Hunter’s Journal: Late August Gator
By Sheena Wilson
I have been hunting for many years alongside my dad. Last August, I embarked on an alligator hunt, something I have been trying to do for six years.
We started our journey on Friday morning, Aug. 17. We decided we would take our motor home, and we were planning on getting there around 3 p.m. Along the way, we had some trouble that involved breaking down. We were very concerned we would have to leave my mother and the camper on the side of the road. Luckily, we got it fixed, since we were hauling our 74 Bronco and could run and get what we needed.
So, off to Bainbridge we went, and we arrived at exactly 7 p.m., just in time to hunt. We rushed to get ready and head out onto Lake Seminole.
We were riding on an airboat to hunt this lake. It is certainly amazing to watch all the red eyes pop up out of the water as we chased them down to get a better view of their size. We didn’t have much luck the first night.
The next morning we were up at dawn and ready to start the hunt. As we headed out, the boat just died. After paddling back in, we realized there was water in the fuel tank. So, we had to fix the boat now.
We headed back out and saw some small ones, but I saw a nice 10-footer, but he was in the open water. I was unable to get a good shot with the harpoon. I got to have a lesson in airboat driving, which was much fun. So we headed in for lunch and to get some rest for the night ahead.
Around 6 p.m., we headed back out to hunt for the night. We had the same issue with water in the fuel, which meant another delay. Once we got that fixed, we rode out, going through some canals, open water and coves.
As we turned a corner, my dad saw a big gator swirl in the water, so we turned around and tried to see him again. After about 30 minutes, we headed on, and I tried for a couple ranging from 7 to 10 feet, but I missed them.
We waited on sunset and rode again, not seeing many big ones. We headed back toward the cove where we were before, and there he was.
At 10 p.m., we released the pink harpoon, and we had him hooked. As we waited for him to get tired out, we started pulling him up and got two more harpoons in him. The closer he got, the bigger he was. We never intended on hunting one this size, but how could you say no to a monster?
As we got him closer to the boat, we realized he was under pounds of hydrilla. We then saw that his tail alone was as big as my body. I am only 5-2 at 125 pounds. We started getting things ready for the struggle ahead.
As we are getting him closer, we couldn’t get him in the boat to sever the spine with a knife. So we got the bang stick ready, and this fierce guy starts biting our boat, leaving scratch marks on the boat from his teeth. The time came, and we had him dead. Realizing he is too heavy for the water depth we are in, my father sat up front and held him as we drug him the best we could.
When we got to waist-high water, our guide got in the water. All three of us did the best we could to get him into the boat. We achieved that, so we tagged him and got him tied up in case we had any bumps along the way. We then saw his full size, and he was a nice 12-foot, 3 1/2-inch alligator. It took until 2 a.m. to get back to the dock.
We headed to the processor, and there were some young boys in their 20s proud of the 8-foot gator they had just harvested, and I rolled up with my beast, and to say the least, they were very impressed.
He lost a foot of his tail in a fight, so he would have been 13-3. He also had a bite out of his side that went deep down through the tissue. This monster is rare to get these days. They say it can take up to 60 years for a gator to grow this large.
I am one lucky girl to have gotten an above-average alligator in the USA. He is a huge accomplishment, and I could never have done it without the good Lord above through all the struggles of this trip and the worry of not getting one. He blessed us with a beast that lived a full life, and it was time to end his life journey.
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