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Old September 1, 2009, 07:20 PM   #1
bswiv
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Another lizzard for the Old Guys.....

He's not a giant but still a solid 11 feet, and fat....... 400# or so.

Here in NE FL they have been unusually skittish this year. We've had to work hard to catch good ones. Water has been high which is part of the problem. High water lets them get out in the trees and eat possums. And if they are in the trees we can't get at them.

This one dummied up shortly after sunrise. He was a good 1/4 mile from the bank and in 10 feet of water so we should by all rights have NEVER been able to catch him once he bolted, which he did while we were still a good hundred yards away.

Water was SLICK though and once we got to where we though he went down we could still see the swirls in the water from his tail where he powered off. Just took a couple of educated guess casts at where we figured he might have settled. Second one with the big rod came up lucky.

Kind of a odd gator too. Once we snagged him he did NOTHING. I knew he was on but when I set down with the 80 lb rod nothing happened. It was very unusual. He just let me slowly, and with a good bit of effort, haul him to the surface.

As soon as I realized what was happening I started yelling for the harpoon. Just as the gator reached the surface, with the harpoon still not ready ( Skip's getting old and SLOW!), the gator realized that there was a problem. He was about 2 feet from the boat facing away at this point.

When he let loose with that big tail at least 5 gallons of water came over the side of the boat. Soaked my feet. As you can see we chase them in a Flats boat whick sits VERY low in the water.

And to make the point of how tough the hunting has been take note of the secret weapon we employed.........BANANAS! Yes I know that is counter to superstition but the way things went the last couple of trips we figured a little reverse Karma might help.

Next trip we're taking a whole box of 'em!





And as you can see, my buddy Skip just will not smile...... When you're catching gators you're suposed to smile!


Last edited by bswiv; September 1, 2009 at 07:22 PM. Reason: Wrong picture.......
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Old September 1, 2009, 07:43 PM   #2
simonkenton
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That is one wild report.
So what is the deal, you see where the gator submerges, and then cast for him with a treble hook?
What is the deal with the harpoon? Did you use a harpoon on this guy?
Is it a hand-thrown harpoon?

Reminds me of the movie Moby Dick.

What do you do with the gator? He looks alive, do you kill him and eat him or what?
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Old September 1, 2009, 10:22 PM   #3
hogdogs
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As for the details of snagging, I will leave that to bswiv... As for what do you do with it.... bswiv is a seafood licensed dealer so he is free to sell all or part. As for us "civvies" we may be legal to sell to a dealer but i doubt it. Hides might be sellable to a taxidermist but I aint sure. I am after meat when I hunt/fish so I keep every ounce of meat from game. A gator under 9 feet is very edible. Legs may be tough fried but make fine meat in a gumbo or jambalaya where it is long cooked low heat.

As for live or dead... The dead (pun intended) giveaway is the legs... A live gator in a boat will be "chicken winged" with legs tied over the back to limit mobility... If not, they are gone or tearing up the boat or dead. Gators get a bang stick usually.
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Old September 2, 2009, 04:34 AM   #4
bswiv
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HD has it right.

Gator gets cleaned, a project that we'll deal with this afternoon. All the meat, even the ribs & legs. Meat off of these larger ones can be tough unless you stick to the prime cuts, the loin, backstrap, tail and jowl. A couple of the smaller pieces of regular body meat are also fryable.

The legs are TOUGH. We've a well mixed customer base at the market, good number of folks from SE Asia. Gator leg soup is a tradition there. And to tell you how tough the legs are, I've been told that the soup gets made and then only the liquid is used......???

The ribs can be tough unless you do them right. One option is the same as we do with a fresh hog ham. A couple of hours on the smoker, lots of smoke and some spice. Then double wrap in foil and stick in the over for another few hours at a low heat. Will come out tender. Meat is very white. You can also use a pressure cooker but it seems now days that few folks, except for those of us who hunt, have them.

Someone will also come along and have to have the head. In the "raw" like that they are worth little.

In the open water lakes we hunt snagging is what we do. The harpoon is simply a hand tossed affair. We made what we use from drilled 3/8 hardened bolts. Have to have at least one, we use 2 when they are big, in him before you hit him wth the bangstick. Soon as they are dead they sink like a rock!

The skins are not worth much this year. So far I've not found a buyer willing to pay enough to even cover the cost of shipping them. Very frustrating as we have 5 skins that total a little over 53 feet. In years past they have brought between 20 & 40 dollars a foot...........
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Old September 2, 2009, 08:01 AM   #5
simonkenton
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Well thanks for the informative report and photos.
That is really wild. I am in the North Carolina mountains, I have never seen a gator outside of a Tarzan movie. The thing looks like a damn dinosaur to me.

I do know a guy who tans alligator hides.
I went to high school in Atlanta with Chris Plott and his wife Connie.
This is supposed to be a pretty good tannery but I have never seen the place.

http://www.amtan.com/whoweare.htm
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Old September 2, 2009, 09:18 AM   #6
Uncle Buck
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Bananas? Everyone knows you are not supposed to have bananas in a boat. It is just like talking while fishing, smoking while deer hunting, etc etc etc.
Can you still call yourselves hunters after this? I think you should immediately sell me the boat (At a huge discount, because of the bananas, and consider yourselves lucky).
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Old September 2, 2009, 09:28 AM   #7
hogdogs
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Buck, We wouldn't even allow "Banana Boat" brand suntan lotion on our boats...
Brent
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Old September 2, 2009, 10:32 AM   #8
simonkenton
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I had meant to ask about that.
Please explain the bananas.
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Old September 3, 2009, 04:44 AM   #9
bswiv
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The bananas were use as a inoculation of sorts. Last 3 trips to the water ended with some SERIOUS screwups. Figured sense the Karma was running against us we might as well fight back.

Seeing how well it worked out next trip we'll have a whole bushel of them in the boat!

SIMONKENTON-------

What a small world it can be. The folks at AMTAN. We've had them do a few hides and regularly suggest their work to others. They do VERY good work.

In the past I have spoken to Cristy Plott Reid ( Spelling? ) a time or two. Very nice young woman. Could it be that she is the daughter of the folks you went to HS with?

Do you still know them?
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Old September 3, 2009, 05:43 AM   #10
hogdogs
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Simon, without verification from the family, I would bet a dollar to a dough nut that they are kin to the family that gave their namesake to both the "Plott creek" and the "plott hound" Is this family near the "Maggie Valley" area? The creek and hounds are named for the Plott family who immigrated and settled on the previously un named creek with their "bear hounds" I think from germany and they discovered that with just a little work they made versatile dogs, catching bears, hogs, coons and yotes/wolves... The Plott hound has gone on to be known as one of the most gritty non-bulldog work dogs in north america. Some are born "open on track" typical of most hounds and is best for coon and bears while others from the same litter will be silent making them awesome, large, Gritty hog stopping machines!
Sorry for the veer!
Brent
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Old September 3, 2009, 10:57 AM   #11
simonkenton
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So the banana is a kind of good luck charm? Is this something unique to Florida hunters in general, or is this a magic charm just used by gator harpooners?
Give me the scoop, maybe I will try it next time I go deer hunting!


Cristy is either the daughter of Chris Plott, or else his little sister.

Yes they are the same family that came up with the Plott hound.
I grew up in the suburbs in Atlanta in the sixties. The Plotts were our next door neighbors. Their family was, indeed, from "up in the mountains" somewhere, I am not sure why Mr. Plott had moved to Atlanta.
They kept a couple of Plott hounds in the backyard in a fenced area, those dogs howled all the time.
Chris was a couple of years ahead of me, I didn't know him well, but I was good friends with his brother Phil. I can remember sitting in their basement, talking with Phil in 1966 and listening to Ga. Bulldog games on the radio.
Phil passed away in a tragic way as a young man, or else I imagine he would be in the family business today.
Connie, Chris' wife, was in my homeroom for 3 years so I knew her fairly well.

I haven't seen the Plotts in 40 years. We lived in north Atlanta, their tannery is in Griffin, which is 40 miles south of Atlanta, I hope and trust that they have gotten the hell out of the Big City, and that they now live out in the country, where they belong, near Griffin.
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Old September 3, 2009, 11:14 AM   #12
hogdogs
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As far as my circle, the banana is absolute TABOO but from what I read of bswiv and the nanners, he was using reverse psych... errr reverse superstition since he was suffering some dry runs due to a tough bunch of natural variables... I am not at legal liberty to name all of our superstitions and "offerings"/"sacrifices" to the "fish gods" Yeah I am a bit superstitious!
Brent
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Old September 3, 2009, 12:19 PM   #13
FrontSight
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Beautiful, good job as always bswiv!

And as far as bananas go: We had some in the boat during my first ever goose hunt, and 4 of us bagged 9 canadas, so I think they are good luck, not bad!
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