By Trey Rusk
I read an article about a Great Grandmother hunting and killing a 12' gator near Livingston, Texas. It turns out that she was also the Mayor of Livingston and believed the huge gator had killed her miniature pony. It was a good article.
When I was a much younger deputy sheriff in Matagorda County another deputy asked me if I was interested in checking his gator trap near the town of Matagorda. Before long several of us good old boys loaded up a case of beer and several weapons in my old Land Rover and headed South from Bay City. My Land Rover had a top speed of maybe 50 MPH and while driving, I had a chance to give the outing a second thought.
Those that know me now are familiar with my personal rule. I don't venture out where I'm not the top of the food chain.
Hunting gators is different. There really is no hunt in the traditional sense. You hang a chunk of bloody meat above the water on a big hook. The higher you hang it the bigger the gator. You secure the meat on a chain which is anchored in the ground usually to a mobile home tie down stake.
When we arrived I had to park in the salt grass about a quarter of a mile from the gator trap because of swampy hidden bogs that could possibly sink the Land Rover. As we walked, the salt grass and cat tails got to be about chest high. I asked my friend how he knew where we were going. He said I'm following a gator drag to the water. Keep a close look out for water moccasins and hogs!
I once stepped on a snake during a dove hunt. In those days I was quick. I'll bet I covered 50 yards in 3 seconds carrying an over and under 12 gauge!
On this day, I was carrying a Smith and Wesson Model 66 .357 and I made sure I wasn't in the lead or bringing up the rear. As we walked my friend stopped and held up his hand. "Shhh, Ya'll hear it?" My sensory perception was at an all time high and I heard all kinds of noises that I was unfamiliar with. None of them sounded friendly. Pretty soon we were at the edge of a swamp and there it was. About an 7' gator thrashing around in the water. My friend shot it in the head with a .22 and we pulled it in. He rebaited the hook with a bloody cow's heart that he took from a sack tied to his waist.
We had to carry that dead gator back through the Wild Kingdom and thought I could hear Marlin Perkins narrating. It was heavy. It smelled and I think it drained it's bladder on me during the trek back.
I posted a picture of us just before we walked to the swamp. Two of those fellas in the picture have passed away. I miss one of them.
I wouldn't do it again but I wouldn't trade the memory of the great gator expedition for anything.
That's the way I see it.