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Later for this gator; Local residents go after the big game

Friday, November 30, 2012

If there's one thing experienced hunter Scott Engstrom has to say about hunting alligator it might well be, "It wants to eat you as much as you want to eat it."

Engstrom, who began hunting white-tail deer , raccoons and coyotes as a young boy, this September shared an alligator hunting expedition in Louisiana with his two sons, Brayden Engstrom, 10, and Taylor Engstrom, 13, and his father-in-law, Rick Tucker.

Engstrom, who works as a hunting guide at Petersburg Outfitters near Uniontown, said he got a phone call from a friend, Mike Landry, who works as a guide for alligator hunts and decided to go to southern Louisiana on vacation to hunt the swamp beasts.

Scott Engstrom holds the mouth of an alligator open during a hunt with his sons, Brayden Engstrom, 10, bottom right, and Taylor Engstrom, 13, top left, and his father-in-law, Rick Tucker, last September in Louisiana. The nine-foot 400-pound gator was shot by 10-year-old Brayden Engstrom.
(Submitted Photo)
"I shot mine with a bow and the boys did the traditional hook and line," Engstrom said.

Engstrom said the hook and line method involves a large hook, about 6 inches long with bait on it that hangs just above the water with about 30 feet of line that is tied to a tree.

"The chicken hangs out of the water and they come up to eat it and then you pull them up and shoot them with a .22," Engstrom said. "If you pull them up slow, they don't fight you too much and you just shoot them in the head."

Engstrom shot the biggest gator on the trip, an 11-foot 600-pound alligator, with his bow.

"There is not enough caution that can be used," Engstrom said. "Because when you pull them to the surface, their jaws are snapping. That 11-footer, we couldn't even bring him into the boat," Engstrom said. "We had to tie him to the side of the boat to get him to the bank."

The foursome also shot two nine-footers weighing about 400 pounds, including one by his 10-year-old son Brayden.

He said they hunted for about two and a half days.

"You have to apply for an alligator helper's permit and you have to go with a licensed alligator hunter as a guide," Engstrom said.

He said landowners can lease rivers and swamps for hunting and are allowed a certain amount of alligator tags per acre. He added that when alligator hunts are conducted the people who run them make their money with the hide and the meat, while the hunter receives the stuffed heads.

He said they will be getting theirs back in about three to four months.

Engstrom said he would definitely like to hunt alligators again and noted his boys loved the experience and want to go back with him.

"It's something different," Engstrom said. "The Asian carp jumping out of the water, trying to knock you out of the boat -- we'd get up early in the morning and go hang lines, but first we would check the ones we baited the night before and re-bait them."

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