OUTDOORS

Thrasher boys say: ‘Game over’ for gator

TINA HARBUCK
The gator, bagged by Zack and Eric Thrasher, quickly drew a crowd on the docks Thursday afternoon. Folks were snapping photos and some even ventured to touch it.

When a boat captain calls Fishing Fleet Marina and says “we're coming in with something to weigh," it's usually a big fish —but not on Thursday.

Capt. Eric Thrasher and his son Zack came backing in with a big gator curled up in the bed of the pickup.

The 11-foot gator, that soon drew a crowd as word spread on the docks, tilted the scales at 333 pounds.

FOR MORE GATOR PHOTOS, click here.

"We got him right before daylight," Eric said. "It probably took about an hour-and-a-half to get him in … after he about turned the boat over."

The two along with Courtney Coffield headed just north of DeFuniak Springs early Thursday morning to capture a gator that Eric had seen the day before in a little pond, about the size of a half football field, while scouting out a deer hunting lease.

"I was by myself yesterday and didn't have my harpoon, didn't have my treble hook and I didn't have my tags with me," Eric said.

Eric and Zack put in the 10-foot Jon boat and Coffield stayed on the bank to shoot video.

Once the boat hit the water, Eric said the gator went down and was bubbling.

"It looked like a diver down there bubbling … I'd never seen them bubble before."

They eased over to him and Zack poked him with a harpoon but it came off. The gator moved over and was still bubbling.

Zack stuck him again, this time it took and the gator took them for a ride.

"He drug us around in the boat all over the pond," Zack said.

"I thought it was going to tip the boat over, because he was coming up and hitting the bottom of the boat. You could look down and see his mouth every once in a while, and he'd come up and hit it again.

"The pond is only about waist deep … and in that 10-foot boat he's right underneath you," he said.

Zack said the gator drug them around for about 45 minutes.

When he tried to pull the gator up to get a shot at it, because the boat was so small, "it wouldn't come up like normal. It would pull the boat right on top of it."

The gator started heading toward shore, near where Coffield was standing videoing.

"The gator went straight toward her and it popped up," Zack said.

"He popped up literally about 5-feet in front of me … showed his face, looked me in the eye," Coffield said.

"It was mad. But luckily it was in shallow water," Zack said.

Coffield stepped out of the way and Zack shot it with a .223 caliber bangstick.

"His leg popped up in the water and he rolled over on his side," Coffield said.

Eric and Zack drug the gator out of the water with the truck and loaded him up and headed back to Destin.

Thrasher says he has one more gator tag, but has no plans to use it soon.

For now it's "game over gator," Eric said.