Not getting to sleep after 4-am made us all sleep in past daylight. However, at 9:00 we were getting in David’s truck to drive into Arcadia. The first thing on our agenda was eating breakfast at a place called the Clock (mediocre food, indifferent service). It happens sometimes.

Afterward we went to Wal-Mart and stocked up on flashlight batteries and the little round batteries for my bowsight light. Then we went to David Miull’s Struttn’ Ruttn’ Reelln’ store and got his last spool of 400# test bowfishing line.

When we returned to the lodge Fred rigged all our bowfishing reels with the 400# line and we shot a few arrows. This lighter line came out of the reel without any drag. Problem solved.

Fred Lutger switches our bowfishing line to the 400# test line. Now we are ready for another day on the channels.

Today we were hunting on Airboats. Joe Porto and Marty Winters were our airboat captains. While visiting with Marty it was obvious that he had years of alligator hunting experience. When he mentioned that he had caught them live before, I thought “better him than me”. (When I was a kid in Florida I caught a 4 footer once and it beat the heck out of me with its tail. I didn’t want any more of that.)

Marty Winters backs his airboat up to the water.

Once the airboats were in the water we loaded our bows and Muzzy bowfishing gear and flashlights (for later).

Fred Lutger went with Marty and David Mills. Chef Klaus (Mike Ditchler) and I went with Joe Porto.

Fred sits at the front of the airboat watching for alligators in the channel ahead.

Mike Ditchler (Chef Klause), Joe Porto and myself beginning our gator hunt by airboat.

It didn’t take long to start seeing alligator heads in the channel water. My 3 previous alligator bowhunts with David Mills were in big lakes at night in an airboat. Things were very different in the daylight. When we had spotted an alligator at night before we had moved on them quickly. That didn’t work good in the daytime.  If we raced up to them we would be starring at gatorless water.

We only got a couple of shots in the channels. But the channels weren’t what David and Marty had in mind for us anyway.

Our intended destination was the swamps and marshes. They were impossible to hunt by foot or truck but duck soup via airboat. Marty and Joe worked the wetlands, constantly watching for alligators.

When one was spotted our airboat captains slowed the boat down and cut the engine so we could drift quietly toward the gator.

One of the alligators we saw in the swamps

Something that surprised me was how many deer we saw in the mashes. There were lots of bucks, does and fawns. And another surprise was how big they were, much heavier that the ones where I had hunted as a kid.

One of the alligators Marty drifted up on was this one. A young gator.

When Marty hopped down from his driver’s seat and walked to the edge of the airboat I thought, “he’s gonna do it.”


Marty was in the water. Chef yelled, “What is he doing.” But I knew what was up, he had jumped right on top of that alligator.

Marty wrestles to get a hold on the surprised alligator.


Marty stood up and held the alligator up for us to see. Wow.

Marty holds the gators jaws shut and yanks him out of the water.

He gave the alligator a short, head forward toss into the reeds when he was ready to let the alligator go. Marty got back in his airboat and we went on our way.

While our daylight airboat adventure in the swamps was very exciting it didn’t get any of our Muzzy Gator arrows to hook up with any alligators.

But at 11:23 tonight that was going to change.


  • We are bowhunting Florida Alligators at Williams Wildlife Preserve near Arcadia, Florida. For information contact David Mills at 863-303-4726. Visit David on the web at

  • This alligator bowhunt is sponsored by MUZZY Bowfishing Equipment. We received Muzzy Gator Getter Kits with gator arrows, bowfishing reels and line, floats and other necessities. Visit them on the web at