For July 2017, Hen Outdoors chose Brooke Benham Wright's photo as the profile picture of the month. This is the story behind the photo.
We left the boat ramp at sunset and headed into a daunting swampland. I won’t lie, I was a little nervous about being unacquainted in a foreign waterway in the cloak of darkness. As the sun set, the swamp came alive. First, I could smell a powerful musk scent of the swamp. Then the sounds: everything was loud. Frogs and crickets just barely drowned out the buzzing of mosquitoes swarming. This place was teaming with life in ways most visitors will never see or experience.
For seven hours we slowly zig-zagged our boat up a maze of waterways scanning the water for red eyes. Time after time, we saw the reflection of a red eye only to have it slowly submerge into the deep water. These alligators were spooky and wise to hunters. Gators can hold their breath underwater for an hour and it can really test your patience. Hour after hour, we searched, and I hadn’t had the chance to pull back my bow, yet.
Then, a large eye crossed the waterway and stopped at the edge of some mangroves trees. We cut the motor and slowly paddled the boat closer. Less than 100 yards away, the bottom of the boat pushed up onto a shallow bar. It was too shallow. Immediately, Matt jumped in the water and told me to grab my bow. He said we were going on foot and I smiled at him, thinking he was surely joking.
Anyone who knows Matt would not be surprised by his ambitious hunting skills. Dubbed the “Jungle Warrior” from his recent survival in the Amazon jungle, Matt is a favorite on Discovery’s Naked and Afraid show. He was the only survivalist to single-handedly take a big game animal in the shows history.
He simply smiled back and told me to stay on the boat and be ready. I’m pretty brave and confident, but wasn’t ready to take on a gator in waist deep water!
I held the spotlight. He walked out with nothing but a strong fishing pole with a weighted hook. As he stalked up closer to the gator, it was clear he intended to hook the beast and fight him out of the shallows. I anxiously watched the eyes of the gator. At one point it turned and headed towards him only to drop below the water.
Matt cast towards the area the gator went down and then, his rod bent as he set the hook. Surprisingly, there was no action on the other end. I assumed he hooked a log until I noticed him running back to the boat with his line slack. The gator decided he was not going for this trick and decided to charge up the line.
From hunter to hunted, Matt yelled, "Get ready to shoot!"
[To be continued...]