Living on a large, semi- swampy lake in Florida, you get used to seeing alligators everywhere. Rarely does a day go by that my brother-in-law can't walk out on his boat dock and see eight or ten gators basking in the sun, within rock throwing distance of his pier.
Tempted by the television shows that portray rugged swamp people scouring the bayous and lakes for a chance to catch and kill a monster gator, he just had to have a big one.
After talking to a friend who had a son whose job was being a gator guide, my brother-in-law hired him for a couple of days. For what he was paying the guide, he fully expected to get one of those walking suitcases the first day. Sadly it took two days.
The first morning of the big hunt was sunny and beautiful. My sister-in-law came along to hold the dog, a toy dachund. Accustomed to seeing eyes and snouts of numerous gators, the dog was disappointed to see that there was not an alligator to be seen. They decided to go down the lake where they were sure to see some alligators. Nothing!
After searching all morning, and chasing a few small ones, they saw the telltale trail of bubbles in the water, made by an alligator walking on the bottom of the lake. They threw a large treble hook, weighted with a three ounce hunk of lead so it would sink fast. The hook was attached to a quarter inch nylon rope.
After the third cast, they hooked him in one of his tough claws. Immediately, the surface of the water erupted with 350 pounds of mad alligator trying its best to shed the hook in its right, rear claw, and kill those responsible for those responsible for such an indignity.
Keeping the line as tight as they could, the men struggled to bring the gator to the side of the boat. They fought to keep him from rolling until they managed to get a larger hook in his jaw that was attached to an even larger rope. Then the guide pulled out a bang stick. This is a weapon on a stick, capable of killing large game with one shot. That's all it holds, one shot.
A bang stick shoots 12 gauge, 16, gauge, 20 gauge or 410 gauge shells. They also shoot .22 calibers on up to .45 caliber. When jabbed into the head of an alligator, crocodile or shark, it will kill if you hit the critter in the right place. They missed and had to shoot again. This time they got it right!
Hauling a 350 pound alligator into a boat is not an easy task. After shooting the alligator twice, they maneuvered the gator's head until it was pointing toward the sky and wrapped its head with duct tape. They thought it was dead, but the gator's eyes were still blinking so the guide so the guide stuck his hunting knife into its head and cut the spinal cord. After a moment, no more blinking eyes.
After getting him, or her, on board they rushed him to the processing plant so the meat wouldn't spoil. The processors bought the animal for nine dollars a foot. He then bought back the gator meat. They gave him the head and claws.
My brother-in-law kept the head because he wanted to strip the head of meat and keep the bones and skull strategically placed in his back yard. So, after thoroughly salting the head, he placed it on a fire ant hill and put a wash tub over the carcass. Disturbed, the ants immediately went to work. Within two weeks the flesh had been eaten from the skull and there wasn't any meat at all left on the bones.
After the gator had baked in the hot Florida Sun for a few days, even the dog wouldn't visit the simmering pile of alligator head and fire ants. The smell was just too stomach turning. All in all it was a great hunt for everyone except the alligator!