It's Alive !!!

This is a memorable experience that took place back in the mid 70’s, when I was , shall we say, daring. After moving to Florida in '73, and securing a job at a local steel mill, the people I was meeting were far from your “normal” breed. Most lived in the backwoods of Hillsboro County, so they weren’t honed to a real fine point. One of the best friends I had at the time, was a fella went by the nickname of Cricket. His father being a baptist minister, was a rather nice man, although when it came to food on the table, there was nothing better than alligator. Now everyone knows that poaching gators was forbidden in the state, but Crickets dad didn’t really think of it as poaching. So I kinda got a first hand lesson on the art.

 After work one midnight shift, Cricket and I went out on the backwaters of the Hillsboro River and set some gator hooks.  They consisted of a 3 ft. piece of chain tied onto a length of rope.  At the end of the chain was a gaff hook which we put a chicken on.  (chicken for roasting by the way)  We secured the rope from a tree limb, so that the "bait" hung above the water about 2ft.  This being done, we returned to the saftey of Cricket's shed, and proceeded ta drink a few beers.

 About three days later after work, we decided to check out the line and see if it had been productive.  We took a young fella that had just started at work with us, seeing as how he really thought he was the cock of the walk.  Lewis being his given name, we set out to check the line.  Traversing the river in a 12ft. jon boat was no easy task anyway, let alone with three people.

 We came through some cypress, and low and behold, there was a gator snagged on the hook.  Not a monster by any means, but around the six foot mark.  Armed with a .22 cal. pistol, and bowie knifes, we decided ta stop for a bit and check the situation out.  Upon seeing no movement whatsoever, we proceeded to the hook, and untied the gator from his hold.  Definately dead, no two ways about it.

 Cricket and I immediately came to the same conclusion, that this critter was entirely too big to ride with us three in that little jon boat.  So Cricket, being the "country" boy that he was, said, "I'll wade beside the boat and tote the gator back to shore".  Now Lewis thought this might be his chance to show us good ole boys just what he was made of.  So he says, "let me tote him back to shore Cricket, I can handle it".  Cricket looked at me, knowing I certainly didn't have the nerve to do so, and said, "what the heck".

 These waters aren't what I'd call the "safest" place to be, so Cricket decides to wade with Lewis back to the shore, while I man the jon boat.  We were only about 30ft. or so from the bank.  Within the first several feet, an event happened that will forever be in my mind.  To those familiar with dead animals, they tend to fill up with gas, bloat so to speak.  And this gator was no different.  Lewis had the rope over his shoulder , wading through waist deep water, when some of the gas escaped.  Now gators have a low pitched "grumble" during mating season, that sounds kind of erie.  When this gas escaped and made that gator grumble, Lewis' eyes just about popped out of their sockets.  For a split second he did stop, long enough to get on top of the water and high tail it to the bank screaming, "that damn gator ain't dead, that damn gator ain't dead".  Cricket in the mean time was doin' everything he could to keep from drowning, being as he was constantly falling over from the laughter.  Myself, I just fell down in the boat and held onto my stomach.

 We finally made it to shore, where Lewis informed us that, "ya'll can have this shit, yer friggin' crazy".  Cricket looked at me, and through the laughter, says "Red, I'd give a hundred dollars ta see that again".  To this day, I swear Lewis walked on water.  Anyway, it wasn't a loss.  Cricket was one of the few, being taught by his father, that just about every part of a gator is edible.  We did invite Lewis to come and eat gator, but he says "I ain't eatin' nothin' that almost killed me".  Another good laugh there, and needless to say, Lewis never went with us again.

Excellent yarn.

Great first post! Welcome to the boards. :slight_smile:

Your story reminds me of the time my gf and I went snorkeling off Key West. We went out in one of the day trip boats to some really beautiful reefs, skimming over the gorgeous green-blue water they have down there in a catamaran sailboat. I have to say, one of the biggest attractions of such places, for me, is the color of the water. Here, in Boston, we have plenty o’ water, but the ocean is mostly grey and not very inviting.

Anyway, we get to the reef, and off we go in our fins and masks. Many, many beautiful, colorful fish, none of which I could name, although I recognized several of them as being species seen in the pet trade. Some were clearly members of the parrotfish clan, but beyond that, my knowledge of tropical saltwater fish is pretty limited. While looking around to make sure I hadn’t lost my bearings (and the boat), however, I noticed some fish I instantly recognized; barracuda! Way cool! I never actually expected to see a real, live barracuda in it’s natural environment. Being somewhat of a nature boy, aside from not being intimately familiar with tropical fish, this was a huge thrill for me! Wanting to share the moment with my sweetie, I looked around, spotted her surfacing, and got her attention. After some shouting and pointing, because we had taken our own paths through the reefs, I finally managed to convey the idea that we had a number of barracuda in the vicinity.

Now, I admit that, in the excitement of the moment, I had forgotten what a “girly-girl” she really is. But, here was a chance to encounter one of the legendary members of the animal world on it’s own turf. Who WOULDN’T welcome that opportunity? She’s an animal lover, too. It honestly never occured to me that she wouldn’t see this as a tremendous opportunity, so I was somewhat shocked when she stood right up on the water and RAN back to a boat. In hindsight, I suppose I shouldn’t have shouted the information, either. The churning and thrashing of roughly forty tourists all heading for the boat at top speed was enough to unsettle even the usually implacable barracuda.

The captain of the boat wasn’t too pleased with me, either. But, one of the crew nearly fell off the boat laughing, so I had at least one friend on the trip back to port. :slight_smile: