Opinion

Commentary: Gator hunter shows cruelty of human nature

The gator is so huge it doesn't look real. It's like a plaster caricature in the dinosaur exhibit at a museum. But it is real, and very dead. The blond woman crouching in the back killed it.

Her name is Maryellen Mara-Christian, she lives in Massachusetts, and hunting is her hobby. Her husband is a bear-hunting guide. They hunted gators in Louisiana on their honeymoon. But she didn't get one then. They came to South Carolina looking for a gator to kill.

They found it at Lake Moultrie, one of the two Santee Cooper lakes between Columbia and Charleston. The lakes are known for great fishing, underwater stumps that can wreck a boat, and a healthy population of gators.

Here is how you legally kill a gator in South Carolina. You can't just shoot one swimming free. You have to hook it, usually with a stout fishing rig. Mara-Christian and her hunting party hooked this gator several times.

Then you're allowed to shoot it, but this gator was so big, a shot from a .22 didn't do the job.

But by then, pierced and shot, the gator was weak enough for Mara-Christian to finish off. She took a knife to the back of its neck and cut its spinal cord.

The hunter is 5-5, about 120 pounds. The gator was 131/2 feet, 1,025 pounds.

It's the biggest one I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of gators.

My dad used to bass fish with a guy named Nick who was a little crazy. They'd come around a bend in the river and run up on a bunch of gators on the bank.

Nick would cut off the motor, flick his fingers in the water and make a little clicking sound in his throat. Sure enough, one or two of the gators would slide off the bank and head their way.

To read the complete column, visit www.charlotteobserver.com.

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