Team Carolina Crazy Outdoors has a knack for finding big gators
Buck Koon of Carolina Crazy Outdoors has guided numerous hunting parties on alligator hunts in the past few years. And that includes multiple double-digit length gators this season. He’s helped hunters kill five big lizards over 10 feet long this season, and two of those measured over 12 feet.
But he’s quick to point out that he hasn’t done it alone.
“My brother Josh — he’s got a better set of eyes on him than anybody I know. And Becca Bowen is often with us. She’s a big help too. People think she’s just there to add humor and scenery (Bowen is the current Miss Bikini Fitness USA). But she helps a lot,” he said.
Koon said time on the water is the biggest ingredient to bagging big gators. And once they spot a big one during a hunt, they have a system that consistently produces results.
“Once we spot a big gator, we’ll get into casting range and I’ll cast a weighted treble hook to it with a rod and reel. It might take a few tries, but once I get that treble hook in it, I’ll hand the rod off to someone in the hunting party. Then I’ll grab another rod and reel and get another hook in the gator. I’ll hand that rod off to another member of the hunting party or to Becca or my brother,” he said.
At this point, Koon isn’t asking those holding the rods to reel the gator in. He just wants them to keep contact with the gator by keeping those lines tight. This helps him see what angle to throw a bigger rope line toward the gator. This line has a bigger treble hook attached.
Tooth marks, bullet hole add character to Koon’s boat
Once he’s tossed the rope line out and feels good about its location, he has the shooter come up front and get prepared. He asks if everyone is ready for a wild ride. Once they all agree, he pulls the rope tight, embedding the big treble into the gator’s hide.
“That’s when the fight really starts. A lot can go wrong right here. These gators are so powerful, they can pull you right in. And having someone with a loaded gun adds to the danger, and not just for the gator,” he said.
Click below to hear the partial interview with Buck Koon from Carolina Crazy Outdoors.
Koon’s Express aluminum boat has scars from both a gator’s toothy attack, and from an errant shot one of his tag holders took at a different gator.
“It just adds to the character of my boat. In all honesty, I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often,” he said.
With the gator now snagged, Koon pulls the rope in as fast as he can. Bowen helps out here, which he said aids him probably more than she even realizes. One of this year’s gators began swimming away from him with such speed that it burned holes straight through his gloves and deeply into his fingers. Without Bowen’s help, he said he couldn’t have stopped that gator.
Time for the head shot
Once the reptile is at the surface, it’s a matter of the gun holder getting a shot in the soft spot behind the gator’s head. This can take some doing, since the gator never cooperates, but is usually spinning quickly, attempting to free itself.
After getting the first shot into a gator’s head, they all breath a sigh of relief. Then they position the gator for one more insurance shot to the head. Next, they tape the gator’s mouth shut and haul it aboard the boat.
Koon can’t overemphasize the importance of patience when hunting big gators.
“I’ve seen people stalk a 12-footer before, miss it on one cast, then crank the outboard and move to another part of the lake when the gator goes under. That’s a big mistake. Finding a big gator is half the battle. Once you’ve got eyes on him, you shouldn’t leave. You can often see where he is by watching for bubbles. And he will come back up. It might be 100 yards away, but at least you’ll still be close enough to see him,” he said.
Click here to read about an epic, three-trophy-gator-day with Buck Koon from last season.