Hundreds Go Face-to-Face With Rattlesnakes on Purpose

Posted Apr 2, 2007 by Lisa Angotti

Hundreds of people in Taylor, Texas have a strange idea of fun.
This weekend, 100s of snake-handlers competed in the 35th annual National Rattlesnake Sacking Championship. Teams competed to see who could bag up the most Texas rattlesnakes the fastest without breaking any rules. First participants had to pin down the snakes and pick them up by their heads.
"I've never seen anyone die, but I've seen them get crippled up," one contestant said.
Strategy and speed is the key to success in this competition. One team set an event record by bagging rattlesnakes from their wheelchairs.
The event Web site says: The object in rattlesnake sacking is to sack 10 live rattlesnakes into a burlap sack in the least time possible. Before you ask, Yes, the snakes are not tame, still have fangs and their venom sacks, and have not been altered in any way.
The Catcher has a tool called a pinner consisting of a rod at least 24" long with a hook on the end. The catcher must first immobilize the head of the snake with the pinner. He then places the snake in the sack. The Sacker is literally left "holding the bag". His job is to hold the sack in a position to allow the Catcher to quickly toss the snakes into the bag without allowing the others to escape or bite him in the process.
The best time from two out of three rounds monitored by three judges determine the winner. The judges not only keep time and compare afterwards, but monitor any scooping, lack of pinning, and bites (which there is a five second penalty for being bit). Any intentional harm to the snakes results in immediate disqualification. Click on the picture to the left to see how rattlesnake sacking is done.
Some people have WAY too much time on their hands. Wait... who am I to talk?