Hunter’s Journal: Lake Eufaula Gators
By Casey Grover
Like every year, we all wait on the email stating whether we were successful or not with being selected for an alligator tag for Georgia. In this case, numerous people were disappointed they weren’t selected, but two individuals were on the opposite end of the spectrum: Kyle Daniel and Sean Dudish.
On July 16, 2019, they both received an email stating they were selected for Zone 1A, Lake Eufaula.
Once the selections were made, the plans were quickly put into place. Kyle booked a cabin on the lake, where we knew a good gator had been hanging out the previous three years. Both Charles Quirk and Montana Bahry know the lake well. Generally, they know someone with a tag, so they hunt or assist virtually every year. This is how we knew this large gator has been in this area for the past three years. Charles has hunted this particular gator hard every year, and the beast consistently eluded him. However, Charles had scouted this area three different times recently and had not seen anything longer than 4 feet.
Alligator season opened at sunset on Friday, Aug. 16. It was a quick ride to the boat ramp, and we sat and glassed for half an hour before you could legally hunt. It didn’t take long to spot a trophy-sized alligator.
Montana, Sean and Daniel Morris proceeded down the lake to scout some other creeks off the lake, while Charles, Kyle and myself went after the big gator we spotted.
Once sunset hit, the game was on. It started out as a cat-and-mouse game. Just when we thought we could get 5 feet closer, the big gator would go under. Finally, he made the mistake of staying up a little longer, and we hooked up!
Everyone started scrambling, chasing him down with the trolling motor, trying to get another hook in him, but then the worst thing happened. Pop!
The hook pulled out. We knew this gator was smart. He’d been hooked a number of times in the past. We knew we had to be on our A game if we were going to successfully take this gator.
Shortly after, he reemerged about 100 yards off. At this time, a boat of Georgia DNR officers entered the creek and checked our credentials.
Once everything checked out, it was time to locate the gator again. This time we located him on the edge of a grass flat. We proceeded to approach him slowly with minimal light. As we got close, he submerged. To our surprise, he was lying under the boat. The harpoon was still in the rod box, so we made an attempt to hook him. We connected again, but he again broke off.
Finally, about 11:30 p.m., we all watched the same shooting star.
Charles said, “You better make a wish.”
Literally, 30 seconds later the gator appeared out of nowhere. Charles got the initial hook in the gator. The gator laid on the bottom, not moving. Charles passed the pole to Kyle and got the hand line.
“Be ready, he’s not going to like this,” said Charles.
Charles set the hook, and the gator exploded. Off we went, chasing him again, but this time with two good hooks in the gator. The harpoon was out and ready. The gator launched itself out of the water at the edge of the boat, and Casey was able to harpoon him in the jowl. At that point, our confidence was through the roof. Kyle then prepped the .45-caliber bang stick.
As the gator came out of the water at the edge of the boat, he slowly submerged, and Kyle was able to dispatch the gator. The hooting and hollering commenced. The saga is over.
We contacted our other party and informed them of the harvest. Quickly, they headed our way. After the high-fives and celebration, the hunt was on, again.
Quickly, another gator was spotted in the channel. After hours of cat and mouse, Daniel Morris hooked the alligator. Like before, they got a second hook in the gator. Now, for the hand line. They set the hook, and the gator broke 550-lb. paracord. After retying, another hook was deployed. Now, for the harpoon. This, too, hit the mark. From a distance, we heard the undeniable sound of a gun shot. We were out of tags for 2019.
The celebration and photos continued on the shore. Before we knew it, the sun was rising. We loaded the gators into Charles’ Prodigy, and off to the processor we went. After reliving the hunt with the processor, we headed to the Waffle House for a celebratory breakfast.
This was a hunt that won’t soon be forgotten. The fact we killed 12 1/2- and 11 1/2-foot gators within 300 yards of one another that we had no idea still existed was a story for itself. The fact we ended such a story is gratifying.
Now, it’s time to find the next gator to start the next chapter for the Georgia gator hunts at Zone 1A.
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