Snakes may be scarce at this year's roundup

Got snakes?The American Business Club is hoping for a good turnout of the slithery creatures in time for its annual Rattlesnake Roundup this weekend at the Howard County Fair Barns.The show, held in the east barn, will be running fro 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. It's the 48th edition of the event.AMBUCS will be purchasing rattlesnakes all day Friday and on show days until about 4 p.m. Sunday. The process is pretty simple, according to long-time club member Dub Day.“Hunters bring them in and we weigh them and put them in the holding pen,” he said.The payout this year is $9 a pound for anything longer than four-foot and $6 a pound for anything shorter. The club also awards prizes of $100, $75 and $50 for the biggest snakes and $100 for the snake with the most rattlers. To enter, however, the snakes must be donated.Organizers are anticipating a slow year this time around.“We don't have the hunters like we used to because no one is picking it up as the hunters get older,” said Day. “We usually just have two are three that bring them in anymore.”Day has been with the club and part of the roundup since 1980.“One year we had 6,500 pounds of snakes but we've had as few as 200 pounds,” he said. “This year, Sweetwater got way lower than they normally get and Brownwood was down, too, so I anticipate a down year."That won't have any impact on the shows, though, Day assured.“Oh no. We'll have plenty of snakes. We put on a good show. It's really something to see if you haven't been before,” he said.Jackie Bibby, “The Texas Snake Man,” will be providing entertainment for those in attendance. He holds several world records, including being in a bathtub with the most snakes and holding the most snakes in his mouth.On an educational level, club members will be explaining what to do and what not to do when encountering a snake, as well as giving (venom) milking demonstrations.Those attending will be able to purchase snake skins, mounted snakes and even snake meat, cooked up on the spot.Tickets will be available at the door and are $5 for adults and $3 for children age 4 to 11.An arts and crafts show will be held adjacent to the snake show and is free to the public.One other important fact for anyone considering bringing in snakes to make a little extra cash — a hunting license and a non-game permit are required. They are available at Wal-Mart.