New Gator Hunters Take 11-5 From Eufaula

Be careful! A .45 hollow point bounced off the top of this gator's head!

Brad Gill | August 30, 2018

Don Oates and Bruce Rucker, both of Lumpkin, made their first gator season a very difficult one to top. They killed an 11-foot, 5-inch beast from Lake Eufaula on Aug. 24.

Their hunt started about 5 p.m. in the Florence Marina area where they spotted a gator 100 yards off the Georgia bank.

“He went under quickly, and we didn’t realize how big he truly was,” said Don. “Bruce immediately cut the motor, and I began operating the trolling motor.  Bruce grabbed the surf rod I had set up with 100-lb. braid and a 10/0 weighted treble hook. I grabbed the large snatch hook. That’s when he resurfaced about 20 yards from the boat and immediately disappeared.  We then realized we had found a big gator.”

When the beast resurfaced, he was heading up the Chattahoochee River.  As they got closer Bruce, made a couple of casts and was able to successfully hook it.

“As soon as the gator felt the hook, he went under and took off,” said Don. “He pulled the 17 1/2-foot bass boat with around 600 pounds of men and equipment like it was nothing. We were pulled 200 yards up the river, and he did a 180 and pulled us back down the river almost to the old trestle bridge. He then planted himself on the bottom. I threw out the snatch hook. On the third throw, I hooked what I thought was a log because I pulled for 20 minutes before I felt it give. I hollered to Bruce to grab the pistol and get ready.”

Don slowly worked the big lizard to the surface, hoping it wouldn’t run again.

“As soon as that big ol’ head came up, Bruce fired one round from the pistol,” said Don. “This absolutely infuriated the gator. I couldn’t believe it! The .45 hollow point hit about an inch high and bounced off. A follow-up shot luckily ended his fight to go back under the water.”

The gator hunters secured the jaws and attempted to pull it in the boat.

“We tried and tried, but we were worn out, exhausted and out of ideas,” said Don. “Just as we started plans to secure him to the side of the boat and limp back, three guys bowfishing came to our aid. We all grabbed the gator. At that point, we started taking on water in the stern and had to put one man on the opposite side to keep the boat from flooding. Once back at the dock, we were able to really get a good look. He was old, covered in scars and had broken and missing teeth. Not bad for our first hunt!”

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