Gridiron, Gators and Frog Gigging! (Part 1)

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View from my season seats in Bryant Denny Stadium

Just like any fall Saturday in the South mine on 20 SEP 2014 had watching my favorite football team in the crosshairs. My team, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, happened to be playing the Gators from the University of Florida this particular weekend, purely coincidence. This wouldn’t be my only encounter with some gators that day. No this day was bound to be full of Gridiron, Gators and Frog Gigging.

Time for some Gridiron

About a week prior a friend of mine who lives on Lake Eufaula, a lake known for its prime bass fishing, called me with the news that a Georgia gator tag holder had no interest in actually filling the tag. In Georgia as long as the tag holder is licensed and in the boat, if every other person in the boat is licensed anyone can actually dispatch the alligator so I jumped at the opportunity to join in on this hunt. Even in the fall this southern boy’s priorities lie in the right place; see I am a season ticket holder for the Crimson Tide so I was essentially passing on the actual game day experience that I love so much for this hunt. Not a hard decision and you will hopefully see why from my synopsis. The first order of business was to make sure my friend in Eufaula knew that I would arrive at his house and be settled in front of his television by 2:30pm CST because that is when the game kicked off. I jokingly told him that we first had to watch my team slaughter the gators before we could go do the same (he is a Florida fan) and to be quite honest I was more nervous about the ball game than I was at our chances of filling the tag. I also informed him I wanted to do a little frog gigging. I hadn’t been frog gigging since I was a little boy and was itching to go. The last time my friend and I were out on Lake Eufaula it was during the Alabama Gator Season and we must have seen 150 frogs that had legs that would make fighting roosters jealous. My lack of a gig pole didn’t deter me because I just made one and I will detail that how you can do that in part 4 of this series.

frog giggingThe decision to give up a coveted tag is a difficult one to make but I want to defend the gentleman that did so. For folks who don’t get the opportunity to hunt alligators a large investment is usually required after the kill – tanning the hide, processing the meat, taxidermy bill, etc. That is added to the cost of the harvest which includes gas for the boat, proper equipment to catch the gator (harpoons, hooks, ropes, poles, bang stick, tape and knives), licenses, etc. With the economy in the shape it is today sometimes when we get drawn isn’t always the best time to actually go or have to pay for the associated costs. I commend this gentleman for passing his opportunity on to another hunter and thank God for providing me with the opportunity and resources to be able to take advantage of it.

One of my favorite parts of this day was watching the Crimson Tide beat the Gators 42-21. In true “SEC country” fashion the entire duration of the game my friend and I were ribbing each other. It was truly a blast to watch the game with good people who I consider true friends, but, as soon as the clock hit zero in that fourth quarter it was time to shift the focus to the other type of gator. 

Ready for the Real Gators

I have hunted gators with my friend (who wished not to be named for this article) from Eufaula 5 times now and for good reason. The knowledge he has of alligators and alligator hunting is truly priceless and can only be gained from a lifetime of experience. When he was young he worked at Gatorland in South Florida, he guided trophy hunts for alligators in Florida and knows Lake Eufaula like the back of his hand. It is so impressive to be in the boat with someone of his caliber and to see their knowledge on display. On our first trip together we would be on a gator and he would tell me “this gator is about to go down” and sure enough it would. I would hear him say “this gator is about to swim out to open water” and then watch the gator do exactly what my friend predicted as if the gator was following his commands. Again, this was my fifth time out with my friend for a gator and the four previous times we got one (reason why I said previously I felt better about my chances of tagging out).

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A little hard to see the tip of the knife but that is actually me getting ready to dispatch my 2011 gator also caught in Eufaula.

This evening we pushed off about 10pm and headed into Georgia waters with all the necessary gear,  tag holder and tag in tow. Georgia law on catching gators is similar to Alabama’s. The catch must be done by harpoon, rod & reel or bow plus no bait can be used. In Georgia you can hunt gators 24 hours a day but they are much easier to spot at night due to the red reflection of their eyes. You are allowed to dispatch the gator with a bang stick, shotgun or knife. For us knife is the preferred method and while this may sound crazy it isn’t. An alligator has very hard “armor-like” scales called scoots that run from their skull to their tail. These scoots can deflect and even stop a bullet (I know from experience). I would much rather catch the gator and get it to the boat live and dispatch it with a knife by severing its spinal cord. It is a very quick ethical kill for the animal and it also improves meat quality because there is a main artery that runs along the spine so the alligator bleeds out quickly. This also reduces the chance of bullet deflection, gun/bang stick malfunction and just knocking the gator out rather than dispatching it.

More Gridiron, Gators and Frog Gigging to come

Please plan on catching the next 5 parts of this 6 part series about my day full of Gridiron, Gators and Frog Gigging. I promise you will get a kick out of it and may just learn a thing or two about hunting these majestic reptiles.

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Chris Wallace

About the Author:

Growing up my father had my little brother and I on the Tennessee Valley waterways in Northern Alabama every Saturday morning 30 minutes before sunrise. If we weren’t wetting a line then we were working around our place in the country. My father instilled a tough work ethic in all of us because that is all he knew, which is why I am so appreciative of him taking the time to teach me how to fish. Due to his work schedule we never got around to the hunting part. I was always interested in hunting; researched it, watched the shows, read about it and even watched wildlife I just never went throughout my time living at home.

When I was 17 years old I convinced my parents that they needed to sign a waiver for me to enter the Army Reserves Delayed Entry Program (DEP). I became a 54 Bravo (Chemical Operations Specialist) and had the privilege of serving my country while attending college. At college I finally got introduced to hunting by a friend of mine. On my first hunt my buddy harvested a doe and allowed me to assist with the field dressing, skinning and processing. It was at that moment that I was absolutely overcome with the passion that is hunting. I served my time with the Army and was honorably discharged but will carry those lessons learned as well as the love of hunting with me for the rest of my life.

The empowerment that comes with hunting is so rewarding. Now I am 32 years old, married with a son and work for a government contractor on a military installation in North Alabama. To know that on any given day I can utilize my knowledge of the outdoors to harvest a meal for my family and not just any meal but something nutritious and delicious welcomes a sense of freedom I hope everyone gets to experience. Hopefully throughout the information I disseminate you will find bits and pieces that you will carry to the field and find your freedom and expound on it as well.

All glory to God and please remember to pray for our men and women downrange.

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