Last spring, I was feeding the fish from my dock and saw a small gator come up and begin eating the floating fish food. I started grunting like a baby gator to see if another one would pop up. It did. Scared the crap out of me when I turned around and there he was. I don’t have a witness but I am sure I made it off this fifty-foot dock in about 4 steps. After catching my breath and calming down, rather than shoot the creature, I called the erstwhile gator trapper extraordinaire, “Gator” Preston. They say Gator can trap or snare anything from a bullfrog to a buffalo so I figured he was the man for the job.
Gator brought a walk in trap, placed it in the water and set it up with a chicken as bait. That night he caught Prissy, the early warning yard beagle. She was wagging her tail as he opened the trap to release her. I scolded her good as Gator rebaited the trap. He caught Prissy again and asked if I could please put her in the dog pen.
Ready once again, with Prissy safely incarcerated, Gator awaited the morning light and found the bait gone and the trap sprung. This went on for a week before he figured out the trap was too small; when the trap door fell, it caught the gator halfway it’s body and it was able to back out; time to rethink.
Gator brought a snare and set it up. I told him I didn’t think it would hold but he assured me it would. I asked how he intended to get the gator out with it rolling and thrashing and he said, “No problem. I’ll handle it”.
Next morning the tree to which the snare had been attached was gone and the whole area torn up. “I told you it was a big’un”, I said.
Gator, upon seeing the damage, became even more determined to get a look at the creature. He brought a shark reel with a treble hook attached and hooked on a piece of chicken. His first cast went straight up and wrapped tight over a cypress limb about 20 feet high. By the time Gator retrieved his rig it was dark so he set the treble hooks and tied them to a tree. Next morning the bait was gone and the hooks were straightened.
Gator, now completely frustrated, said, “Tomorrow I am coming back, draw him in close, pounce upon him and wrestle him out.”
Gator is an educated man, you see, and destined to live a short, though exciting, life. I am not an educated man, but I have enough sense to know that anything that weighs 800 pounds, eats meat and has a mouthful of teeth, ain’t to be trifled with.
All this feeding of wild alligators turned them into welfare recipients overnight. They now expect a nice chicken dinner each evening and stay close to the bait area all day. It is downright dangerous for a man or dog to go near the water in my back yard. I let Fox, the chocolate Lab, out to do his ‘business’ this morning and straight to the baited area he went. I heard him barking and saw him on the dock looking straight into a gator’s eyes. I managed to get him away just in time. If I let anything happen to him I would have to pack up and move because he is higher up the ladder than I am around my house.
Feeding time arrived and Gator showed up. I was waiting with a movie camera and a .357 magnum pistol.
“What’s that for,” Gator asked.
I replied, “The movie camera is to capture the action and clear me of any wrong doing because when that mad gator gets ahold of you and starts to take you down, I am going to do the Christian thing and shoot you to keep you from suffering.”
Unfortunately for YouTube, the big one did not show up but Gator did, at long last, manage to catch one too small to be newsworthy.
Gator Preston’s trapping skills, not to mention common sense, are becoming suspect in my mind.
Pyne Tarr Proverbs: “Sometimes the best deal you will ever make is the one you turn down.”