We had a favorite trout lake named McCoy Lake. It wasn’t a very big lake, didn’t have much for scenery around it, and the twenty some miles of dirt road was rough driving. The lake was pretty remote with no facilities nearby. We would take large coolers with block ice to keep our trout and food cool. We often pitched a tent and stayed overnite. One of the best trips to McCoy Lake was a weekend trip with my dad and his friend Bryce. It was a great experience for an eleven year old.
The first morning in camp Dad and Bryce took a walk to gather additional firewood for the weekend. My chores were to clean up after breakfast and make sure everything was in it’s place to go fishing. When Dad and Bryce were crossing a downed dead tree they encountered a rattlesnake. This was not uncommon at McCoy Lake. Normally the snake would be left alone, but they were concerned about the snakes close proximity to the only camp site on the lake. They killed the snake and cut off the rattles. When they returned to camp Dad gave me the rattles.
The rattles remained in my pants pocket all weekend. One of my activities when things were quiet was to play with them and try to make them rattle like a snake. It’s not as easy as you would think. We loaded everything up on Sunday afternoon and headed for home. Dad and Bryce were in the front seat and my seat was in the back among all the camping gear. The rattles were in my hand and try as I might they wouldn’t rattle like a snake. Out of frustration and maybe a little temper tantrum, the rattles were squeezed as hard as I could squeeze them between my index finger and thumb. BZZZZ, BZZZZ, BZZZZ.
Dad hit the brakes and the car slid to a stop. The sudden stop wadded me up against the back of the front seat with my rattles. “Get out of the car”, Dad yelled as he bailed out, “There’s a snake under the seat. Kenny get your feet off the floor and jump out of there!!”
To make a long story short, that was the end of my rattles. Dad and Bryce got a good laugh out of what happened when it was all over. This adventure is probably one of my favorites and has been retold many times. There are still a set of rattles in my what not cupboard……..but my experience at McCoy Lake taught me not to play with them when anyone is around. The true rattle noise has never been duplicated again after all these years.