Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Feisty Gator Tries to Sink Boat of Its Hunters

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Feisty Gator Tries to Sink Boat of Its Hunters

Article excerpt


DARIEN - Nobody ever said an alligator's teeth are harder than metal.

Maybe someone should.

Fishing and alligator hunting guide Wendell Harper knows.

Back in late September, Harper took an Atlanta man, Rex Baker, on an overnight excursion to hunt an alligator. A big game hunter, Baker had himself one of the 700 tags the state issued in a lottery this year for its annual alligator hunt. Stalking a gator is hard enough. Stalking a hunting permit, while not as risky, is harder.

"It takes you at least three to four years to pull a tag,'' Harper said.

With his tag in hand, Baker set out with Harper about 10 p.m. Sept. 20 from Two Way Fish Camp on the Altamaha River. They had pushed off earlier that night but storms chased them back to the dock twice.

"We saw 18 to 20 gators,'' Harper said. "Maybe one or two of them were big enough.''

After they turned into the Hampton River, Harper spotted one he had seen before.

"It was the 26th gator I had seen that night,'' he said.

Just as he had before, the alligator took off when Harper got his aluminum boat close.

"Every time the light would hit him, he'd throw water everywhere and swim away,'' Harper said.

So they moved on to other places up the river, but saw that same alligator on the way out.

"Mr. Rex said, 'Wendell, we aren't going to get anywhere near that gator,'" Harper said.

But then Harper started calling the alligator, and every time he did, they'd gain a few feet on it.

"The next thing I know, we're eight to 10 feet from him, and him blowed up on top of the water,'' Harper said.

Figuring it was their best shot, he told Baker to shoot it, and he did, with a long, barbed arrow. The alligator rocketed into the dark marsh, snatching out the line attached to the arrow. Harper knew he'd come out of the marsh to get back to deep water, and when he did, they hauled on the line until they got him alongside the boat.

"He was just slapping jaws, rolling and turning,'' Harper said.

Harper got a snare around his neck, which predictably made the alligator even madder. …

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