Our Gospel Snake

Photo by Steve Sorensen

Contributing Writer
Steve Sorensen

Killer and Mud aren’t proper names for missionary kids, but that’s what my cousins wanted me to call them. When they weren’t being missionaries in Japan they lived in Minnesota. They said something about guys named Killer Brew and Mud Cat being twins on a baseball team there.

I figured Killer and Mud had lots of missionary experience with nature even though they never killed any animals. Mud told me “We love animals, just the same as people who kill them do.” Maybe they just never came across any critters that needed killing in Japan, like deer or woodchucks. Or snakes.

We got to see Killer and Mud only every few years. One of those was the summer of the snake. The week before they arrived, I was weeding the garden and took a break to use the outhouse. Mom was in there, so I went behind the barn. While I was there, I saw a big fat snake. The beginning and the end were under dead leaves, so I couldn’t tell how long it was. I just knew it was big enough for me to run and get the third best snake weapon, a garden hoe, which I’d seen my grandma use. Shotguns and hand grenades are better because you don’t have to get too close, but Dad said to stop using those near buildings.

I wasn’t scared but I’m the efficient type, so I ran. When I walked back with the hoe the snake was gone. I wondered if it could see me even though I couldn’t see it, ’cause you don’t want snakes hiding in case they’re rattlesnakes. Or boa constrictors. It’s a good idea to see them before they bite you or squeeze you.

For the next week I was too busy to go behind the barn. Every day I had to feed the chickens and the rabbits and weed our garden. That was also the summer our well went dry and I had to haul water. And the summer I helped Dad upgrade us to a coal furnace. I had a good reason not to go behind the barn, which was I was busy, not scared.

One day Killer and Mud came to play the wiffle ball world series against Randy and me. Randy said it would be legit because Killer and Mud were from the other side of the world. Before the game we sat at the picnic table and Mom opened the back door (actually, our only door) to bring out a big tray of sandwiches. That big snake was slithering up the steps at her.

Mom screamed and went back inside. Lucky for her, she didn’t drop the tray of sandwiches or she would have had to make more. We ran to the steps and saw the snake between us and Mom. Lucky for us, the fourth best snake weapon was leaning against the steps. Killer grabbed my BB gun, cocked it, and shot the snake. “Shoot it again,” I said, quite a few times, until the snake finally stopped moving.

It turned out the snake wasn’t a rattler, or a boa constrictor. It was a garter snake, 37 inches long and as fat as the balloon tires on my bike. Maybe not a world record but plenty big enough to scare people. Not me, of course, but people who aren’t me. Like Mom and Killer and Mud. I went along with its killing in case it was big enough to eat one of our Banty chickens.

After our world series game Uncle Paul came to pick up Killer and Mud. With him being a missionary and all, I figured he did a lot of preaching and would always be on the lookout for a sermon illustration or an object lesson. So I offered him the snake.

I told him he could use it for a sermon about the snake in the Garden of Eden, or the walking stick Moses turned into a snake. Maybe he’d use it to preach about Jesus throwing that great serpent Satan into the lake of fire in Revelation. And if he ever got to preach to any Pharisees, he could throw it into the crowd while calling them a brood of vipers. I told Uncle Paul it would be his choice.

I was glad to help Uncle Paul spread the gospel. Killer was glad he finally deserved his name. And Mud said that old snake probably had a mate hanging around, so let’s go catch it. But I had a garden to weed and water to haul and coal to shovel and critters to feed, so I was too busy to go look for a harmless old snake. Not scared, just busy.

When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting, he’s thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, www.EverydayHunter.com. He is a field contributor to Deer and Deer Hunting magazine, and won the 2015 and 2018 national “Pinnacle Award” for outdoor writing.

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Steve Sorensen of Russell, PA is an award-winning writer whose column, The Everyday Hunter®, offers hunting tips, strategies, insights and occasional humor. His byline has appeared in the nation's top hunting magazines and he is a field contributor to "Deer and Deer Hunting" magazine. Steve is also in demand as an event speaker, presenting programs on do-it-yourself Alaska moose hunting, whitetail deer, wild turkeys, and eastern coyotes, with new programs coming. E-mail him at [email protected] to invite him to speak at your next sportsman's dinner (or to tell him where your best hunting spot is).