One Live Alligator is Worth a Dozen Dead

An excerpt from naturalist Bradford Torrey’s 1894 book, A Florida Sketch-Book:

American Alligator in the swamp prairie grasses along Billy’s Lake; Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 11, 2015. © Please don’t steal my images. Download and use legally at

“But as we were skirting along the shore I suddenly called ‘Hist! An alligator lay on the bank just before us. The boy turned his head, and instantly was all excitement. It was a big fellow, he said,—one of three big ones that inhabited the creek. He would get him this time. ‘Are you sure?’ I asked.

“‘Oh yes, I’ll blow the top of his head off.’ He was loaded for gallinules, and I, being no sportsman, and never having seen an alligator before, was some shades less confident. But it was his game, and I left him to his way.

“He pulled the boat noiselessly against the bank in the shelter of tall reeds, put down the oars, with which he could almost have touched the alligator, and took up his gun. At that moment the creature got wind of us, and slipped incontinently into the water, not a little to my relief. One live alligator is worth a dozen dead ones, to my thinking. He showed his back above the surface of the stream for a moment shortly afterward, and then disappeared for good.”

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