My Mom, brother Ryan and I joined my Nanna and Pappa on a big hunting trip in August. We stalked hogs in Alabama. Hunted hogs with dogs in Florida. Then we got to go gator hunting on the Kissimmee River.
Captain Billy went over everything with us, so we would be comfortable when we were on the boat. We shot the crossbow, tried out the harpoon and bang stick, and went over safety issues. We all were confident we could do this!
My Mom and brother filled their tags first. Mom got a big 10 footer and Ryan got a 7 footer. It was now time for me and Nanna to get our chance at a big gator. I had a couple of alligators that would come close, but would go under the water before I could take a shot. It was really cool to see their eyes glowing in the dark, reflecting the flash light. Then I had an 8 footer that came within range, and I aimed and pulled the trigger. Nothing. What! The safety was still on! I was heartbroken, but my Nanna said sometimes things happen for a reason. We worked hard to get another alligator to come in range, but they were real spooky with the hurricane moving in.
Finally I had a big alligator come straight for the boat; he went down before he was in range of the crossbow. Eventually Pappa saw him hiding in the bushes alongside the river, he said “Sarah he is in the bushes” just a couple of feet from the boat. So Pappa held onto me, while I found a position I could shoot from. Billy said I wouldn’t make it, but I said I could, and I pulled the trigger!! I did it!! I made the shot! Billy said afterward that I made a shot most adults couldn’t have made. Following the shot, the gator took off with the line and float in tow. Pappa and Billy pulled the line in and then the gator was bang sticked and brought aboard the boat. Everything worked out for the best; I missed the 8 footer, and ended up with a 9 footer that had a good bit of its tail missing. It was huge! And the best part was, I did this with my family!
My Mom is getting a shoulder mount made for me, and we eat the gator meat for dinner often. I like fried best, dipped in Ranch.
Photo Credit: Shannon Brandon