Milton alligator hunters discover dog tag inside 450-pound gator
The last thing Milton resident Colby Cannon and his buddies thought they would do while on the prowl in the Blackwater River on the first day of alligator hunting season was bring closure to a local family over the loss of a pet dog.
But that's what Cannon and fellow gator hunters Bryan Countryman and Donnie Shear did last weekend, not long after a 45-minute fight with a 12-foot-7-inch, 450-pound gator that they won around 2:30 a.m. Sunday.
In the belly of one of the two beasts they caught Sunday at Marquis Basin — the other being a 7-foot, 120-pound gator — a dog tag was found by the crew's taxidermist.
"They found a dog tag in its body," Cannon said, referring to the larger gator. "There was a (phone) number on it that we called and it was an elderly couple that lost its dog three or four years ago. They didn't know how it happened, obviously, they figured the dog ran away. But when we told (the man). And he seemed pretty relieved, I guess, to know."
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Cannon said the elderly couple lives just across town from him in nearby Chumuckla, and the gator hunter said he planned on stopping by their place.
"They actually live just about 10 minutes away so I'm going to take the tag to them today," Cannon said Thursday morning. "The thing about these gators is, they're opportunists when it comes to food. They don't care if something's living or dead, if it's within reach they're going to strike."
The owners of the deceased dog declined the News Journal's request for comment.
As for the gators they caught, Cannon said the guys are still divvying up the meat this week. Whatever isn't consumed will live on as decor, he said.
"Working on the trophy mounts now, and really that's done to honor the animal," Cannon said. "Two gators like that in a span of a few hours, that doesn't happen often."
The 2020 alligator season began at 5 p.m. Saturday. The statewide recreational alligator hunting season runs between Aug. 15 and Nov. 1 each year, and depending on what harvest period you draw, you will be allowed to hunt one of the first four weeks and the remaining seven weeks of the season.
To learn more about alligator trapping licenses and harvest permits, visit myfwc.com.
Jake Newby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-435-8538.