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Old 01-31-2014, 10:40 AM
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Default Gator Hunting

I'm down in Florida gator hunting for the first time and am blessed with some of the coldest and wettest "dry" season. I saw eyes of about 30 and got within 10 feet of a couple but they turned out to be too small to kill. I initially planned on just shooting them from distance with my rifle but Manny Puig came up and was saying how much more fun it was to get them up close. So, first night out... nothing. Manny is going to go out with me this afternoon or tonight to help increase my chances since I have to head home this weekend. Very odd to have someone offer to dive in the water and bring one to the boat by bare hand if you want.

I am totally amazed at the expanse of land down here. The guide owns or has rights to about 480'000 acres. Last night we were hunting the canals of a 68000 acre tract they recently got. Very odd to drive for half an hour down the farm trail between the fields and still not get to the end.
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Old 01-31-2014, 11:31 AM
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Good luck in getting some gators.

The "Sharkman" is a wildman.
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Old 01-31-2014, 11:53 AM
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Have fun, sounds like you are down near Lake Kissimmee or the Big O, there is lots of open land down there for sure, and lots of hogs and gators.
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Old 02-01-2014, 07:58 PM
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Yes, I've been hunting between Arcadia and Lake O. The weather was mostly horrible especially when in an airboat. By the end of yesterday we had seen a lot of little ones but the cold weather was keeping the bigger ones down.

We finally came across a 5' one and the guide said to shoot it to help change our luck and more importantly it would be no charge, going for camp meat. So, my first time ever shooting a crossbow I shot and he didn't even flinch. Perfectly severed the spine though I must say he was cold and not moving much so he might as well have been a paper target. Oddly, after about 10 minutes in the boat he started wiggling about.

Weather was so crappy that the guide company let me try for another day free. The weather was perfect and we were seeing a lot of big gators. I was flat out of time so I brought out the rifle. I had budgeted for a 6-7' gator and everything we were seeing was 10-12+ feet. The guide kept asking if I wanted this one and that one and I was not in the mood to pony up that kind of money so finally we came across one that he said would count as my 6-7' gator. I shot at 80 yards and he didn't move.



Here is what a 35 Whelen with 180 grain Barnes TTSX does to a gator. If you're aiming for a walnut sized brain hitting it is much easier when you make a softball sized hole.



Now I just have to wait 6-9 months until I get the hide back from the tannery. I'm probably just going to hang it on the wall or lay it across the pool table for a few years. Then I may make it into something; wallet, belt and maybe wifey would like a purse.
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Old 02-01-2014, 08:01 PM
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Oh, the gator is/was 8' 6 1/2" long. I can't wait to weigh up the meat and see how much I get.
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Old 02-02-2014, 10:22 AM
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The 35 Whelen pretty much removed his walnut sized brain.
The skin should make for an interesting pool table cover.
Nice job.
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Old 02-02-2014, 12:12 PM
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Whoo Hoo, that's just awesome, looks like the Whelen removed his spinal cord, could not ask for a better shot! So how is the fried gator morsels???
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Old 02-02-2014, 02:20 PM
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I have them doing the butchering and prepping the hide for tanning. My folks have a winter home in Florida and will pick up the meat and bring it up to NC on their next trip so I'll have to wait a while to give it a taste.

---

I forgot to mention that a good guide earns every penny they get! In addition to saying "we'll stay out as late as you want..." when it's in the 40's and pouring and they know there is little chance but will give it a try none the less. The gator I shot was on the other side of 40 yard wide, overgrown canal. Before I knew it the guide was in swimming and crawling over to retrieve it. As if the water moccasins and sharp grass weren't enough, a 7-8' gator about 15 feet away slid into the water when I shot. How in the world to you come up with an appropriate tip amount after that???
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