We saw the set was ‘knocked down’. My guide paddled up to the floating bog where the white cord was tightly stretched across the torn vegetation… The 10’ set pole was missing and the small willow tree used as the anchor was half torn out.

As Two Scoops, my guide, pulled up the line he had no resistance. As the line finally tightened there was no movement. The gator must have slipped off. As Scoops tugged what he thought might be roots up to the surface he saw through the platinum muddy water a huge gator. Scoops started yelling, ‘We need a bigger boat’!!!

Rhonda and I had not seen the gator, but we felt the tiny boat shake as it was thrashed below. We felt the gators back plates vibrate the boat bottom as the gator strove to swim back under the bog. There was no stopping the behemoth from reclaiming the strong white cord.

Rhonda and I were actually quite calm as Two Scoops stretched out both arms telling us the gator’s body was “this big”!!!

We actually were a little short in the boat department. We accessed this back from the road pond by dragging a 7’ plastic boat through the woods. Its bottom was reinforced by three small metal tubes which you had to step upon so your feet would not go through the bottom of the boat.

The sane part of my brain said let’s get Rhonda, my wife to shore. Scoop’s called Drake Dawson, our outfitter, to come and assist with this gator. Part of that idea was nuts as Drake is 2 ½ times bigger than Rhonda. The boat would float lower. Scoops and I figured if the boat tipped we could swim faster than Drake.

bolts.  I needed to be accurate.

Scoops, Drake, and I headed back out to the set. We had cut a fresh stout willow pole to help get leverage trying to pull that hulk of a gator close enough for a shot and also help not get capsized.

This time we got his head to the surface. Everyone agreed with Scoops, ‘the boat was too small’!!! The gator twisted and spun away with the rope pulling the boat just like in a scene from ‘Jaws’. Then the line went slack. Seconds later Drake screamed out, ‘lower the center of gravity!!! We all dropped in the boat as the gator hit us like a torpedo that had done that before. The fact he stopped after impact and retreated under the floating bog kept us afloat. It was two hours of back and forth before I sank my third arrow in his brain.

He was so huge the three of us could not get him up on the bank. Drake called the excavator he had leased the hunt rights for this area along the Mississippi River. We used a close by earth mover and 200’ of rope to get the gator to a dirt road. After pictures the gorilla was loaded in the truck and back to camp.

I had taken a once in a lifetime gator over 13 feet and weighed 960#. In fact, all four trophy hunters in camp had taken gators over 10’ and one was over 11’.

The next day, Rhonda and I were at camp along the bayou having a lunch of soft shell crabs and sautéed gator. A call came in that Mark, another guide was bringing in a client, Rocky, with a monster from the swamps by Lac Des Allemands. We all went to the dock waiting the arriving hunters in their 16’ aluminum mud boat (the usual type boat for hunting gators). That gator amazingly measured the same as mine. Two gators were taken two days apart and miles from each other. The camp was having great success. Drake says they take great trophies every year and SCI records do show they own ‘Louisiana gator hunting’.

According to Drake late summer early fall is best for targeting male gators. The breeding season is over and summer finds the females being the aggressors guarding their mounded up nest with their very life. Male gators (not so different than all males species) really don’t want to deal with the bad tempered mothers and head for open water and the feeding grounds. The big monsters are packing on the groceries for the coming winter and cooler weather. He says 90% of the take is males.

The American Alligator is only native to the Southeastern United States, where it inhabits wetlands that frequently overlap with human populated areas.

Discovery Channel’s Animal Face Off team estimates a fully grown gator’s bite force at 3000lbf. Once an alligator reaches adulthood, any animal living in the water or coming to water is potential prey. Adult gators will eat razorbacks, deer, domestic animals including cattle and sheep, and are often known to kill and eat smaller gators. A few of the gators I took showed evidence of close encounters with another gator.

Our Louisiana adventure was much more than getting great gators. Rhonda and I enjoyed the true Cajon experience and excellent authentic food, including jambalaya, gumbo, blue crabs, fried soft shell crabs, catfish, shrimp, roasted wild razorback, sautéed gator. Genève Breaux and Drake were our excellent cooks. Accommodations provided by Tommy and Genève Breaux were comfortable swamp cabins located right on the bayou, in the swamp.

Good times were had by all at the local Cajon bar, Fred’s, and also at our bayou camp with music and song by String Bean, a local favorite musician. Cajon’s love to have a good time and are wonderful story tellers. You had to listen close sometimes to understand all the words but they probably had to do the same with our Midwestern accents.

Final note: The hunt is like trapping and big game fishing combined. You need the guides and the equipment. The outfit knows the area. Setting bait and hooks matches what our pioneers did years ago. The final shot gets done as fast as possible. It is a bit like marlin fishing. Big game.

For information contact:

Drake Q Dawson

573.491.3373

Email   safariunlimited@juno.com

www.tonanzios.com 

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Your San Diego Chapter of Safari Club International is looking for stories and photos of your hunting and fishing adventures! Your story and/or photos can be featured on our blog or Facebook page. 

You must live close to the San Diego county area to be featured. Please submit a story about your hunting or fishing adventure along with a couple of photos. Please be sure to include the who, what, where, when, why and how of your story!

Please submit your information to: lauren@reelcamogirl.com