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In August of 2006 my wife and I, both devoted Snowbirds, took a trip to South Carolina to view our retirement property lot that we had purchased a year before. After we arrived and settled in, I decided to backtrack and do a little fishing at a small Georgia dock located on the Turtle River, off Highway 17. I placed my fishing gear on the dock and decided to try some crankbait casting. I cast out several times and received no hits. I changed bait to live minnow and tried again. Shortly thereafter, my fishing line started to go slack. Well, I thought the current was returning my line, so I reeled in the jig but it was caught on the pilings. Thinking no big deal, I reached down to get the jig and before I could take in another breath, I was grabbed and pulled in the water by a large alligator. Immediately, the gator headed for deeper water. It was an attempt to drown me in a death roll.
In my right hand was a knife I had found at a Goodwill-sponsored flea market for 10 dollars. I purchased it because the knife had a finger hole as part of the handle. I figured the finger hole would make the knife harder to lose in water. Well, that finger hole saved my life. Just before the attack, I had been cutting bait into long thin strips for a second hook on the jig. I am no stranger to the South and I know there are few vulnerable spots on an alligator to stab.
I knew death was imminent if I did not do something quickly. I was able to take in some air while being dragged past the mud flats to deeper water. At that moment, I pulled myself closer to the large mouth that held my arm and began to stab at the gator’s eyes. I missed both times. It felt like stabbing concrete. I do not know how, but I managed to stab the gator directly through the snout, the softest part of its head. The huge beast released me and I took the opportunity to escape. When I looked back, the gator stopped thrashing and swam away with my knife deep in its snout.
I made it to the bank and crawled to hard ground. I got into my car and drove to the hospital. One year and 20 stitches later, along with plenty of antibiotics, all was well.
Several weeks later at a knife show, and at the table of a knife dealer, I made a sketch and described the knife that saved my life. The dealer told me that the sketch I had made was obviously a Sabertooth knife, made by Jefferson Spivey. He gave me Spivey’s web address. Low and behold, the knife that gator got away with was exactly the same as the knives on the web page. In time, I certainly plan to replace that knife and on the sheath an inscription will read: “Friend or Foe! I will let you know—use me wisely.”
Note from Jefferson Spivey, the maker of this knife:
I received this story by email on Wednesday November 7, 2007. The author, Al Smith, is a Vietnam veteran who staunchly prefers anonymity. However, because the event, which could have ended in death was so stark and dramatic, and could be a helpful warning to others; Al agreed to let his story be known.
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