“I go alligator hunting in the Chattahoochee River. I sit in the river, water up to my neck. If I can see an alligator, I can call him. I snap my fingers on the surface of the water and he thinks it is a bunch of brim biting. No alligator can resist a fresh fish and they will come up to you, and get eye to eye. Looking dead at him, take the hook, stick in it his bottom lip, and kick him in the belly at the same time. It terrifies the alligator. The hook is tied to a cable and a tree or a stump. Pull him up to the bank, take your rifle, bam, and then cut the skin and pull it off from the back of his neck. He gives a good fight but as long as the cable holds up and your hook doesn’t break, he isn’t going anywhere. Sometimes that happens. The fight can take 45 minutes or until you pop him between the eyes with the big rifle. It depends on when you take your shot. The biggest gator I hauled in was 11 feet. It weighed over 800 pounds.
Sometimes I am fishing with a rod and reel and a baby alligator grabs the lure. I pull him up and say, “Hey big Leroy,’ grab him by the neck, take him off with pliers, say ‘Get the heel out of here,’ and throw him back in. Notice I said heel. Every bit of an alligator is edible. The game warden didn’t believe how I hunt gators and had to take a picture of it. This is from the old days, I was taught this as a boy in the Escambia County swamps and watched my grandpaw do it. My first time to hunt I was full of beer and liquor. That was not a good combination but that is what we did back then. I haven’t been bit yet and don’t expect to be.
I grew up on a farm and we raised hogs, cows, chickens and goats, anything you could sell. I was a heavy equipment operator in Miami for three years. I was a welder and a farmer. I met my wife, the Bang Bang Lady, by a mistake at the time. Me and her daddy was so-called friends and I was riding the road drinking. Her dad made me stop and go fishing and come back to my senses. I rubbed fish slime on her back and she cussed and raised hell and after that it was on. She has been with me ever since. 43 years. We don’t argue or fight, if you’ve got to raise hell, go in the other room. Just don’t slam the door.
I have everything I need and then some. I sell watermelon out of the back of my truck to stay out of trouble. It is a good way to meet people.”