By: Joe Elly
Sitting at the edge of a swamp full of gators was once commonplace for Alligator Bob.
A fourth-generation Floridian, Bob has spent the majority of his life chasing and capturing nuisance alligators for the Florida Game ..chasing and capturing nuisance alligators..Commission. He first started working as a volunteer liaison nearly 20 years ago.
After gaining first-hand knowledge, he travelled to the Pacific Rim to work as a crocodile management specialist, travelling with his wife, Ellen. Together, the couple visited exotic New Guinea and Australia, helping those governments to manage a sustainable crocodile population. Their travels took them to the deepest reaches of Australia’s outback, Cape York.
“It was very hostile. Everywhere you looked there was something that could kill you if you weren’t careful!”
Back at home, the couple worked for the state’s Alligator Nuisance Program—24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year—removing gators from areas where fearful humans had invaded their habitat. They captured and processed around 350 to 400 gators a year for nearly eight years.
Bob’s job was to either trap or wrestle the gators, tie them up and deliver them to Ellen so she could skin and process them.
But after a very close call with a 973-pound gator, Alligator Bob made a decision.
“I underestimated his size. I jumped on his back, and he rolled over on top of me. Lucky for me, he rolled back on his belly before I expired. I underestimated his size.. I got him under control after a few moments and was able to take him to see Ms. Ellen. After that, I walked away from the program.”
After that experience, Bob trademarked the name “Alligator Bob”—he had earned it—and started up Alligator Bob’s Gourmet Alligator. He had a feeling that tourists would love to have a fist full of gator sticks in one hand and a sack of oranges in the other. In fact, he worked with the University of Florida Meat Science department to develop the product.
Alligator Bob’s has grown to offer other game snack sticks and jerky, such as venison and wild boar. His newest claim to fame is “Most preferred meat stick and jerky for tourist destinations in the southeast U.S.” It sounds safer to me!
For more information, call 813-986-3008 or visit www.gatorbob.com.