View Full Version : She's one righteous rattler wrangler

Tim Cole
02-13-2005, 02:07 PM
This is probably not for the BOI but I did want it seen by the masses. I could call it a bad deal with goverment agencies? The "Austin American Statesman" had this article in the front page of Sundays paper 2/13/05. Here is the article.

By Asher Price
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Edna McDonald, 88, sets out on a Hill Country hunt.

Floyd Parr keeps a safe distance as McDonald wrangles
a rattler. She'll later bring the snakes to the
Oglesby Rattlesnake Roundup, and eventually, sell them
to a Dallas food vendor.

EVANT  In late winter, 88-year-old Edna McDonald dons
a camouflage jacket over her teddy-bear embroidered
shirt, grabs her purse and her rattlesnake tongs and
heads out on the hunt.

January and February are snake-hunting season for
Edna. It's been that way since she started handling
the creatures as a babe like some Hill Country
Hercules. On Tuesday afternoon, enveloped in a low,
cool fog, she leaned on the side of a steep hill,
littered with limestone and armadillo holes, and
peered into a cleft in a rock with the help of a

She had gathered her usual entourage, all packed into
a couple of pickups: J.J. Kuzenka, her property
caretaker and trusted deputy; DW McDonald, her easily
frightened 80-year-old husband from whom a nod is as
good as a yes; and Floyd and Frances Parr, who spotted
the rattlesnakes on the land they lease to run their

"When you hear she hunts rattlesnakes you'd think
she's got teeth missing or a dirty braid down her
back," Frances Parr, 76, said.

But Edna McDonald, who has at least three mirrors in
her plush red bathroom, gently adjusts her full head
of glossy black curls now and then and sips ice water
out of a Styrofoam cup. And chats. (She won, she says
repeatedly, a public speaking prize in 1970.)

DW  those aren't initials; the youngest of 13
children, he was charged with naming himself  grins
about how she wanted to prowl for rattlesnakes on a
date: "She was so refined, it surprised me."

At Edna's home, a red brick house off U.S. 84, there's
the taxidermied baby snake poised to strike atop her
kitchen VCR and a rubber snake peeps out of the
trellis. In the living room, a putrid odor seeps from
a white bucket beside the sofa. Inside curls a sick
snake she's been nursing. The reptile, it later turned
out, was dead.

In her barn, in large wooden boxes covered with
insulation and matted with hay, she puts her 40 or so
snakes to bed. (She raises white mice to feed the

She has outlasted much of Evant, a town so small (pop.
393) and left behind that the old school gym, still in
use, was a Depression-era project. She has survived
her classmates who moved to Dallas, where they traded
harder work and fresher air for softer pleasures and
look where it's gotten them. She outlived her first
husband, whose pains from cancer were eased by a
concoction that included snake venom. And, of course,
never bitten, she has prevailed over generations of

Deep in the cave, a half-dozen rattlesnakes were
curled up, hibernating. With the giddiness of a tomboy
and a wink or two at the onlookers, she slid a long
sprayer into the den while J.J. pumped in gasoline
from a two-gallon drum to tease them out. The chemical
smell wafted through the dank air.

"Why don't you just strike a match and blow them out?"
chuckled Floyd Parr, 78.

As the snakes, one by one, slithered out of the rock,
she and Kuzenka, armed with long-handled tongs,
grabbed them behind their heads, lightly enough not to
snap their vertebrae. The rattlers started vibrating,
and soon the snake bucket  a small, tightly meshed
cage  was buzzing like a forest full of cicadas.

In two weeks she will deposit the snakes into a giant
pit at the Oglesby Rattlesnake Roundup, a kind of
sensational, old-style carnival where, among other
daredevil stunts, one couple will climb into a
sleeping bag with dozens of snakes. If Edna's snakes
are among the longest, or the shortest, or the
heaviest, she will win a cash prize.

Eventually she will sell the snakes, at about $3.50 a
pound, to a man who markets them as a delicacy to
Dallas country clubs. Edna has tried rattlesnake only
once, and she was unimpressed: "It tastes like a cross
between chicken and fish."

The practice of collecting snakes with gasoline and
the roundups themselves, which also are found in
Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Alabama
and Georgia, have been roundly criticized by animal
rights and environmentalist groups.

The Humane Society claims that the number of livestock
deaths from rattlesnake bites is negligible, points
out that rattlesnakes control rodent populations and
describes the roundups as "cruel and ecologically
damaging events" that "violate the most basic
principles of wildlife management and humane living."

Investigators have witnessed participants putting
coiled snakes with golf clubs and the shutting of
snakes' mouths with wire or fishing line so they could
be used as props in photos.

At least a pair of roundups in Texas have closed in
the past couple of years as the number of hunters has
dwindled, said Chris Hamilton, a Dallas
photojournalist who is working on a book about the
fading culture of the Texas rattlesnake roundups.

"These little roundups were the identities of these
towns," he said. "That was their spring festival that
gave people a reason to have a parade or a dance."

Edna simply says her work saves cattle and horses from
debilitating bites. "What we do is we try to do
everything to help the rancher. They're the people who
grow groceries, they grow our meat," said Edna, who
was "burning up" when she was told she needed a permit
to sell the snakes last year.

The state requires any person possessing more than 25
rattlesnakes for commercial sale or trade to buy an
$18 nongame permit.

"I don't know what's happened to our Texas," she said.
"After a while you'll need to have a permit to have

Needless to say this needs to be responded to. I have written letters to the editor, TCEQ, and the EPA requesting action to be taken in reguards to the environmental damage this is doing. I also admonished the editor for publishing such a barbaric practice. If anyone is inclined to write here are some contacts.

TCEQ...Compliance and Enforcement...<oce@tceq.state.tx.us>.

U.S. EPA Region 6 http://www.epa.gov/region6/r6coment.htm

02-13-2005, 02:47 PM
I especially love the part about pumping gasoline into the ground. :throwup02 Granny needs to find a new hobby. What happened to knitting and crochet?

Thanks for the link as well.


02-13-2005, 02:51 PM
perhaps someone could pump some petrol into her house, and then grab her by the hair when she comes rushing out, choking on the fumes...
What a b*tch !!!!

02-13-2005, 02:56 PM
Oh, sorry, forgot to mention...thanks for the link, too...just wrote off a page to those morons...

Karen Hulvey
02-13-2005, 08:35 PM
Well that makes me want to puke. I guess it would be legal to pump gasoline into a lake or stream to catch fish??? It is illegal to dump used motor oil on the ground so I'm sure granny is breaking the law by pumping gasoline into the ground. How stupid. She should be arrested for that alone. At 88 maybe she won't be around to foul the land next year.