Only twice have I encountered them in the wild. Once walking around a mountain in the refuge, no big deal. The other was while fishing around a tall-grass pond bank. I never saw it, but the millisecond it started rattling, I popped my Crocs in reverse and went on fishing the other way around. Still, the idea of catching rattlesnakes is still somewhat odd to me. They have alarms on them to keep humans from a painful bite, so why do we continue to gather up these danger noodles? Because it's kind of neat.

Have you ever been to see a rattlesnake pit in the middle of a festival? It's like a giant free-roaming cage these slithering noise-makers get tossed into for the sheer enjoyment of so many people. Admit it, you've probably never been that close to a rattlesnake, and the barrier makes it safe enough to let your fears take a moment off duty.

If you didn't know, April is full of rattlesnake events in SWOK. Waurika held theirs last weekend, but I think most people are pretty in tune with the Apache Rattlesnake Festival that happens every year. It's the closest to us, and we always talk about it. It actually starts this Thursday and rolls through Sunday with all of the events you've become accustomed to over the years.

The weekend after that, there's another big rattlesnake event a little off to our West in a really small little farming community that has one of the last remaining of the classic Pizza Huts in the country... They still have those crystal red Coca-Cola cups that have been battered by the hungry for decades. The Mangum Rattlesnake Derby takes place the last weekend of this month, and is always a crowd pleaser as it draws those big fat Western Oklahoma/Texas Panhandle snakes into the competition. The biggest rattlers I've ever seen were at that festival, measures some seven feet long and as big around as my calf... at least that's how it remains in my memory.

If you're new to SWOK, don't miss your chance to experience something that is pure SWOK. Get your selfies, hold a snake, eat a snake, and show everyone back home just how weird and wonderful this place is.

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