Guide was removing hook from Santee gator when mouth slammed shut
A harvested 9-foot gator clamped down on guide Buck Koon’s hand during a hunt on Santee earlier this week. The gator was already dead, said Koon, but the reflexes of these reptiles often cause unpredictable movements, even after they’re killed.
“I somehow hooked this gator in the mouth,” said Koon.
When throwing out big treble hooks, gator hunters usually hook the beasts in the side, the belly, the tail, or under the mouth. It’s rare to get a hook inside the mouth. But on this hunt, that’s what happened.
It’s traditional practice to tape a gator’s mouth shut with electrical tape once it has been subdued. And for good reason. It avoids a lot of trouble on the boat ride in. The reflexes of a dead gator can cause a lot of damage. Taping the mouth shut diminishes such possibilities.
But in this circumstance, Koon had to remove the hook from the gator’s mouth before he could tape it up. That’s what he was attempting to do when the mouth slammed shut, injuring his fingers. He has killed and handled numerous gators — some more than 13-feet long — in his time. But he said this is a lesson that no matter how experienced you are, you always have to watch what you’re doing.
Koon also said some folks get complacent around gators that are under 10 feet long, and that’s a mistake.
“People think the 11 and 12 footers are the ones you have to watch. But these 8 and 9 footers are as dangerous as any of them,” he said.
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