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Friday, June 14, 2024
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Ornery gators

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Florida’s alligator season will be opening-up very soon, and I know a lot of friends who are busy going over their gear, getting the boats outfitted and making plans. Not so much here at the old Benoit homestead. For the third year in a row, I failed to draw tags. I really was looking forward to filling my freezer with gator again. But, regardless of who draws the tags, I just hope that they get filled.

I don’t know the exact number of gators in Florida and I don’t really have confidence in the guesses by our Florida Wildlife Commission. What I can tell you, however, is that there are a lot of them. And lately, they’re getting to be on the ornery side. There have been a couple encounters lately between swimmers and gators which didn’t end well.

Temporary closures of swimming areas have become necessary for various public safety reasons, but mostly for aggressive wildlife encounters. Earlier this month, Alexander Springs was briefly closed for the removal of an aggressive alligator, though re-opened, they once again are closed after an 8 footer decided to snack on the left arm of a gentleman while he was out snorkeling.

The month of July is alligator nesting season in Florida, and alligator mothers are highly alert and protective of their eggs and young. During this hot season, all reptiles have an increased appetite and are more active. Our FWC encourages everyone to use caution when in and around water, including on the shoreline. Especially if you spot a nesting mound; know momma is near and you are in danger. Get away quickly.

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And in your getaway, try running in a zig-zag pattern. I don’t know if that actually works as I’ve never tried it. But, my first grade health class was certainly confident that it would. Yes, they actually used to teach us that in school. To the amusement of the alligators, I’m sure.

Any new captains out there providing vessels and gear to guide some folks lucky enough to have drawn a tag, I have a bit of advice for you. Have your clients pony up the additional $56.00 to declare you an agent on their tag. Otherwise if you cast a rod, hold a line, load the bang stick or in any way participate in the harvest, you will be in violation of the law and Mr. Game Warden, with his night vision goggles just might be watching. They have little sense of humor about such things.

Be safe out there on and about the water; don’t let that ornery old gator wreck your summer fun!
If you have any questions or comments about this week’s column, feel free to give me a shout at [email protected]. God Bless, and good hunting!

Toby Benoit
Toby Benoit
Toby Benoit is a best selling novelist and professional outdoorsman with thirty-five years of experience guiding and outfitting for big game all across America. Toby is a renowned archer and turkey hunting expert who manufactures custom game calls and is a regular judge at NWTF sanctioned turkey calling events across the Southeast.
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