Eric Carl Timaeus has a knack for catching rattlesnakes, says Michael Brick in The New York Times. Armed only with some hooked poles and canvas sacks, Timaeus has won nine consecutive titles for nabbing the longest rattler at the Sweetwater Jaycees Rattlesnake Roundup in West Texas. Unlike many of his competitors, he thinks that spraying gasoline into rattlers’ dens, to flush them out, is unsporting. “It’s like going out with a spotlight and shooting deer at night.” He prefers a more natural approach. “If there’s a snake in a hole and for some reason I don’t catch it,” he says, “I’ll get it next time.” Timaeus, 57, caught his first rattlesnake by hand while growing up in Northern California. He pursued his interest in the reptiles in the Boy Scouts and, later, in the Army, where he taught troops how to avoid serpents in the wild. “I’m not as book smart about the taxonomy as people who pick one critter and get their Ph.D. I was always more interested in the wild part of them—how they live, how to catch them.” Timaeus has a soft spot for snakes, refusing to capture mothers and babies. And he appreciates the species’ beauty. “Sometimes, when the sun hits them just right, they shine.”
of The Week magazine.