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My gator hunt with Respect Outdoors

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/25/2011 at 23:25
RifleDude View Drop Down
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As many of you are aware, I won a free gator hunt/ fishing trip with Robert Arrington's Respect Outdoors through a drawing on the Burris Eliminator fan page on Facebook.  The trip took place this past Thurs, 7/21 through Sun, 7/24, and I just returned home this afternoon, so I wanted to share my experience with you.

I had a great time!

Robert said I could bring a guest, so I asked for volunteers among my fellow OT members, and Andrew Bradley, a.k.a. "Helo18" agreed to go.  I met Andy at the Orlando airport Thurs afternoon where Robert and his cameraman, Thane Piatt, picked us up.  Immediately after leaving the airport, we headed for a beautiful piece of property surprisingly close to Orlando to go hog hunting.  The property is leased by one of Robert's friends, Cannon, who joined us.  We didn't see any hogs, but the place is loaded with deer, and we saw a few nice bucks in velvet.  Afterward, we headed to Robert's hometown of Jupiter, FL.

Robert lives right next to the coast, so the next morning, we headed a few miles out to do some offshore fishing.  Prior to heading out, we stopped at the local marina to gas up and get something for lunch, where I watched Robert catch a pelican by hand as he posed for pics with some of his fans!  Once we got out into the water and I watched Robert at work, It was quickly evident that he really knows his s*** when it comes to fishing!

After Robert netted some bait fish, we headed to some of his favorite fishing areas.  We caught several nice sized bonitos (which are fun to catch, but aren't good table fare...though they make great shark bait!).  Andy caught a remora, also known as a "suckerfish," an unusual and fairly uncommon fish usually seen clinging to sharks.  We hooked into something big while drift fishing, likely a shark, but it got off.  I caught a nice sized amberjack, which we brought in for dinner.  I also caught about a 30 lb shark... sort of.  We lost it just as we got it up to the boat.  Then, we hooked into another big fish while drifting, so I put on the fighting belt and took the rod.  I fought that thing for 45 minutes and several times during the battle, I honestly didn't think we were going to get it to the boat.  Robert displayed some masterful boat maneuvering while I fought the big fish until finally we managed to bring it in.  It turned out to be a huge Goliath Grouper, which Robert estimated at 300 lbs!  It was by far the biggest fish I'd ever caught, and I've done quite a bit of deep sea fishing, ever since I was about 14.  We couldn't legally keep it, so Robert dove in with his mask and fins and swam the fish down to recompress its air bladder.  Robert is hard core!   

That evening, Robert demonstrated that he's a damn good cook as well, as he prepared a feast of fried fish, fish cakes, seasoned veggies, and his excellent fish dip!

The next morning, (Sat), we went out fishing again.  This time the water was quite a bit rougher than the previous day.  Andy hooked into a tremendously large fish and fought it for awhile, but it broke the line.  Since we were using whole bonito on a huge hook as bait, in all probability, it was a large hammerhead shark.  Whatever it was, it gave Andy all he could handle while the fight lasted.  We caught a few more bonitos and came in to fish in the inlet close to Robert's place.  We got into a school of snook, where we all caught several nice sized ones.

That evening, we went alligator hunting at the Box Ranch, where we met up with Cliff Burg, a good friend of Robert's who runs the ranch.  The Box Ranch has huge orange groves surrounded by many irrigation canals and ponds full of gators.  I had no idea how to gator hunt, so I had to defer to Cliff and Robert's experience here.  The way the property was laid out, with the long, narrow irrigation channels, the most effective way to hunt gators there was to drive alongside the channels to find gators, then stalk within shooting range.  Since we were using a crossbow with a bowfishing bolt tied to a cable, shots had to be really close -- within 20 yds or so, since the bolt had no fletching, and the cable had a significant influence on the bolt's flight. 

Due to the heavy rain they had in the weeks prior, the grass around the ponds and channels had grown up very high and the water was high, making it far more difficult to find gators.  The evening started out promising when we ran into a small gator running along the ranch road.  We stopped and Robert managed to catch the little gator (did I say he's pretty hard-core?).  We saw a few other small gators and spotted one big gator in a pond.  We crawled to the edge of the pond, but the big gator had vanished.  We waited it out as Robert and Cliff tried calling the gator, but we didn't see it again. 

This is when the evening took a very bad turn for the worse.  As we were crossing an expanded metal bridge next to a pump house over an irrigation channel, Robert discovered the hard way that the end of the bridge didn't quite reach the opposite side of the channel, and the gap between the bridge and the opposite embankment was concealed by tall grass.  As a result, he fell off the edge of the bridge and in the process, a sharp, unprotected edge of the expanded metal caught the top of his right foot and cut a deep gash down to bones along the entire length of the top of his foot to his big toe.  Obviously, that put an abrupt halt to the hunt for that evening.  We went back to Cliff's house and tried to clean out the laceration, bandaged it up, and Andy, Thane, and I rushed him to the ER.  Robert lost a LOT of blood, to the point he nearly passed out.  We got in really late that evening, and Robert returned the next morning on crutches, with his foot stitched and bandaged up.

Nevertheless, we still went out gator hunting that afternoon!  Robert was determined to put me on a gator.  Before going out to hunt, we shot his 7mag topped with the Burris Eliminator scope to verify zero.  We were planning to use the rifle if we weren't able to get within crossbow range of a decent sized gator.  The Eliminator is a nice scope, and I can report it does work as advertised.  It has a much larger form factor than I would prefer, but the technology is very nice, and it works very well.  I expect to see other scopes incorporating rangefinder and ballistic compensating illuminated dots in the very near future.

To make a long story short, I finally got my gator with the crossbow during the last hour of the last night of my hunt, and Robert managed to hobble alongside us, with his bandaged foot enclosed in a plastic garbage bag!  Cliff and Robert did a masterful job of keeping the gator in view by calling it with some realistic sounding gator "grunts," or whatever their vocalization is called.  They didn't use a call of any sort (I'm not sure if anyone even makes a gator call), but instead mimicked the gator sounds with their voices.  It sounded pretty realistic to me, and obviously to the gators as well, as I witnessed first hand.  My shot was broadside at about 15 yards in a farm pond choked up with weeds... and as we quickly found out, fire ants and mosquitoes as well!  If we had spent another 5 minutes next to that pond, I swear, we may have needed a blood transfusion from all the mosquito bites!

After we hauled the gator back to Cliff's house, we enjoyed some of his wife, Leilani's excellent cooking and told hunting stories!  It was a great end to a great trip!

Andy is a super great guy, and I'm very thankful he was able to join me on the hunt.  I had a lot of fun hanging out with him. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/25/2011 at 23:37
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Thanks for the story Ted!

Sounds like you and Helo had a great time.  I hope Robert recovers fully, and soon.  I have been watching his show lately, and his personality is incredible!

Great Job!


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/25/2011 at 23:41
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Thanks Ted Congratulations Buddy.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/25/2011 at 23:47
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By the way, it wasn't the big gator we were looking for.  It was only 7 1/2 ft long.  However, it was the last hour of the last evening of the hunt, so it was a now or never deal.  I had never killed an alligator before, so I didn't care that it wasn't a trophy.  It was still a trophy to me after all we'd been through to find one.  I can't wait to get the meat and tanned hide back! 

It was a great trip, and I feel very fortunate to have won it!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/25/2011 at 23:48
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 04:13
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Great tale and great telling, Ted.  I'm very glad Andy got to go with you, very glad you got your gator.  ( the song "Polk Salad Annie" comes to mind).  I'm also very glad Robert is OK and hope he makes a full recovery with no after effects.  "Pain heals, chicks dig scars... glory lasts forever"
 
Sounds like a lot of fun. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 06:07
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Excellent Sounds like a great trip.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 06:41
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 06:43
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 07:10
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 07:13
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Thanks for sharing your story Ted, I'm looking forward to the pictures and the airing of the show.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 09:44
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Sounds like you had fun!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 10:17
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Great write up Ted, thanks.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 10:44
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RifleDude,

I hope you have some more adventures because if it was half much fun as your post it must been one h*** (heck) of a time.

 

Thanks for the excellent hunting story.

dsr
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 11:00
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Sounds like a great time.   When is it supposed to air?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 11:06
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Only 7.5'....Shocked
 
I hope it wasn't his "good" foot that got injured.  Crutch
 
Really sounds like y'all had a great time.
 
Excellent
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 11:43
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Great write up Ted!
But you know No Pics
And when does the show air?
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 12:55
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Where's Helo? I want to hear his side of the story,
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 13:45
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he's recovering from "teddy bear" and the heat got to him....too.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 17:04
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Sounds like you guys had a ball.  Thanks for sharing your adventure.  Excellent
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 18:37
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Ted, you Sir are a master story teller, my friend! I felt like I was there. 

Letting go of 300 lbs of grouper meat 'bout made me cry, I must admit.  Wink
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 19:24
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Great read!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 19:40
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Thanks for sharing Ted, Congrats on first gator and looking forward to pictures Smile
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 19:47
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PICS!!! Big Smile
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/26/2011 at 20:11
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Thunbs Up
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