In Texas: A Local Spring Rite

Rancher Bill Haas turns up the heat against the chilly morning as he waits, first in line, for the Nolan County Coliseum in Sweetwater, Texas, to open at 8 a.m. In the back of his brown-and-tan Ford pickup are 1,042 lbs. of live rattlesnakes. Behind him sit ten more trucks, also filled with live rattlesnakes. The snakes, venomous Western diamondbacks, are reluctant participants in what has become a rite of spring in rural Texas: the rattlesnake roundup.

Haas, 59, raises cattle and sheep on a spread north of Sweetwater (pop. 12,242), and has hunted snakes since he was a boy. "They're...

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