Ole One Eye.
I used to work on a ranch. The ranch consisted of 23,000+ acres. The largest and most unimproved pasture was 10,000+ acres with no cross fence.
It was rough woods, palmettos, pine trees, sugar sand ridges, ponds and creek swamps, and Live Oak Tree hammocks. It was Florida at it’s richest.
One day I was driving north bound on a right of way we had built which was one of two separate roads Billy and I had built through the north south portion of the rough woods (10,000+ acres) area.
That is another story for another time.
On this particular day I came across a small body of water on the west side of the most westerly right of way headed north. This small body of water was there because we had used a bulldozer to push the earth onto the right of way through a low-lying area.
Anyway there in the water was the biggest Gator I have ever seen. I have always said he was 12’ but he was probably bigger. He was at least 12’ perhaps 13’. Anyway, I wanted his head for my collection, which included numerous deer antlers, hog tusk, and turkey beards.
I had declared war on Gators. Here was the biggest Gator I had ever seen and the mission was to take his head back to the wagon yard.
I had declared war on Gators a couple years earlier because we had lost three cow dogs to them.
To understand what that means you have to realize that one good cow dog is equal to three good men on horseback. So to lose a dog was a terrific loss.
So here I was, the biggest gator I had ever seen, so I stopped, reached back and took the Remington 22 UMC pump off the rack and drew a bead on the only exposed vital part of an alligator, his ear. I squeezed off a shot and the 22 solid appeared to hit its mark. The Gator turned side ways in the water his front leg quivered in the air as he sunk out of site.
I felt a familiar satisfaction in the kill. I had already killed to many gators to count. I had taken over 30 in one setting already. Here was the trophy I had wanted.
I got out of the jeep and reached for a gaff I had made out of a 8’ cypress tree it was about 3” at the big end and about 1” at the small end. The gaff was made out of a ¼” welding rod so that while dragging for gators if I hooked a root or something solid, it would bend away and allow me to bring the gaff in. But if I had hooked a gator the gaff was strong enough to bring in the biggest of gators.
I waded into the water about knee deep and drag as far as I can reach. No good. I wade out about thigh deep, still no good. I wade on out, now I am in the deepest part, it is just above my waist and I am dragging every section to try and find this enormous gator. No good.
So being the hunter I am and having seen enough dead animals to know. I figure I will come back tomorrow and I can then pick this dead gator out of the water after he floats to the top. So!
I come driving back after a good nights rest. There he is! Floating right near the waters edge. Hmmm. I think to myself, He is not belly up as he should be. There is this white blob sticking out of the top of his head probably his brains swollen and protruding.
He is so close to the bank and he is in such shallow water that he probably can’t turn belly up anyway.
So I figure, if he is still alive when I walk up to him he will swim away.
I walk cautiously up to the waters edge, and he doesn’t move. I walk right up to him, he still doesn’t move.
He is as still as though he was dead, or so close to being dead there is no danger at all.
I knell down and reach out for his snout to rake him in closer to the bank with my finger tips so I can pull him out on the ground and cut his head off. But it appears he is so buoyant the weight of my touch buoys him under and just out of my reach.
Hmmm, he may still be alive but he is so close to death he is oblivious to me, I think.
I squat down and swing my leg out over the water to try and rake him in with my foot. It seems as though the weight of the touch of my foot buoys him under and he comes up just out of my reach. Now the only way to get to him is to wade out in the water. I’m no fool, I know perhaps you think differently but I am not about to go in the water with this gator no matter how close to death he may seem.
I go back to the truck and get my gaff hook. I turn and look at him. He has drifted about half way out into the small pond. Hmmm. I reach into the front of the jeep and take my lariat. I tie it to the gaff and toss it out over the gator hoping to bring the point of the gaff into him so I can slowly drag him in. The gaff drifts up to him, the weight of the gaff seems to buoys him under and floats right over him. “One loop no soup.”
I take another toss. Perfect! I begin to pull it in; it is coming in just right. Oh man! Right at his front armpit, the gaff is poised perfectly at just the right moment I jerk with all my strength knowing the welding rod will bend, but I want to know how much life is left in this old gator.
Well! There is no way to tell you what I saw. Unless you see a sight like this you will never comprehend the power a gator can display. This guy was thrashing back and forth in the water with his whole body. The water was white with froth. If this guy had taken my arm or my leg I would not be here today to tell the story. He would have shoved me under a root somewhere and come back to dine when he was ready.
I had shot him in the eye and knocked him out. I thought he was dead. He was only unconscious
Well I pulled my gaff in, made up my lariat, put it away and went home.
Ole One Eye is still roaming around out there somewhere.