I'm from Florida, as you know. Florida is home to Alligators, a much maligned animal that generally doesn't deserve such an awful reputation. My brother wrote me to tell me of a recent gator encounter on the beach last night. I'll let him tell the story:
So the kids and I decide to go for a quick walk on the beach last night before homework and dinner...
As we are walking down the beach we see some commotion up ahead and decide to walk down there and see what's going on. As we get close I can see a 7 foot alligator and a guy with a cast net on the freaking beach! This is my second encounter with gators on the beach, the first was surfing on Vilano and a gator swam by outside the line up. This one is equally as weird!
We get up to this gator and you can tell it is very tired from swimming in the ocean, the wind and waves have just beat his butt cause he wants nothing to do with us unless we grab his tail, then he lets us know without question that he is pissed. Tail thrashing, hissing, chomping of the jaws, the whole bit. So a lifeguard comes up to us and while talking to him he says he has to call a trapper who will come and likely kill the gator because it will be seen as a nuisance to humans. So my kids and this other fellas kids start talking about how we should save the gator. So between the kids, tourists and hippy residents down on the beach this guy (Paul) and I become the "gator savers". It's at about this time my kids decide I'm freaking nutz for the plan we hatch.
First attempt is a cast net throw to try and wrap up this gator, Paul had been on the beach fishing with his kids when this gator initially came out of the water. Needless to say a cast net is no match for a 7 foot gator. The net is shredded to pieces instantly. Shit... Plan B. We are going to lasso the gator with the rope from the cast net, So Paul throws a lasso shot and it magically lands on the gators head, the gator snaps back showing he is pissed and the rope slides perfectly down his head and around his neck. A quick twitch of the rope and we now have a rope firmly secured to our hands and a 7 foot gator who doesn't like this new necklace. It's at this point Paul and I looked at each other and without a word give each other the "oh shit" look as now we are firmly attached to this gator meaning we have to really go through with this and "save" the gator!
It's quickly getting dark and we formulate the plan....The marsh directly west of where we have the gator now has apparently dried up. Paul tells me this because he lives in the community we are in front of and they see the marsh on their walk to the beach. So the marsh where we and the kids walk to the beach is clearly still holding standing water and seems like the closest and most logical place to relocate this gator hoping the fresh water and some rest will get him back in good health. To accomplish this goal we have about a ¼ mile walk up the beach then about 200 yards across the soft sand, up the 20 foot sand dunes and down the other side of the dunes to where the marsh will start.
We try "walking" the gator like a puppy so we pull on our rope and he feels the tension, thrashes around a bit, does a couple death rolls and then gets up and starts walking...this works for about 20 feet! Then he lays down and generally gives us the finger, effectively communicating to us that he's not walking anywhere with us freaks!
The lifeguard returns and says the trapper is on the way, so we ask if he thinks the trapper will kill the gator and he says he isn't sure but that would be his guess. We have about 30 minutes he assumes until the cops and the trapper arrive. Our plan is now in hyper drive as we have only made it about 20 feet into the ¼ mile trek. So we start pulling the gator along and taking breaks to rest our legs and let the gator get some air since we are pulling him by the rope around his neck. We pull and pull and pull until we get the ¼ mile up the beach, so we turn west and pull him through the soft sand towards the dunes. About half way we are just beat so we stop for a minute to rest. Paul who is a little on the spacey side as far as paying attention to his surroundings is just haplessly standing about five feet from the gator when it decides its ready to move some more. So I have to grab Paul and pull him away from the gator that has started moving towards Paul's legs while he stares in the other direction completely clueless to the fact that a pissed off gator is creeping up on him from behind! Come on Paul, we are almost there, pay attention!!!
We get back into action at this point and pull him the remaining way towards the dunes. At this point we are going to have to be pretty close to him to get him up the soft sand dunes and over the west side so that he can slide off into the west and towards the fresh water. Struggling with this heavy gator we pull him up the dune which was no small feat thanks to Mr. Gator who at this point neglected to help one damn bit! We drag him up this dune which is pretty large, he is almost to the top and we are kind of in a jam. There is not much room to get around at the top of this dune because there is really only one passage and it's wide enough for two people to walk through, not enough room for two guys and a 7 foot gator.
So our options are leave his ass there and hope he is smart enough and has enough energy to get up the last couple feet on his own or we get a little closer than we want and get him up the top and over the side so he is heading downwards which would surely get him off to a good start of finding fresh water. So we choose option two figuring we have gone this far let's make sure he makes it, we drag him up to the top without incident which is relieving because we are literally just a quick lunge away from being gator candy! We get him to the top just as the cops and trapper show up, they can't see us up in the dunes but the search lights are going back and forth so we have very limited time now. We get a knife from this guys fishing equipment and cut the rope as close as we dare to get to the gators head knowing it will slip off soon as it was an open loop around his neck. The gator still exhausted is just sitting there; he has to get off towards the marsh to make sure he doesn't end up heading back towards the beach and to the trapper who is searching for him. So we try and kick some sand at him, he doesn't care, we yell at him and he doesn't care, so we decide we have to grab his tail to piss him off and make him head into the bushes towards the marsh. Paul is in his spacey mode again and is just standing there next to the gator, so I grab his tail quickly and lift it up a bit and let go, he doesn't care! So I try again and yank his tail this time with some force and that makes him pissed, he starts hissing and slashing his tail around almost taking Paul's leg out, Paul jumps down the dunes and so do I. The gator having had enough of us slides off down the side of the dune and into the grass. Finally!!!
We emerge from the dune and the cops and trapper are still searching for the gator and spots us on the beach. We play dumb and say we saw it but think it got away into the marsh, they say "thanks" and get back to looking, and we escape onto the beach walk. As we start walking up the beach walk we can hear the gator making its way through some underbrush meaning he was heading towards the fresh water and away from the beach. Mission accomplished!
Now the kids that begged us to save the gator decide to harass me the whole walk home saying we are crazy and should not have gotten that close to the gator, I can't believe you did that Dad, I'm never going on another walk with you, etc....
The kids are a little freaked about Gators on the beach now, this summer Emily finally got comfortable with the fact there are crabs at the beach so I'm not sure how long this traumatizing event will take to get over. Thankfully beach season is winding down for them so hopefully they will forget all about it by next spring when it's time to hit the beach again!
So here is a raise of the virtual glass to my brother, newly anointed Gator Wrestler. Thankfully he was able to save the gator's life and also keep all of his limbs.