Each year I try to setup a few hunts where I bring family members along on hunts with me. There are a couple reasons for this. First, I feel like it's a great way to say thanks for all the years they made an effort to take me along on hunts when I was a kid.
Second, I’m not around very much and this can be a great way to spend quality time with my mom, dad and brother that wouldn’t normally happen in the fall because of my rigorous schedule. Third, I can’t even explain the joy it gives me to see my own family experience something for the first time. I still absolutely live for hunting, but it really makes me smile to see their excitement.
This spring I was able to take my dad on a bear hunt in Alaska and we had an amazing trip together in the back country. I knew this is a hunt my mom wouldn’t care for as it’s usually cold, wet, in a remote location with no running water or amenities. It’s not that my mom needs a five-star lodge, but she’s not a big fan of being cold and sometimes miserable…so I figured I would find something more enjoyable for her. Last year I brought her to the Sandhills of Nebraska on a spot and stalk mule deer hunt where she shot a beautiful buck with her rifle. The year before that, she came with me to Montana where she was able to take her first ever antelope…so I was trying to decide what would be something fun for her this season.
My solution was perfect. I invited her to join me on a South Carolina gator hunt where I hunt with two of the nicest people you could ever find. Mendell and Tyler not only know a ton about alligators and have great places to hunt, but they truly are wonderful people. Alligator hunting has always been one of my top hunts and there are a couple reason for this. It’s a low-stress hunt in a game rich environment. You will literally see hundreds of alligators, so if you miss one it’s really not a big deal. The next part I enjoy is the fact that most hunts are in the afternoon going late into the night. I’m way more of a night owl than a morning person so I enjoy this part too! Lastly, it’s a social hunt where you can talk, laugh and enjoy the company of those around you, so I
thought this would be an absolutely perfect for my mom and me this year.
When I first asked her about coming on the hunt she seemed a little reluctant. She wasn’t too keen on the idea of going out into a gator and snake infested swamp hunting for big alligators, but I finally convinced her it would be a blast. I told her in all the years I’ve hunted, very seldom do we see snakes and it’s not really that spooky. However, the first day we were doing a little hunting in the afternoon with rifles and as she was looking in her scope she said, “Melissa…there’s a huge snake going across the water!” I zoomed in with the camera and sure enough it was a huge water moccasin gliding across the open water, but at least it was a couple hundred yards from us. Bad news is, now she had snakes on the brain!
That evening we went out and she ended up shooting several alligators with her bow and she was having so much fun I didn’t want her streak to end. We were hunting private land and had nuisance tags so she was able to take several each night. In fact, my mom ended up with 7 alligators and went 3 for 3 with perfect shots to start out the hunt!
I decided she would do the bow hunting and I’d take the rifle during the day in hopes of stalking a big gator and that’s exactly what we did. The second day in Tyler spotted a nice big alligator off the shore and we stalked up, got in position and I made a perfect brain shot. Many people think shooting alligators would be easy, but it’s actually extremely precise shooting. When we pulled it out of the water we were all in amazement at how big this gator was and what a fighter he was! He had scars all over his body and we even noticed his entire lower jaw was missing from fighting other gators so that was something I had never seen before.
As we were wrapping up the hunt, you could just see the excitement in mom’s eyes as we took the gators to the processor. We had a ton of alligator meat, and my parents are planning to throw an alligator feed for our friends and family in the near future. The trip was not only a blast, but my mom and I got to catch up on some quality time together doing what we both love and that was out hunting and trying new things. Now my mom isn’t just a big buck hunter, but an amazing gator hunter too!