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Just back from South Florida on what has become my annual Gator hunt, this year it seemed to begin to unravel but came together fabulously at the end!
I got a call a couple weeks before I came down that a Gator I shot last year, only to have the arrow bounce off his back has reappeared in a private lake my friend has access too. I made plans to drive down and good friend Eric Vaillancourt (Expedition Trader) accompanied me. I picked Eric up at Tampa International and we drove 90 min east,it was dark when we arrived, we could hear the Big Bull Gators bellowing only adding to the excitement of tomorrow’s hunt!
First light finds us shooting bows and double checking gear, I use and older Mathews Legacy that is set-up just for Gators/Sharks, AMS Big Game feel w/ float, Cajun Archery arrows and Steel Force Gator Heads. Eric converts his Hoyt (primary hunting bow) into the same setup. We are dialed in as the morning mist begins to rise off the water!
We move around the lake glassing Gators, we see a couple good ones at the far end (lake is approximately 250 acres), we drive down, quietly ease onto the shore, the vegetation is over our heads, moving slow has a duel purpose of keeping quiet and not stepping on anything that might bite us. We setup a foxpro caller 10 yards tour left (up wind), clear a slight shooting lane and hunker down as the call begins!
Immediately a Sow (8 footer) has her maternal instincts triggered and swims (fast) into only a few yards from us, we actually exposed ourselves and moved a bit to stop her from ending up in our lap! Soon after an 11 footer comes into range, he’s a great Gator but I’m holding out. We continue to call and a couple more Gators come near but not into range as the 11 footer has them spooked. After 30 min or so we slip out and move further down the shore.
Our second setup has us on a bare bank, it’s where Gators sun themselves, a large track shows us our Giant has been here, recently but offers little cover. We agree to give it a try, Glen and Eric duck down a behind me and I stand out on the bare bank as the calling begins. Once again a sow comes in right away, this one is a little smaller. 5 min into the calling we get a glimps of a large Gator, he’s 400-500/yards out but coming in. He’s in no great hurry but working his way towards us, he hones in on the call and makes a b-line for it. About 20 yards out he slows, he’s big for a reason and is moving very Cautiously! He holds up at 17 yards, there are a few Bullrushes between us, I see an opening, slowly draw and release! It’s a hit!
Keep it coming! I put in for FL and results are soon!!!!!!!!
Glen backs out leaving Eric and I to watch the float, the Gator has moved out into a deep pool and isn’t moving too much. 30 min later Glen shows up in the boat and we head out to the float, I retrieve it and confirm the Gator is still on line. We rig up for a second shot, as soon as the bow is ready I begin to pull the line, nothing but slack! He’s off!!! Man I’m sick!
I’ve stuck this Gator 2x and he’s gotten off both times! Now it’s personal! We let everything settle down and quietly troll around in the boat, glassing the lake. We see out Gator but he’s not letting us close. We try a couple more calling setups but only getting small Gators to respond! We break for lunch and intend on resuming in the afternoon. As luck would have it a thunderstorm moves in and shuts down the afternoon hunt. We setup for a night hunt!
ouch that stinks. Any idea where you hit him? Scoots are tough. Also how do you id a sow?
What little moon we had has already set and it’s pitch black on the water, we ease the boat into the dark lake and quietly begin circling the shore looking in the shallows for a monster. We see several Gators and pass up a couple nice 10 footers because we know the lake holds bigger.
Don yes it does! On the sows it’s preety much an assumption, they are smaller but have “age” on them, nose and eye area are bulbulous scoots are rounded off. I hit him in the neck (in front of shoulder) he was quartered into me!
As we turn into to back end of the lake we see a large Gator, we don’t think he’s mine but he’s damn big, 12+ feet, Eric’s up. As we close in the arrow is released, it’s a hit but bounces off his back, the Gator swims away harmlessly. For the next hour and a half we see Gators but can’t close the distance. I’m frustrated as the weather will be bad for the next 2 days severely impacting the hunt, we need to get it done tonight!
We see a distant set of eyes and angle off to parallel our quary as going straight after them only results in the disappearing. We get into range I see he’s not my Gator but out of frustration I decide to take him, he’s a solid 11 footer. As I hit the release all hell breaks lose, nock failure! The Gator is still up and Eric slams him with a perfect shot!
If you’ve ever shot a big Gator with Archery equipment you know the fun has only began. We fight this monster for 90 min getting a couple more lines on him and eventually wrapping him snout with tape and cutting his spinal cord behind the head! He’s rolled into the boat with much effort, but we have our first Gator and he’s a Stud!
Wind has come up a bit and we’ve made enough noise on the water to raise the dead! We should call it a night but damnit, I’m not ready to quit and we decide to stay! The Gators have mostly disappeared but the few still up are in heavy cattails and bull rushes. We see a couple and move in, one goes out into the lake right away, we decide to move in on the other one, we are able to get into range but he’s a dink! We decide to chase the other one, every time we get close he goes under! We play cat and mouse for 30 min, we know he’s big but not sure how big. Finally we are in range, Glen is crouched in front and below me on the deck, he says it’s not “my” Gator, I have a better view and am sure it is! Eric is behind me, I whisper for him to turn his head lamp on to light up my site, I’m at full draw but the peep/pins just aren’t working! I lift the bow and aim down the shaft, release and smack the Giant getting really good\great penetration! I throw the float overboard and feel the adrenaline hit!
The Gator shoots out into the deepest part of the lake, same area Glens Gator west town. We decide to get another hook into him before we lift him for the kill shot! We hook him on a pole line and attemp to lift, it’s not happening!!! We decide to get a hand line on him so all of us can get this beast up, he’s holding tight to the bottom! We get the third hook into him and begin to lift, all Hell breaks loose and he rolls, he’s off!
Thank God the arrow\float are still attached! He’s moved into the shallows now near a Bullrush patch, as we move in he comes out of the water right next to the boat, he’s tailwalking and roaring!!!! He is one pissed off Gator, we finally realize how big he is!! I’m able to get another arrow into him, right behind the shoulder, he’s bleeding good now and with 2 holes in the thoracic cavity he will soon die! Or so we think!
Every time we get him up to the boat he makes a run and we are afraid we’ll lose him, one arrow left on the boat, it’s and old practice arrow but a new head is put on! Glen and a Eric slowly raise the Monster as I jockey for position to finish him, I see my opportunity, release and miss the walnut sized brain by a centimeter! Shit!
We have no choice now, there is a pistol on board but no ammo! Yikes! We time grabbing the Hators snout between chomps, Glen and I lift his head into the boat as I wrap his snout with tape! I then cut his spinal cord right behind his head! I feel relieved but we still have to get this monster on board! Three of us get him in, I’m near the head and a Eric is rolling the tail in, it just keeps coming in the boat! No ground shrinkage this thing is HUGE!!!
Exhausted and Elated we know pictures will be horrible at night and truthfully I’m not sure I want to lift the Gator in\out of the boat! We decide to crash for a couple hours and take pics in the morning! Here are some photos!
Wow Tim! That thing is a BEAST! Congrats!
Congratulations... big un. Thanks for sharing.
Dinosaurs is right......congrats!
Wow -- great story! That's huge!!
Another day in paradise! Congrats to you both!
Those are massive! Awesome!
Awesome, congratulations to both of you.
Time for some Gatored Pizza !! ... those are some big critters ... congrats
Dream hunt!! Thanks for posting
Hardcore. Thanks for sharing!
Was waiting for the story. Good stuff! Sounds like an absolute blast! Congrats to the both of you!
Wow, I thought last year's story wouldn't be outdone...
Any way to age those things?
Unreal. How long was that behemoth. How old would he be
That's crazy! Very cool and sounds like one heck of a good time. Congrats!
Tim, was very kind to invite me along. It was very cool to actually call the gators in. I was surprised at how quickly they react to the call. I took video and it only took about 2 minutes for the big guy to cover 200 yards. Tim made a great shot but the arrow did not penetrate as it should have. We were using Steelforce gator heads. In almost every case the broadhead either worked it was out or bounced off.
I was shooting a 70 # bow and the arrow weighed in at 1100 grains+! Penetration should not have been a problem. However, they are tough critters.
It was a great time.
Life is good.
Those things look huge with you standing next to them! Did you get a weight on either one of them?
Thous are some HUGE salamanders !
Great gator(s) and storytelling Tim!
Sounds like a good old fashioned redneck rodeo..Haha!!!
Holy Crap. Those things are huge. I cannot imagine killing one with a sharp pointed thing shot off a string!! That's bad ass. Congrats guys.
Thanks everyone! My Gator taped out just over 13 feet with skin on and 13 feet 4 inches once we skinned him, not sure how it works but he’s a solid 13 footer, in Whitetail terms that’s 200 inches! While we didn’t weight him, he was definitely scratching 700 lbs! Very old and on the decline, 40-50 years old. Eric’s was a solid 11 footer 450-500 lbs 30+ years old, stud of a Gator! We were told the average Gator kill is like 7&1/2 footer?
Good story, thanks for sharing.
Fried gator, gator gumbo, grits and gator, gator etuffe, grilled gator, gator omelette, baked gator, gator soup, boiled gator, .....
They’s lots ‘O ways to make gator!
Not to mention Big ‘ol Gator Pizza!
Well done! Congratulations!
That's awesome! My Florida gator was just over 7 foot, I didn't hold out. :) Congrats
Congratulations! Someday maybe I'll get to go. ;) What kind of sound do you use on the call?
Those are some beasts congrats guys!
Very kool reading bpm and pix
Good luck, Robb
13' and 700 lbs???!!! WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Awesome work... 2 nice gators. Congrats!
I have a 2 minute video that shows Tim's gator being called in and the shot. I do not have any idea how to post it.
If someone does, I would be happy to send it to them.
You could upload the video to youtube and then post the link.
Monsters!! great job guys!!
Wow, very nice..............."CHOOT EM" "CHOOT EM"
Holy Moly! vyou just changed my opinion of bowhunting alligator!
Holy BPM!!! CONGRATS on a HUGE gator!
Eric Vaillancourt's Link
I enjoyed the story and the pictures. I can't imagine what the adrenaline was like. Congratulations to both of you on your Booner Gators.
Hopefully, this works. I have attempted to upload the video of Tim's shot. You can hear the call if you listen carefully. This gator came from about 200 yards away.
We use baby alligator in distress, itbworks like s champ! This is placement on my second shot. First shot was in his back and I attempted a brain shot, missed by CM.
Cool video! What was the shot distance?
That's a pretty good "poke" with bowfishing gear!
Badass!! Congrats man. Thanks for posting the recap, bucket list hunt for me for sure!
Holy smokes, those were both huge! Congrats on a great hunt!
I just got the email I drew Florida for the second year in a row first hunt.
Awesome!!!! Hope you get a Monster as well!!!
Tim, where'd you get your gator calls for the FoxPro?
We picked up hatchlings and recorded them, then uploaded to the Foxpro.
Holy smokes!!!! That's amazing! Those things look like Nile crocs! That's awesome, congrats.
Congrats! Sounds like a great trip!
A lady in Florida just got eaten by a 12-6 gator. Walking her dogs