for fun. Though, I must admit, I felt a certain sense of primal satisfaction in having shot something which I perceived as a threat to one of our dogs.

Also, we don't make it a habit in shooting wildlife around the Family property. There are at least a few Pythons suspected to be roaming around our place at this time. Perhaps closing in to 5 feet long. At this length they are content to hunt small rodents, other reptiles, and some other birds roosting for the night. We too are content to have them around, keeping mice and rat population in check. When they get longer however, that's when they start going for livestock. By that point, my Uncle, as a farmer, has no choice but to put it down.

How do we justify this? Beyond being a threat to livestock and ourselves, pythons approaching 8 feet are quite old. They've probably reproduced many times over. As well, that's a size where the wild prey around our property cannot support them anymore - hence why they start going after the chickens. Remember too, this is not a place where you could just ring up Animal Services or some other social institution that deals with wildlife intruding onto human habitat.

Frankly, I had no other choice.

Photoset in Flickr.

Next Post: Another Funeral
Related Post: This Modern Hilot... 
                         Spot was here


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