Mangum Rattlesnake Derby!

recently, we had the opportunity to visit riley’s mission in oklahoma and texas. it had been seven years since he was there! i was excited because i knew it would be a unique experience that not many people get to have and i couldn’t wait to finally meet some of the people from his mission. we were able to stay with a family from his mission and they were so nice! the son is now in high school so it was a blast to hang out with him all weekend. he reminded me so much of my brother which was fun since bryce was still on his mission at the time :) the main reason we went to oklahoma at this specific time was to go to the rattlesnake derby! it’s a week where they go hunt rattlesnakes and round them up for a big carnival in the tiny town. we were excited for warm southern weather but we were surprised with freezing and windy temps! we were not prepared at all! the day we went to the derby, tents were blowing over, hot chocolate was sold out, and there were almost no crowds! it was pretty sad but we still had a blast. there were carnival rides and fried food (i of course got fried oreos), but we were mostly interested in seeing the snake pit, butchering of snakes, and of course, eating some rattlesnake! i also have to mention that we found a little antique shop which had a treasure trove of blue and white dishes! the lady was so sweet and offered us an amazing deal to buy all of it, but we had to get it all home somehow so we only bought the plates. but they are some of my favorite possessions now!

okay, let’s start with the snake pit. we went into the tent and the sound was unreal! there were probably hundreds of snakes in there and all of their rattlers were rattling! there were a few men in the pit, picking the snakes up and telling us all about them. we saw the snakes’ fangs close up, dripping in venom. sometimes the snakes would strike at the guys’ legs if they were brave enough. luckily they were wearing thick pants and high boots. it didn’t phase the men at all. we learned how to tell if a snake is venomous, why some snakes’ rattlers are bigger than others, and other snake facts we never thought we’d need to know ;)

now, this is going to get graphic! i wasn’t going to share all of the pics of the snakes getting butchered, but riley told me i should and i think my grandpa might appreciate it :) it was disgusting to watch, but i could’t look away! and listen, i love animals- even snakes! i don’t take pleasure in seeing them killed but this was humane and part of their way of living in this part of oklahoma. we watched the guy butcher 3 snakes and after he did it, every time he’d end with saying “nothin to it but to do it” ;) it was crazy too because the snake would continue to move after it was butchered because all of the nerves were still settling. we also learned that if you cut a snake’s head off, you should bury it because it can still snap at you for the same reason! nasty stuff! it was also cool to see them taking the venom from some snakes to be used for medicine. after watching the butcherings, we tried some of the snake meat. it was fried so it was hard to tell how it really tasted but it mostly tasted like fried chicken haha. it was surprisingly difficult to eat because there were so many bones and the meat was really tough to get off of them! the overall texture was kinda rubbery. i’m glad i tried it and i would totally try it again!

riley had been talking about this rattlesnake derby probably since i met him so it was fun to finally be there in real life! and to see some of the towns where he served on his mission was pretty cool. we made a couple stops along the way back because the fields and sky were so beautiful!oklahoma is so different than anywhere i’ve ever been. i have truly never heard the wind blow the way it did in oklahoma. we couldn’t resist playing “oklahoma” on our road trip! These lyrics of the song were perfect: “Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain, And the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet When the wind comes right behind the rain.”

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