Thumper's Gator Hunt

Thumper

New member
Joined
Dec 15, 2000
Messages
339
Location
Aksai, Kazakhstan via Covington Louisiana
Time has long passed since I was an overall-wearing teenager floating the bayou’s of Southern Louisiana in a small 10-foot homemade skiff. I can remember each year was marked with four special seasons that mattered most! These included the hunting, fishing, shrimping and trapping seasons.

As a part of our family tradition, hunting and trapping was not just a sport, but a means to pick up some extra cash from the hides of Fox, Bobcat, Racoon, Nutra or what most folks would call swamp rats and the most valued trophy of all the alligator. Usually we would reinvest this “Hunting Money” in other outdoor equipment.

Hunting alligator was illegal until the early 70’s, when the Department of Natural Resources determined that alligators were no longer endangered in Louisiana. In fact they had been over protected to the point that it was exceeding the capacity of its habitat and so the DNR started issuing permits, which eventually generated a special season. We were fortunate to live in a place that was rich in wildlife, especially alligators. To us hunting gators was more than a sport, but part of our way of life. In a sense, it was like a cross between fishing and hunting. Also the closest to hunting dangerous game most boy's from the bayou had ever or would ever encounter. There were several different ways to hunt gators. My favorite was to float down the bayou on low tide and try to sneak up close enough to get that one perfect, all killing between the eye’s shot. Only problem with this was, if the gator rolled in the water you were left with only two choices. Prodding the bottom to locate him (as gators do sink) and try to get a drag rope on him to finish the job, or have confidence in your shot, along with a bit of foolishness and jump in after him. I never took the second route, but I have seen others do it trus! Trust me, I rather stay in the boat!





The second and usally most successful method used a bit of fishing skills. We would motor up the bayou at night to see where the gators were feeding and return the next day to locate what we called the gator’s hole. A gator hole is a deeper section of water in the bayou that allowed the gator protection in high or low water tide conditions, usually they will have underwater dens in theses areas. We would find a large tree that branched out over the gator hole where we would tie a chain. We would then attach the chain to a steel cable and run a smaller cable as a leader with a baited hook that was set 12 inches above the water. This was to prevent turtles and small gators from stealing the bait and help set the hook when the gator came up for the depths to lunge for his meal.




The real excitement using this method comes the next day. That is when we would check the lines. I can only describe the feeling as excitement mixed with fear, when you found a line that had been hit. You knew you had a gator on the line, but the question that remained in your mind, would it be a usual 5 to 6 footer, or would it be the monster that later was nicknamed “The Geautreau gator”




This nickname was given when Mr.Jack Geautreau had a 23 inch wide chunk bitten clean off the side of his fiberglass skiff. This happened while he trying to pull what he described as "da biggest got darn gator I eber seez long side da boat, so could finish dat thing off". Anyone knowing this 6'3" 245 pound cajun, would have never doubted his word. Not for his size, but he was just not the type of man to exaggerate and was one of the best woodsmen in the entire Parash. As he told it, "dat gator was just hooked in da lipz and whens I getz its to the top of da wadder, it just stardded rolling and snapping". He further continued saying, "not only did dat ting gets away, da bastard bit a chunk outta da gunnel." It was weird, because after that Mr. Jack became vindictive towards that specifc gator, like Captain Ahab had for Moby ****!


This quest of his continued over the next two seasons, until one day Mr. Jack did not return to Bayou Blue boat ramp. This remained a mystery for almost 3 years and probably would still remain so till this day. But, the rumors and ideas of what may of happened were confirmed. Some local hunters found the busted remains of Mr. Jack’s boat in the marsh grass of Back Bayou. The police investigated the scene and found the skiff, or rather what was left of it, a rusted 44 magnum pistol with one empty round in the cylinder. The conclusion that was derived from the investigation confirmed what we all figured may have happened. It listed several large cracks in the inner hull made by what the investigators listed as “a large solid object, possibly the tail of an alligator” Anyone ever having a semi conscience gator in the boat knows exactly what damage even a small 4 footer can do.

My gator hunting ended when I moved away to join the military. But everytime I fish the Savannah River thoses same old feelings stir. To be honest, I have had the thought of bagging a gator cross my mind more than once. But as it is protected in Georgia, my thoughts pass and the only ocassional gator meat I eat now is when I visit the in-laws in Florida.





About three years ago a tragic misfortune put me back on the trail of an unexpected gator hunt of sorts. This was not planned nor would I have wished it have occurred, but sometimes hunts turn up when least expected. Unknown to me, beavers had dammed up both creeks that border my property and lead to the Savannah River. An unexpected amount of rain 17 inches fell in a 24-hour period and caused my entire yard to become a part of the swamp. I was trying my best to get the furniture elevated and figured it was rather futile as the water was entering the house. I figured I would load some of my most treasured objects and leave the rest for the insurance. I had moved the vehicals to higher ground up the drive and returned to remove my hounds from the kennels. I could hear my hounds going crazy in the kennel that was just turned into a swimming pool, but assumed that the commotion was from the rising waters. Man was I surprised when I waded around the house to see what had these hounds in such an uproar. .


Standing in waist deep swamp water, where my back deck was supposed to be located, I could see three gators all over 9 feet, swimming too close to the pen for my comfort. I returned to my truck and called the Sherrifs Department, who in turn refered me to the Department of Natural Resources, who in turn put me in contact with the county animal, control. I began to tell him about the situation and he only replied "Sorry, I have already removed 3 gators from the interstate,2 from the schoolyards and 4 more from other folks yard, since the start of the flood and have to get some rest.” He again replied with his apologies and said, "if they were still in my yard that afternoon call him back” I thanked him and continued by telling him that they were trying to get into my dog kennel and had been their quite some time before I noticed. With the waters still rising, it was only a matter of time before the gators got in or the dogs swam out. I told him that I had not only hunted but also caught a few in Louisana. I then asked if I could take care of the situation myself.

With a half sarcastic laugh, he replied,"By all means, you have every right to protect your personal property" If you can take care of it go right ahead. The State will pay you for live removal or dispose of the remains if proven to be an invasive animal. That was all I needed to know, I thanked him and hung up the phone.


I reached across the seat of my truck and grabbed the first gun I could get my hands on, which happened to be my 22 magnum rifle. I waded back to the spot that had now risen 6 more inches looking towards the kennel. The smaller of the three had retuned to the swamp or so I assumed, but this 12 foot lizard continued to look for a break in the wire. I slowly waded closer in attempts to make it to the oak tree in the back of my yard and almost turned back as the water was reaching chest deep and I could feel a slight current from the rising waters (All the time wondering where the other two gators ent?) I finally made it to the position where I could brace against the tree for a clear shot. I put the cross hairs of the 22 magnum between the center of his eyes and with a slight squeeze of the hair trigger, ended his attempts to make a snack of my hounds. I waited as the gator started to sink with only his tail sticking above the water. I was sure that the shot was exactly where the mark was and from seeing this same sight as a teenage boy knew he was inded dead. .


After calling a few friends to help me skin this 12 foot dinosaur. I later received a call from Amimal Control. He asked if the problem still exsisted and I said "Nope, I took care of it myself" He then asked what my intentions were for the remains. I guess it shocked him when I said well, I will keep the meat, mount the head and the hide is yours if you want it. Later that evening, he arrived the driveway and handed me permit. He had to have me fill out a permit stating that the gator was harvested under permit for removing problem wildlife.(Making me legal)





Growing up and being allowed to legally hunt gators in South Louisana was a sport that always proved to be a challenge. Very few States now offer gator hunts. It seems that this animal once considered as endangered has been protected to the point that they are increasing in larger numbers than ever. On any given day, it is not uncommon to count as high as 50 gators in just a few hours on the river. Hopefully we can urge the State Department of Natural Resources to consider opening controlled seasons to keep the population in check. .


Unfortunately, that was my last gator hunt. It took 5 months to get my river home back to normal. The Corps of engineers diverted the creeks that they now run direstly into the river and check them every 3 months for obstructions. The gators, well they still bask on the creek beds within 100 yards from my back poarch. But until a season opens they are safe to grow, until the time when a season is established or the waters rise again.

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IF YA CAN'T RUN WITH THE BIG DAWGS, KEEP YOUR ARSE ON THE PORCH

http://www.geocities.com/thumper_67.geo

[This message has been edited by Thumper (edited 01-13-2001).]
 

Muledeer4me

New member
Joined
Dec 11, 2000
Messages
1,597
Location
Idaho
Thumper,what a story.I hope you get your chance to hunt them again. I would love to see something like that,there is no way I would be in the water.Gave me goose bump's just reading it.

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Debbie
 
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