Friday, May 8, 2015

Mythical Rattlesnake Hoax Finally Solved?



By Tom Correa

The young man above is in fact Zachary Andrews. No, he did not kill what some have described as being a 12 foot snake with his own bare hands to save the lives of a 37 small children in a lifeboat after they were attacked by marauding Venezuelan pirates.

Fact is, in the picture, he is holding a 6 foot 9 inch Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake which he did shoot in 2012 on the Suwannee River in Florida. The photo of him with his kill went viral after it appeared on Facebook.

Tall tales of the snake range from it being killed in Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, Arkansas, and even as far north as Illinois and Minnesota.  

Sizes varies from story to story with the size of the snake ranging between 9 feet 9 inches long to a whopping 12 feet 6 inches. And yes, it has been reported that the snake was shot, run over, stepped on by a horse, sat on, and so on and on as to how it was killed. 

It was found next to a stream, next to a swamp, near some children, about to eat a dog, ready to attack a bicyclist, in a home, in a cupboard, atop a refrigerator, in a tack room, in a school, in an airport restroom, and even on flight going to England. 

One report said that it was only stunned after killing 47 Muslim terrorists who were having lunch at the White House. Another report said it is being made an honorary citizen of New York City but will now live out it's life with honors in the Cleveland Zoo.

The snake in the picture has been identified as a very long Eastern Diamondback, and how it ended up in that Chicago school restroom no one knows. And no, there's no clarification to the rumor that Obama wet himself when he heard that it was heading for his vacation home in Martha's Vineyard. 

This snake is not considered the world's largest rattlesnake ever known to science. Although, I have no idea if that is the truth or not. Sounds great though.

One very convincing story, almost as good as the lie that Obama told us about keeping our medical insurance if we like it, is that the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake was once found in mainly eastern Louisiana but is now nearly gone and can only be found on  golf courses on Maui where there are no snakes.

Another story about this picture was along side a great story about how Jackalopes are not to be trusted when they've been drinking Irish whiskey. Yes, it was very informative. But really, while it was informative, everyone knows Jackalopes are Bourbon drinkers! 

Information available about this snake says that it could have been somewhere else since 1999 and only recently returned to New Hampshire and Minnesota. 

If you deal with Facebook as I do, you will certainly notice how stories have a tendency to come back around again and again and again. 

This happens so much so that the other day I caught myself getting all fired up over a story about Obama -- in the exact same way as I did when I read it the first time in 2010. 

It was something about Obama lying again and how horrible we all are for thinking that the President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, a man with the most transparent administration in history, would lie to the American people.

Imagine that! The nerve of thinking such a thing of a Democrat who was so loved around the world. Yes, I almost choked typing that line.

But yes, Facebook can sort of be like Alzheimers for anyone on it. After all, every time the same old story comes around again, it's all just another chance for us to test our senses to see if we will hate it again, make us LOL, LMAO, LMFAO, or ROTFLMAO.

In the case of this snake story, I have laughed out loud. And yes, it feels so go to type "laughed out loud" instead of that lazy LOL stuff.   

Amazing as it sounds, don't forget that stories like this are not always to be trusted. A sure sign that I don't trust this giant snake story is the fact that I'm right now stretching the truth and telling a tall tale about it. 

You see, besides it being passed around for years, every once in a while a bored writer, such as myself, will get a hold of it and will have a whack at it to see how much taller we can make the tale. 

Yes, the 19th Century tradition of publishing a great hoax is alive and well in America. Was the snake really killed in a Louisiana court house by a Nun wearing comfortable shoes, or a Mississippi Chinese restaurant by a cook who decided to use it instead of cat, or was it found on the floor of the California legislature where it felt at home among the other cold blooded things that crawl on their bellies? 

One report said the picture was of a young man who just removed the snake from the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock Arkansas next to the cigar section in the bookstore.

Whether these claims were true or not has never been the point, the point is that this Crotalus Adamanteus is huge! The picture catches our attention because of the length of this monster. Made-up on multiple levels or not, we can see by the picture that this particular snake would scare the pants off most normal folks of any race. Does my saying that make the snake a "racist"? 

Of course the latest tale about this picture to hit Facebook goes as follows: "Pat Long and his son sat in a blind hunting hogs when the snake poked his head in the blind."

The tale continues by saying "Pat's son shot the snake... it's 9'6" long with 22 rattles, the head more than five inches wide, the fangs 2.5" long. Anybody going for a walk in the woods this weekend? LOL! "

Forget about the part about hunting hogs in a blind, which I have problems with since I've hunted hogs but never in a blind. Friends, you don't need a blind to hunt hogs. They are just about everywhere these days. Those nasty suckers are in so many places these days that even tree-hugging California Environmentalist are starting to see the positive side of killing wild hogs.

But I digress! And yes, I've always wanted to use the word digress in an article -- I've just never had the opportunity until right now.

Yes, whoever "Pat Long" is no one knows. But 21-year-old Zachary Andrews of Florida has said that he is surprised at all the attention he has received after killing the snake near his home on the Suwanee River. Yes, Zach did it. Not some fictitious person named Pat.

"What looks like a 10 foot Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake was really 6 feet 9 inches and weighed about 15 pounds," said Zachary Andrews, who really shot the snake in December of 2012.  I typed that in my radio voice.

He also clarified that the snake only had 13 rattles, and not the two dozen or so as have some reported. "The picture does make it look bigger than it was," he said. Again I typed that in my radio voice.

Mr Andrews, who is attending Troy University in Alabama and studying Criminal Justice, said he was deer hunting with family along the Suwanee River in Levy County, Florida, when they spotted the snake coming out of the woods. Yes, that's for real. For real real.

"I don’t kill every snake I see," he said. "But I’m definitely going to kill a rattlesnake on our property. My family hunts out there, and I have little cousins."

Mr Andrews, who doesn't have a Facebook page, said his father took the now well circulated photo and his brother uploaded it to Facebook. From there, the photo took on a life of its own and spread across the web like a spark in dry grass.

And yes, besides attesting to the fact that a spark moves quickly through dry grass, I can also attest to the fact that the photo appears on many websites with all sorts of different explanations. 

Of course, none of those other sites are as accurate as you're getting here! Darn right! And no, that wasn't my radio voice!

Mr Andrews said he has been taken aback by the attention that he has gotten from the photo. In fact, he said that he was in Georgia at a concert when someone in the crowd recognized him.

He said about the man, "He pulled up the photo (on his phone); and sure enough, it was me, He said, ‘My buddies won’t believe I met you.’ I thought that was pretty funny."

The intention of the photo was never to deceive anyone, Mr Andrews said. And yes, he said he is very happy to get the real story about the snake out there hoping it would put an end to all the misinformation.

"It was a big snake," he said. "But it wasn't 10 feet."

So now, just like finding out that Wyatt Earp was in fact a pimp, or that Doc Holliday was a bad shot, or that Wild Bill never took on 20 men in a gun battle with the fictitious McCanles gang, really now, why would you believe me after reading it here?

OK, so I have my Historian hat on now. Did I hear someone say, "Please no, not that?" Fine. But I need to, so that I can wrap this up and go have a beer!

Sure, I could have made up Zachary Andrews in the same way that writer George Ward Nichols made up the story about a man who he branded "Wild Bill Hickok"?

Yes, I could be inventing Zachary Andrews for an article to get more readers for my blog, the exact same way Nichols invented Wild Bill for the article which he wrote for Harper's New Monthly Magazine back in 1867.

The difference is that here I'm simply reporting a find and having a lot of fun with it. Yes, I think it is a great story and a wonderful example of how stories on the Internet can grow completely out of proportion.Yes, they can take on a life of their own.

Unlike what Nichols did for Hickok, I have no illusions of making Zachary Andrews famous. No, I'm not going to brand him with a moniker such as "Suwanee River Snake Killer." No, I won't dare!

First of all, while I've tried writing fiction, I'm not a fiction writer. I cannot image the "Suwanee River Snake Killer" as being the normal character found in many books today.

You know the type, a loner, a troubled man with a troubled girlfriend. Someone with a troubled past from a troubled place where trouble follows him, trouble haunts him. Troubled, very troubled.

No, Zachary Andrews, the young man who could be branded the "Suwanee River Snake Killer," is not one of the many brooding fictitious characters that can be found on HBO and Showtime.

In reality, Mr Andrews is attending Troy University in Alabama and studying Criminal Justice. He said he was deer hunting with family along the Suwanee River in Levy County, Florida, when they spotted the snake coming out of the woods. Yes, that's the real story.

Wait a minute, I already said that. Oh so what, it's not like I don't repeat myself in other blogs.

So, know the truth! In reality, while I am having fun with this story, I'd never attempt to spin a yarn and pass it off as real. While Mark Twain did in fact do just that on three different occasions way back when, all three times he got himself in deep sheep shit and had to explain himself.

Friends, explaining what you were doing when you proceeded to perpetrate a hoax is something that people don't do anymore. And frankly, that's probably because they've ripped people off and will end up in jail for it.

Take for example how Al Gore has never been made to come forward and explain his "Global Warming" scam, especially after all of his dire predictions have turned out to be false and his cohorts in the United Nations were caught faking data to prove something that isn't happening. Some hoaxes are just con games, scams, swindles, all meant to make someone rich while ripping someone off.

But no, I don't need to create a hoax because I find reality strange enough that most people won't believe me anyways. Of course, I have found that my Grandfather's advice to be absolutely true when he said, "Tell people the truth, because all in all they won't believe it anyways."

My old Gunnery Sgt said story telling was not an art. He said it is actually easy. In fact, he once told me that the secret to telling a good fish story was to "keep the fish the same size but make the catching sound better."

So no, I don't have to even attempt to spin a yarn and pass it off as real. For me there are simply so many incredible stories that already sound like yarns, why lie? And yes, they are all much more unbelievable than anything that I can come up with -- and they're real.

As for the yarn that writer George Nichols spun about a man who he branded "Wild Bill" in 1867? Well, Nichols' story of a frontiersman who took on 20 badmen single-handed made Nichols a lot of money. And indeed it created a myth, one which we know as Wild Bill Hickok.

As for Wild Bill himself, I believe it must have been pretty tough for him to try to live up to his own myth -- all while being a very real legend in his own time.  

And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa


©Tom Correa


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