Since 1948, there have been more than 275 unprovoked alligator attacks on humans in Florida, of which at least 17 resulted in death. There were only nine fatal attacks in the U.S. throughout the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, but alligators killed 12 people between 2001 and 2007. In May 2006, alligators killed three Floridians in less than a week.
Those statistics were the furthest from my mind as I sat cross-legged with my elbows resting on my knees in the bow of a slowly moving jon boat. Trying to paint the gator’s eye with the EOTech MRDS as he floated motionless 20 yards away, I slapped the trigger on the .223 Molot Vepr sending a mini-geyser of coffee-colored water into the air. The gator thrashed, spun, rolled and jetted toward the bank all in one blurred motion. Obviously hit, we followed the gator’s bubble trail and started trying to pull him to the surface with a snag pole.
This was the second gator I had tried to kill in the past 30 minutes with the Russian-made AK-style Vepr, and I was certain that the folks featured on the hit cable show Swamp People made it look so much easier. I had even gone to the effort to visit with gator hunting royalty to get their opinions on gator guns and any other advice they were willing to share.