Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Rush Right Over, Y'All!

"All it did was make this gator mad."
"Fear had taken hold at this point."
"When I pulled the trigger this time, water just exploded on all of us."
Mandy Stokes, 'gator-hunter, Alabama River

"We give all the glory to God. Ten men couldn't have done what we did."
John Stokes, Mandy's husband and co-'gator-hunter
  • Alabama Alligator-1.jpg
    In this Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 photo, A monster alligator weighing 1011.5 pounds measuring 15-feet long is pictured in Thomaston, Ala. The alligator was caught in the Alabama River near Camden, Ala., by Mandy Stokes at right, along with her husband John Stokes, at her right, and her brother-in-law Kevin Jenkins, left, and his two teenage children, Savannah Jenkins, 16, and Parker Jenkins, 14, all of Thomaston, Ala. (AP Photo/, Sharon Steinmann)The Associated Press
"Most nights on the rivers between the Millers Ferry Dam and the Mobile Bay Causeway, you can find stretches of bank that light up like holiday displays, there are so many gator eyes reflecting red in a spotlight's beam."
Jeff Duet, Alabama, U.S.A.

That was one venerable alligator indeed. At 4.5-metres in length, and 450-kilograms it was a granddaddy, to be sure. Living out its life-span in the dignity that nature accords all its creatures in their natural environment. Likely never suspecting that its end lurked in the dedicated 'gator-hunting hands of a doughty family fortunate enough to have drawn one of 150 permits to hunt alligators this year.

A mere 25 kilometres west of Montgomery, the state capital, an extended family of father, daughter and son, 16 and 14 respectively, along with the father's sister-in-law and her husband, set off, permit in hand to do a day's hunting of those beasts who unreasonably in their reptile brains feel secure in their natural environment, for little do they know that they are viewed as prospects for a hunting expedition on the part of other creatures entering their natural preserve for that very purpose.

When the family scoped out their prospects they came across one formidable beast whose size awakened a challenge in their hunting spirits. Mind, were the situation to have been reversed and say for example, the 14-year old, Parker Jenkins, had fallen into the river and been scooped up by an enterprising grip-jawed alligator to submerge with his prey, the horror of an alligator consuming a human child would have gripped the nation.

The state would have entered the picture, dispatching its Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries biologists to use explosives to blast the creatures out of the water, dispatching them all to oblivion, making the river safe for the recreational transport of city folk enjoying their summer afternoon out in the wilds of Alabama. On this occasion, after four hours of tempting alligators to take bait with lines and snatch hooks, they had their prize.

Wait: not so soon. The three adults and two young 'uns grappled with the beast for the better part of five tireless, exciting hours as the alligator in its existential fight for survival, stretched and flattened the three-pronged snatch hooks, until there were a mere few left. As the alligator began to submerge the family worked frantically to wrap the lines attached to it to the cleats on the boats, so the strength of the beast hauled their boat with its passengers along with its frantic efforts to free itself.

Ms. Stokes made her first attempt with her 20-gauge shotgun to bring the contest to an end, aiming it directly between its eyes, a technique she had been taught in 'gator training' classes. Her shot went awry and as the animal surged and high-speed-towed the six-metre boat across the river the boat finally crashed into a tree stump looming out of the water, rather unsettling the five people within. But another opportunity presented itself and the woman shot the alligator square between the eyes.

Such exhilaration, such an excess of pride and superiority! Their hunt was a magnificent effort and their prize -- after weighing in where a winch assembly in use to hoist average gators was destroyed, requiring the use of a backhoe to lift the carcass to be weighed -- was a dandy. Next on the agenda: a taxidermy shop.
  • b3a1912965da24205d0f6a706700720a.jpg
    In this Saturday, Aug 16, 2014 photo, a large alligator weighing 1011.5 pounds measuring 15-feet long is pictured in Thomaston, Ala. The alligator was caught in the Alabama River near Camden, Ala., by Mandy Stokes and family, according to AL.COM. (AP Photo/, Sharon Steinmann)The Associated Press

For those in awe and feeling slightly jealous of this virtuous effort and its stupendous catch, the proud hunters gave hope; plenty more where this one came from, including a three-metre specimen spotted before they hooked this gargantuan one. Go to it, folks!

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