Sunday mornings are usually a time to reset. Maybe become closer with God; maybe enjoy a good cup of coffee. Any way you slice it, Sunday mornings are rarely described as “full of adventure” or “heart-stopping.” But for 9-year-old Jacob Mutz of La Vernia and his granny, Nancy Mutz of San Antonio, one particular Sunday morning could be described exactly in such a way.
While out at his Granny and Paw-Paw’s ranch in McMullen County, Jacob started his Sunday morning like any other. He went to church with his grandparents and ate a hearty breakfast. Although happy to be with his grandparents, he was a little disappointed that his hunting that weekend had not turned out like he’d hoped. The closest they came to even seeing some wildlife were some snake tracks -- “drag marks” -- they saw on the ground. While he and his Paw-Paw discussed these drag marks over breakfast, Granny listened intently, knowing that Jacob was making great hunting memories with his grandpa, even if the hunting trips were otherwise uneventful. She wished that she could be a part of such memories.
After breakfast, Jacob hopped on the golf cart with his Granny to take a ride around the ranch, with hopes to see some wildlife, check fence lines for broken barbed wire, and overall enjoy the sights and sounds of the ranch before they headed home.
Right before they left, he made sure to grab his 20-gauge shotgun and place it in the back of the golf cart for safety’s sake. There had been too many close calls with javelinas, wild hogs, and poisonous snakes on the ranch, and he and Granny didn’t want to be in harm’s way without some sort of protection.
The day was beautiful -- blue skies, warm, with a slight breeze. Granny and Jacob rode around the place, stopping here and there to look through the binoculars for possible wildlife.
Granny’s phone rang, and she began a conversation with Jacob’s Aunt Holly. She talked to Holly and Jacob intermittently. Preoccupied and frantic, Granny asked Jacob, “Where is my phone?”
Jacob looked at her, puzzled. He then laughed, “Granny, you’re using it!”
Granny, a bit embarrassed, laughed heartily. Holly, hearing all of this, laughed too.
Like a flash, a deer jumped out in front of the golf cart, startling the pair. Jacob, still amazed that his Granny couldn’t find the phone that she was holding, missed seeing it. Disappointed, he kept riding along while Granny continued to drive and talk on the phone.
She looked forward as she gabbed on, noticing something in the distance. “Holly, I’ll have to call you back.”
They drove on, and the figures in the distance became clear. Frighteningly clear.
“Jacob,” she asked quietly, “What is that in the middle of the road?” She had an idea of what the figures were, but hoped she was wrong. Jacob pulled out the binoculars to take a look.
“It’s two rattlesnakes,” he said, his eyes wide.
The rattlesnakes seemed to be standing up and dancing -- a mating dance. Deep within the brush of the ranch, Granny knew that they couldn’t turn the golf cart around. The narrow road they were on was surrounded by mesquite trees, cactus, and high grass -- all foliage that would possibly leave them stranded and at the mercy of not only the snakes, but also other wildlife. She also knew that they couldn’t continue forward without running right into the snakes, snakes that were almost eye-level with them. Knowing they had to continue on the road, Granny immediately called Paw-Paw. Realizing they were left with no other choice, he advised them to use the gun.
Granny, who knew she had no business handling a gun (honestly, she didn’t know where her phone was as she was using it), knew that the job would be left up to Jacob, and was unsure of her grandson’s abilities. She knew he had done well in the 4-H Shooting Sport competitions and had undergone extensive training, which included many mandatory detailed education sessions, in gun safety.
“Jacob, do you think you can kill them?” Granny asked.
“Yes, but we need to get closer,” he said.
Granny, unable to handle the stress, began getting worked up.
“Calm down, Granny,” Jacob reassured her. “It’ll be okay.”
She did as her grandson instructed and stopped the golf cart when he felt he was close enough. Carefully, Jacob picked up his gun and skillfully raised it to the shooting position. His breath seemed to stop as he focused on the preoccupied pair and pulled the trigger. Neither snake slithered away, and while one lay lifeless, one assumed the striking position. Jacob zeroed in on that snake and shot again without flinching.
Granny, watching her grandson intently, calmed down, realizing that he was very collected as he handled the gun. She realized that his experience in 4-H shooting competitions and hunting trips with his dad and Paw-Paw had made him quite the marksman.
In the distance, the two snakes, each close to 6 feet in length, lay on the ground, unmoving.
Jacob would surely never forget such a great event. Little did he know that one of his best memories would happen with his Granny!