This year, when I received my gator tags issued by FWC, I decided to hire an expert guide. We hooked up with Central Florida Trophy Hunts and they exceeded our expectations. Nestled in the back woods of Cocoa, Florida, this family run business does it all. They guide, process meat, coordinate taxidermy and more. Before our evening was over, they would also provide chocolate chip cookies, help us find our missing truck keys, entertain us with stories, educate us on gator hunting and help us harvest two awesome gators. To top it off, when we arrived at their office, they greeted us in their Wroxx Blackout shirt and Wroxx lady’s blue tee shirt. The Wroxx Blackout shirt is made for gator hunting. In the “Guide to Hunting Alligators in Florida” published by the FWC, it states:
Yes, the color clothes you have
on can make a difference, and it is recommended to wear darker-colored clothes, so
you can blend in better with the night sky
My son flew in from Texas and was the first to try his hand as the “hunter”. My brother and I took our positions behind Grayson, who owns Central Florida Trophy Hunts with his wife Mindy, and who operated the air boat with absolute precision and confidence. Taylor sat in front of the driver with a cross bow in hand. The cross bow had a green laser sight and a strong string attached to the bolt which was attached to a float.
We glided over dark water with a slight degree of apprehension and a large degree of adrenaline. I was very familiar with Florida lakes having grown up here, but being on an air boat on a moonlit night with yellow/red eyes staring back at you from every direction couldn’t help but make one wonder which would be the correct way to swim if you ended up in the water.
We agreed that the smallest gator we would harvest had to be at least 8 foot and within 30 minutes, we were on one. Grayson, took charge and directed Taylor in the steps required. First a bolt from the crossbow followed by a harpoon, both of which had small ropes attached. Finally, Taylor got his 8 footer close to the boat. A bang stick finished the job and soon his gator was in the boat.
Now it was my turn to sit up front in the hunter’s chair. I did not want to keep everyone on the water all night so told Grayson I would like to get at least a 9 footer, but that if we did not see one in the next 20 minutes, I would settle for an 8 footer also. Like a snake that continues to writhe after it has been killed, Taylor’s gator slapped my thigh twice with its tail while we were hunting for my gator. I was surprised at how much strength it still had.
Ten minutes later and he had us on what he thought could be a big gator. We could not see him but we tracked his bubbles back and forth trying to get in position to get a treble hook in him. Finally, it was set hard and we were off to the races. The heavy duty rod and reel with at least 200 pound test line, bent over almost in half. The air boat was pulled to and fro before we were able to get another treble hook in him. We still had not seen him but were convinced he was big. When part of his tail surfaced, I placed the green laser in position and shot the bolt.
Now with three tethers to the gator, we were much more confident that we would not lose him. When his head slowly began to surface however, I was astounded by his size. It was eerily spooky enough that when I saw it, I missed the harpoon thrust. We decided to go right to the bang stick. I was right on the money this time and soon the fight was over.
Getting the gator in the boat was our next challenge. This is when we realized that we had something really big. He did not fit in the air boat and had to be hung partially over the side to get him back to shore. Turns out he was 11’3″!!
We got back to their office and took care of all the business aspects of the trip such as registering the harvest with the state and making all the decisions regarding the meat and hide. Then we realized I had lost the keys to my truck. We looked everywhere to no avail. Finally, the owner’s son agreed to give us a ride back to our hunting camp about 30 minutes away with a quick detour to the long dirt road where we put the air boat in the lake just in the off chance that the keys had fallen out of my pocket. Unbelievably, my son found them in the grass on the side of the road close to where we launched.
We had a great adventure with Central Florida Trophy Hunts. They surpassed my expectations and we recommend them without hesitation. Our Wroxx Blackout performance shirts also worked like a charm. They helped keep us cool and helped protect us from the bugs. I just wish I would have used the hidden pocket for my keys instead of for my phone.