Smith & Wesson Model 19, Spring 1976, St John's County, FL
There was a small pond circled by thin pines that screened us from passing traffic on I-95. Cpt Williams was leaning on the hood of his unmarked car when we pulled up on the rutted clay road. Another plain clothes deputy, a sergeant, sat in the car with his door open and listened to the radio for Williams.
No one but Williams and the county sheriff knew our names. Two recent graduates of the Police Standards course with long hair and who were, for the most part, unknown in the county. We'd hang out in bars, light up a joint under our table and wait to get thrown out.
We'd show up the next night and the bouncer who threw us out would call us crazy fucking bastards, apologize, 'cause he was just doing his job, and buy us a couple beers. We'd tell the bouncer we had some stuff to sell -- most of it stolen. Conversation would ensue and I learned at an early age that most criminals are amazingly stupid.
The sergeant stayed in the car while my partner and I reported to Williams. The three of us stood a couple feet from the cars. My partner was telling Williams we needed some more pot when I pushed my hands in my pockets and sheepishly looked out at the pond.
I saw what looked like a tree branch -- Except it was moving -- At us -- Fast. I pointed at it and Williams, being from the area, shouted, "Water Moccasin!" I drew the Model 19 from a rough suede holster clipped to the inside of the back of my jeans, aimed and fired once. The snake disappeared... along with my hearing.
I heard Williams yell, "HO-LY SHIT!" over the ringing in my ears. "What the hell load you got in that thing?" Looking out at the pond for the snake, I turn to Williams, "158 grain, semi jacketed, 357 hollow point," and add, "Did I hit it?" Williams slaps me on the back, "You didn't hit it but you probably gave it a fucking heart attack."
Lesson learned: Snake shot. First two rounds in every deputy's wheel gun -- back in the day.