The Norman Transcript

March 22, 2013

Round up

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — In Texas, round ups are commonplace. Of course you know the word can mean capture, gather together, collect, arrest, bring together or amass.

The most common type of round up in the great state of Texas is usually associated with cattle. Those lumbering ruminants wander hither and yon. The “hither and yon” part depends upon how much land you own and how far the cattle wandered.

Periodically, the cattle must be rounded up to be treated for various health issues, such as shots and clipping of private parts. Or, they are rounded up, loaded on a truck and taken to market and sold. Some will face the cattle’s version of the guillotine and may end up on your outdoor grill, sizzling away and smelling very much like burnt meat.

Parents who pop out countless children are constantly rounding up their offspring because the little rug rats do tend to wander off, get into mischief and/or get hurt. They just seem to have a knack for all of the foregoing, which is why parents turn gray.

In the metropolis of Sweetwater, Texas, they just celebrated the 55th year of the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Round-up. An estimated 30,000 curiously insane folks, from US, Canada, Israel, England, China, Australia, Germany, Texas and heaven knows where else, attended the three-day fun. According to Texas Game Warden George Pasley, “Even though this is a very dangerous animal, (the event is run in) a very safe and professional manner and the snakes are handled (with care).”

Now, the main fun is focused on the capture of as many of the slithering noisemakers as possible. Once caught, they are weighed, milked, killed and cooked. Some even end up as hatbands, boots and baby rattles.

The weighing/measuring part is to determine the winner of the most pounds of rattlesnake, as well as the longest one, caught. In case you wish to compete next year, there were 2,160 pounds caught this year and the longest snake was 78 inches or for those hailing from Mars that’s 6 1/2 feet. It would make a nice designer belt for someone with the proper girth.

Separating the rattlesnake from its venom is called milking. Unlike milking goats and bovine, it is dangerous and the snake not only looks like its throwing up, it looks exceedingly ticked off at the guy pinching its jaws open. Can you say snake breath? Of course, you would be a bit angry as well and even toss a few cookies, if someone tried to “milk” saliva from your incisors. And your breath isn’t always sweet either.

The killing part is a recommended step before you try to separate the snake from its lovely skin or if you want to make a meal of it. We are told that snake meat tastes like chicken. If that is the case, why bother eating it and all the other critters that are purported to taste like chicken? Just chow down on the chickens. They are used to it. Snakes tend to put up a fight.

According to the 2011 census, the population of Sweetwater was 10,943, which is less than the 2000 census count of 11,415. Guess not everyone likes to share bed, bath and beyond with rattlesnakes.

An interesting round up currently underway in Texas, there are signs along the highways reminding folks of the event, is the annual Texas Outstanding Warrants Round-up. This one is not nearly as much fun as rounding up rattlesnakes. Although, the folks doing the rounding up are probably of the opinion that rattlesnakes might be less dangerous than the human reptiles.

Now that you head is spinning with all the round up information, there is one other round up just around the corner. The Weed Killer Roundup, which is our annual and never-ending attempt to corral weeds with a product coincidentally known as “Roundup”.

Are you ready? Saddle up!

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and author. Check out her novel “The Dionysus Connection” on Amazon or ask your bookstore to order it for you. Visit her website,

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.