Gator wranglin’ in the summer heat
When I was a kid, my dad was very fond of using the old line “do as I say, not as I do,” especially when telling stories of all the reckless things he did as a child.
Well, now it’s my turn.
As the sports calendar winds down for the summer and the weather warms up, kids will be playing outside and finding ways to pass the time before school starts back up again in August. That puts the kids in contact with Mother Nature and all of her dangerous animals.
Just last week in Hood County a man survived a rattlesnake bite. The last few times I’ve been back home down in South Texas, I’ve seen alligators sunning themselves on the golf course.
Most people will shy away from engaging with these creatures, and now that I’m older and wiser, I believe I would as well. But that was not always the case.
Back in junior high, my friends and I discovered that an alligator, around 4 feet long or so, had made its home in the pond behind our house where we used to swim and fish. That was unacceptable to us, and so we decided to do something about it.
We were going to capture that gator.
We commandeered a small metal rowboat and set sail on the pond. There were four of us on the boat: Karson, Randy, Cole and myself.
Cole, having the longest arms and no regard for his own safety, was going to pounce from the boat onto the gator. Randy, being the oldest, wielded a long pole with a makeshift noose attached to the end, which he would slip around the snout of the beast. Karson and I – the youngest, and also the ones smart enough to not get in the water with an alligator – were there to row the boat.
It is here that I should point out that our parents never once told us that this was a bad idea. They had full knowledge of our stupendously doomed plan, and I think they were secretly just glad to get us out of the house for once, even if it did mean we were risking losing a finger or two.
The operation required silence, as the gator would slip under the water if we made too much noise. Karson and I took our time, paddling softly and going around the backside of the animal so it wouldn’t be spooked by our oars.
Cole sat perched on the front of the boat, ready to make his move. We could normally draw within 10 feet of the gator, but Cole, who possesses one of the louder voices this side of the Pecos, would inevitably let an expletive fly under his breath and send our foe scurrying under the water.
That set off a whole new round of moaning and bickering, and Karson and I would have to paddle back over to the dock and regroup while Randy, the self-appointed captain, told us what we were doing wrong. Tensions were high, which is not something you want when you’re trying to wrangle an alligator in a rowboat.
We kept at it for a week or so, but we never could line everything up just right. Cole never even made it into the water to start the wrangling process.
Eventually, I think someone else on our street just got fed up and shot the alligator. It was probably for the best.
The brains behind our little operation have all gone on to do great things. Karson’s in law school, Randy’s in med school, Cole played college baseball and helps run a business, and I’m ... here. But for a solid week, we were dumb kids in our early teens trying and failing to take on Mother Nature.
Do as I say, not as I do.