|Published:||Sep 14, 2012 11:22 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Sep 14, 2012 11:41 PM EDT|
LAKEPORT, Fla. - It's a dangerous job, but someone has to do it. This time of year, hunters in Florida play a crucial role in controlling the growing alligator population. We went out on Lake Okeechobee to see what it takes.
They scour the swamps and lakes, studying the dark water, looking for two glassy eyes staring back.
"This is my harpoon here. When you stick it in the gator, it pops off," hunter Skip Walker said, displaying his tools.
Walker has hunted alligators since he was 17. He knows something as subtle as a trail of bubbles can mean and alligator is hiding below.
He's hunting as part of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission's statewide alligator harvest. Each year, FWC determines how many gators can be safely harvested from each area.
Those awarded permits can take up to two alligators.
"I reel it up 'til I feel him touch it, then I set the hook on him, and then all hell breaks loose," Walker said, preparing his pole.
It's estimated there are more than a million adult alligators in the state of Florida. "What we do is on a recreational basis, so there are a lot more rules," Walker said.
It's a sport that requires patience and intuition. We spotted half a dozen alligators, and came awfully close, but left empty-handed.
"I do my part in the conservation area, protecting the gators," Walker said. "I don't just go out to kill them to be killed, I have a purpose for it."
Unfortunately, the gators were a little camera shy on our trip. The recent rain isn't helping hunters see the gators swimming in the water. It's actually caused the level to rise about 2 1/2 feet.
But, there's still plenty of time for hunters to snag a gator. The season wraps up on Nov. 1st.
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