The Stinging Snake
One hot summer day my brother, me and our friends were looking for something to do so after some debate we agreed to go explore a part of the swamp that we had not been to before. There was a large swamp not far from our house that was called the “Obion Bottom.” Very few people would have ventured in where we were going. We walked the half mile or so to the swamp and got off the road and started through the dense trees and thickets to find the original river bed of the Middle Fork of the Obion River. The river at the time was in a new channel which had been dredged to drain part of the swamp. The Middle Fork of the Obion River was often referred to as the “Dredge Ditch.” The river was not very big and probably didn’t deserve the name river.
As we made our way through the swamp we had to go around places that were too muddy to walk in. I might add that I would not go into a place like that now. There were many snakes in the swamp. Some of them were even in the trees. We could see them frequently as we made our way along. At last we came to the old river bed which was now a still body of water that was stagnant and sort of muddy red. We could see something moving in the water so we though it would be wise to get some sticks and try to get whatever it was out of the water and on the bank so we could examine it better. As it turned out these were eels and a lot of them. We soon tired of that and thought is was time to start back to the house.
As we turned and started walking we encountered a very large snake. The snake stood its ground and even started coming toward us. We had the old 22 caliber rifle (see below) so we started shooting at the snake. We shot it a couple of times and it still came toward us. We kept shooting until we had killed the snake. It was about 6 feet long and was a rusty color with black stripes around it. We didn’t know quite what to do with the snake so we decided to bring it out of the swamp and take to my granddaddy to see if he knew what kind of snake we had.
We walked along the gravel road and took turns carrying the snake. Our initial examination revealed what we thought was a big stinger in the end of the tail. Since we later learned there was no such thing as a stinging snake we must have been mistaken about the stinger. I still wonder to this day what kind of snake it was. My granddaddy told us that he had never seen a snake like it before which was surprising since he had lived for many years in the same place close to the swamp.
We debated what we could do to find out more about the snake and finally came to the conclusion that the County Agent could probably tell us what we had. We waited for several days hoping that he would come out our way but he didn’t come. We had the snake lying in a ditch close to the house. As time passed the snake started to decay and still the County Agent never came. Finally there was nothing but the bones of the snake left. We always believed it was a stinging snake and that was what we told around the community. Some said they had heard of stinging snakes but had never seen one. Others had various opinions but no one knew for sure.
That was many, many years ago and the last time I was ever in the swamp. We had a lot of fun growing up in those long ago days. The only thing we had for entertainment was adventures such as this because there was no television and no radio. We had to invent and discover what we could in order to be entertained.