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"OK, we need a new plan," said Spider.
"And a new pair of shoes," I added, looking down at my big toe, which was now plainly visible through hole in my shoe.
"You hold his head down with stick, and I'll reach out and grab lure," Spider said.
It was an insane plan, but it was still a step in right direction, I thought. At least, there wouldn't be any parts of my anatomy at risk this time. I took stick and pinned turtle's head to ground while Spider got down on his belly and crept slowly toward angry, struggling turtle.
It was then I learned even more lessons about snapping turtles. First, their front feet can be used a lot like a pair of hands, and second, snapping turtles are much stronger than you might think.
The turtle reached up and quickly pushed stick away and quickly raised his head—now leaving him face-to-face with a very surprised Spider McGee.
The big guy screamed, which was probably best thing to do at time, since it caused startled turtle to reach up with a front foot, pop lure from its mouth, and then it whirl around and head back toward river.
While all that was going on, lure leapt through air and finally came to rest—firmly lodged in Spider's left ear. He danced around in pain, but we finally managed to pin him down and cut line from lure. Then we packed up and loaded him into car.
All way home, Charlie and I would occasionally look back at poor Spider, sitting like a sad puppy in back seat and wearing what looked like a giant hand-carved, bug-eyed earring. Then we’d look at each other—and laugh.
All that happened more than 30 years ago, and although Spider didn't know it at time, he was a trendsetter. He was first guy I ever knew to wear an earring, even if he'd had to get his ear pierced by a snapping turtle to do it.
I'm pretty sure they have easier ways of doing that nowadays.
© 2004. Gary E. Anderson. All rights reserved.
Gary Anderson is a freelance writer, editor, ghostwriter, and manuscript analyst, living on a small Iowa farm. He’s published more than 500 articles and four books. He’s also ghosted a dozen books, edited more than 30 full-length manuscripts, produced seven newsletters, and has done more than 800 manuscript reviews for various publishers around the nation. If you need writing or editing help, visit Gary’s website at www.abciowa.com.