Monday, March 29, 2010

Hippo on the Lawn: Dances with Snakes

© 2010 Hippo on the Lawn
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" erstwhile band of trained killers resembling dancing and shrieking girl guides faced with a tiny mouse."HotL

Hippo on the LawnHippo on the Lawn, an Ex-Pat living in Luanda, Angola is a quintessential man of adventure. Not only is his taste impeccable, (Just look at his fedora!), but his posts are usually entertainingly ironic, spiritually insightful, and undeniably thought provoking. He is a very busy man, and doesn't post frequently. But when he does, it is always worth the wait!

The Hippo was gracious enough to comment at length on the Python Hunting in the Everglades post, and his comment is so well written and entertaining that by golly, it deserves a Guest Post slot of its own! (I've added the pictures for y'alls entertainment.)

So without further adieu; Hippo on the Lawn!

"A Machete (Katana Here) is Always a Good Idea."

I used to take RAF aircrew and other personnel duck shooting at Big Falls in Belize. An abandoned rice station, it was heaving with wildfowl and of course the predators that grew fat on them. There were snakes everywhere.
Image Credit: Fands.Org
The constrictors never really bothered me. I had quite a collection back at camp. It was the Tommy Goff (Bothrops asper), also know as the Fer de Lance, that scared the pants off me. Unlike most snakes that push off into the undergrowth on sensing your approach or relied on their camouflage, only causing problems if God hated you enough to make you step on them, these buggers would actually go for you.

I was running a live firing exercise on Salt Creek ranges when the advancing line suddenly broke up in confusion, weapons hitherto directed at the butts with the discipline we expect of trained soldiers now being swung in all directions, my erstwhile band of trained killers resembling dancing and shrieking girl guides faced with a tiny mouse.

So from experience, I would not recommend the FN 7.62 (.308 Winchester). God knows how many rounds the panic stricken troops loosed off before they heeded ever more frantic calls to cease firing but the damn snake had easily survived and was only dispatched by a Belizean Defence Force Sergeant with more courage than all of us combined and armed only with a bit of angle iron.
Image Cred: Squidoo
These Tommy Goffs are not just homicidally vicious, they can obviously be recruited and trained by the Guatemalans. What is the probability of the Commander British Forces being bitten by a Tommy Goff? It is not usual for a Brigadier to stray much beyond the route from his residence to his office, let alone stray into the bush but he managed to get bitten and had to be casevaced to Miami losing the larger part of his calf muscle. He would have been armed with a Browning 9mm. Or a crayon.

On another memorable occasion I had taken an RAF Flight Lieutenant to Big Falls for his first squirt with a shotgun. Naturally, he was walking ahead of me on the trail rather than behind. He disturbed a snake which, understandably irate at having its cover blown/territory invaded, went for me.

With a display of marksmanship and snap shooting that would make Herb Parsons look like an amateur, this guy cut the snake in half with a load of SG.

Now I ask you. What would be more terrifying? The sudden appearance of an angry Tommy Goff or staring down the barrel of a semi automatic 12 Bore Browning in the hands of a first timer?

So, from my experience:

7.62 SLR, Dangerously Bad.

9mm Browning, Ineffective.

Crayon, good for scrawling your last will and testament on the pavement.

Belizean armed with angle iron, Good.

RAF Flight Lieutenant with 12 gauge, Awesome.

The young RAF officer in question was a Flying Officer at the time, now that I think about it, and became the best man at my first wedding much to the dismay of my PONGO colleagues. Imagine, an RAF Honour Guard for an Army Officer...

He is now a Group Captain (equivalent to what you in the Colonies call a 'Full Bird Colonel') and still with his stick pulled back and climbing fast.

Herb Parsons just popped into my head when I was writing my comment but now I remember his most famous catch phrase:

"Hunt with your son today and you won't have to hunt for him tomorrow."

How very, very true. And it doesn't have to be hunting. Time spent with your son now will save a lot of grief in the future. How many of us have responded to an urgent plea for attention from the boy with, 'C'mon, kid, I've only just got back, give me a break', instead of dragging our tired and wounded carcasses out into the bush for at least a walk?

Girls are important too, by the way. But I am not very good at dressing dolls and drinking imaginary tea with teddy bears.

A Hippo on the Lawn

I want to thank Tom very much for his very entertaining response.Visit him at: Hippo on the Lawn

Albert A Rasch
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles


Anonymous said...

Fascinating post; I have never encountered this particular snake. Thank goodness. Plant and Garden Blog

Albert A Rasch said...


Peter Capstick referred to the Fer de Lance in one of his panther hunting stories. Thankfully his friend was very good at shooting from the hip!

Best regards,

Jack Landers said...

My daughter like hunting even more than my son does. She's also a better shot (although she's also 6 years old to his 3 and he may catch up yet). Point is that daughters make very good hunters.