Where Are They Now?
A Tale of Three Gators
people see our gator heads, Lucky I, Lucky II, and Lucky III,
many questions arise about their former lives, the process
they went through to get to this point, and of course, their
demise. So in order to answer these questions we thought
we’d share the tale of our three gators…be sure to read the
Fun Facts at the end.
Lucky I, the 12’2” alligator, was first observed by a
friend during an airboat ride just days before the
opening of gator hunting season. Because of his size,
Captain Doug knew that Lucky I had lived a good long life,
approximately 50-60 years, and ate a
diet of mammals, fish, birds, and smaller alligators. Capt.
Doug discovered his home, a gator hole in the marsh, and
kept an eye on Lucky I until that fateful night.
Around 7:00 one evening, Capt. Doug and his wife took
their airboat, gator
bait, hunting equipment, and a cooler
full of snacks and drinks to the lake in which Lucky I
resided. After much waiting, a couple of short naps, and
more waiting, Lucky I finally took the bait (around 4:00 in
the morning)! He did not come to the boat gracefully, and in
fact the whole scene reminded Doug’s wife of an old Jaws
movie. And after much struggle, waiting, a little more
struggle, and more waiting, Lucky I was the recipient of
Capt. Doug’s first alligator hunting tag of the season.
Tied up next to the boat, they proudly towed their trophy,
body surfing style, to a shallow part of the marsh earning a
few glances from early rising fishermen. It was then that
Capt. Doug and his 100 pound wife realized that they hadn’t
thought ahead as to how to get Lucky I onto their boat. With
a quick phone call (thank God for cell phones), another
couple came to their rescue. Amazingly,
but not easily,
three of them were able to lift the 800 pound alligator onto
the airboat one body part at a time. Upon arrival at the
fish camp they received several accolades. Lucky I even
posed with other airboaters and their family members for
7:00am the next morning, Capt. Doug took his truck and Lucky
I, riding in the airboat on the trailer, to the alligator
processing plant in Christmas, FL. One of Lucky’s dangling
arms appeared to wave to the crowd as traffic stopped and
onlookers gawked at the one float parade going by. After
approximately six weeks, Lucky’s hide was shipped to Italy
tanning process, Lucky’s tail was sent to
restaurants, and Lucky’s head was picked up by Capt. Doug
and now sits on a sofa table in their living room. As you
can see, Lucky I now enjoys all of the holidays at his home
and has been visited by many guests that he might have
Lucky II and Lucky III
II and Lucky III, the 11’10” and 11’2” alligators were a
breeze to capture compared to Lucky I! It all started out as
a late evening cook-out for Capt. Doug and his wife on their
friend’s property by the shore of the lake on which they’d
be hunting. With the airboat geared up and ready, Capt. Doug
began the grilling as his wife and friend chatted and
watched the sunset.
As the stars and moon revealed their power to conquer
darkness, Capt. Doug was making his magic with a few steaks
and beans over a camp fire. Before the steaks were
thoroughly cooked, Doug’s wife noticed movement in the water
near them. Sure enough, two large gators had smelled Doug’s
delicious steaks as well, and were coming for dinner.
Knowing this behavior
atypical for alligators, as alligators have a natural fear
of humans, it was apparent to Capt. Doug that someone had
been feeding these alligators. Although feeding alligators
is against the law, it sure made Capt. Doug’s night of gator
Doug took a short break from his grilling, tossed out
some bait along the shore’s edge in a few spots, and
then went back to grilling. As the three sat eating their
steaks and beans, they watched each gator approach, gobble
down the bait, then swim away. Easy as pie! After dinner and
a quick clean up, Capt. Doug and his wife set out on the
airboat to see just how big these gators were. That’s when
they noticed that another piece of bait had also been
devoured! Because they only
had two hunting tags on this
lake, they now had the fete of choosing the two largest of
the three…one of them would be set free.
a few hours of pulling the gators close to the boat in order
to get a good look at their heads, it was determined that
one of them was around 10 foot and the others were around 11
feet. After securing the two eleven-footers, the ten-footer
was cut loose and probably happy to get a free meal. By this
hunting season, Capt. Doug had figured out how to get the
gators onto the trailer without having to lift them
themselves. This was wise on his part, since his wife was
the same size as the previous hunting season and his friend
was 79 years old.
After they were secured on the trailer, the
alligators took a quick trip to Capt. Doug’s house to meet
his dogs, which barked and sniffed them in fear. Then they
went up to Christmas, FL to the processing plant per
protocol. Again, after a few weeks, their hides went to
Italy for tanning and their tails went
to restaurants. This time, however, Lucky II’s head went to
Cypress Lake Fish Camp for all Capt. Doug’s airboat tour
guests to visit and Lucky III’s head went to the Cypress
Springs Elementary science teacher for students to view and
learn about alligators.
So now that you know the tale of our three gators, be
sure to visit Lucky II and give him a special greeting when
you come to ride on the best airboat tour in Central Florida
with Cypress Lake Airboat Tours! He looks forward to seeing
A FEW ALLIGATOR HUNTING FACTS:
- You may not kill alligators using a gun or a hook.
- You may only kill alligators between sunset and
- The Florida state record for length is a 14 foot 5/8
inch male out of Lake Monroe.
- The Florida state record for weight is a 1,043 pound
male from Orange Lake.
- Since 1988, Florida’s statewide alligator harvest
has been nationally and internationally recognized as a
model program for the sustainable use of a natural
A FEW ALLIGATOR PROCESSING FACTS:
- The alligators are skinned then their skin goes
through a tanning process.
- The prime part of the hide is the belly. The legs
and tail are not ordinarily graded.
- The alligator is touched by more than 20 pairs of
hands on its journey from Marsh to Market. The leather
making process takes several months from start to
finish, but it is only one stage in a trade that
involves hunters, farmers, graders, legislators,
designers, manufacturers, importers, exporters,
marketers, and retailers.
- While the tail meat is the most popular portion to
eat, all meat from the alligator is edible.
- Alligator meat is low in fat and a good source of
omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, Vitamin B12, and high
- For alligator meat recipes go to
A FEW FUN FACTS ABOUT ALLIGATORS:
- Female alligators rarely exceed 9 feet in length.
- Mating occurs in May or June and hatching occurs in
late August or early September.
- Females build a mound nest of soil, vegetation, or
debris and deposit an average of 32-46 eggs.
- Out of the 35 eggs, only 6 alligator hatchlings will
live to one year and only 4 will become mature adults.
- A 12 foot alligator can easily eat a 7 foot