After talking with a guy who had some available alligator tags, I hastily made my way from my college near Toledo, OH to Arcadia, FL. The drive was epic. I took my dad's Toyota Camry, and strapped my kayak to the top. It was a marathon of a drive, but after 20 some hours, I made it to Florida worn out and dizzy from the trip.
At 9:30am, I met Brad, my connection and guide, and we headed to the ranch we were going to hunt. Quite unexpectedly, the method of hunting was more spot and stalk than I had anticipated.
We had no problems getting after it and spotting some gators, the problem was me hitting them. I was using my 30-06 with a 6x scope, and just couldn't seem to connect.
After making some adjustments, we went out again and looked for more gators. we found a heck of a toad too. (I learned later that this gator was over 10' long) I tried a hasty stalk as the brute was cruising through the water. I crawled through some tall grass and popped out from behind a live-oak complete with spanish moss... and nothing... nothing but an intense stinging sensation all over my legs. FIRE ANTS! and boy did they have the upper hand!
After taking care of my insect problem, I leaned up against that live-oak hoping that gator would come back up on the bank... and... MORE FIRE ANTS!
So I decided that after all the heck I raised getting bit by fire ants, I wasn't going to see that gator for a week, so we ventured on.
Towards the end of the day, we found a decent sized gator sunning in the shallows and instantly my newly zeroed firearm rang out a crisp note of death. The only thing that punctauted the stillness of the aftermath of my muzzle blast was the roar of water as the gator writhed in nerve induced convulsions. The shot completely removed the animals cerebrum, so conscious movement was not an option.
After a more than anxious retrieve, we tagged the gator and put it in cold storage. The only logical thing to do after such a fun day, was to head out for some drinks! Which I know now is always a mistake. But I was younger... and I recovered.
The next day I learned how to dress out a gator, and took quite a bit of meat home for my friends and family. Not to mention, having one of the greatest experiences of my youth.