Editor’s Note: Pat Reeve and Nicole Jones, the hosts of “Driven with Pat & Nicole” (www.drivenhunter.com) on the Outdoor Channel, have been married since June, 2012. They don’t hesitate to look danger in the face and never flinch. They rely heavily on their Mossy Oak camo to make them appear to be invisible to the critters they hunt. At 110 pounds and looking like a fashion model, Nicole is the last person you’d expect to stalk a lion, shoot it with a bow, jump out of an airplane from 12,000 feet, ride a jet boat down a raging river, crawl through mud, eat dust and climb mountains to live the Mossy Oak obsession. Nicole admits, “I’m an adrenaline junkie. Just like my husband, I’m driven to hunt.”
In 2008, just before Hurricane Ike came through Louisiana, Pat and I decided to go to Louisiana and hunt alligators. Alligators are some of those adrenaline-rush critters I’d always dreamed about taking. In southern Illinois where I grew up, we didn’t have alligators. I never really got a chance to travel in my early years, and I hadn’t ever been down South. So, I’d never seen an alligator in the wild. We met with Hal Shaffer, who now hosts “Drop Zone TV,” and Ken Cobb. They knew the outfitter, Jeromy Pruitt who now is on “Swamp People,” and they set-up the hunt. We were to hunt in Monroe, La., and knew we should have a few good days of hunting before the hurricane hit. On the first 2 days, we took a few small alligators, but we were looking for a really-big alligator.
On the last day of the hunt, we started covering ground looking for a very-big alligator. We all were supposed to be flying out that day. Just before everyone was supposed to leave, Ken and Hal had turned this really-huge alligator, but they had to leave that day and didn’t get a chance to take him. When we heard the story, Pat said, “I know you’ve always wanted to take a really-big alligator. I’m willing to change our flight and stay an extra day to try and take that big gator, if that’s what you want to do.” So, for 2 days, we hunted in the rain and the wind. Once we got a small break in the weather the next day, we went to the area where the big gator had been spotted. We saw him a few times, but he never presented a shot. I had my Thompson/Center .300 Win Mag.
The rain moved-in again, and we couldn’t see the gator. We had on our raingear and had our cameras in trash bags to keep them as dry as possible. Finally, the monster gator came to the surface and presented a shot. Pat took our video camera out of the trash bag to video the hunt. But when he turned the camera on, it shorted-out and died. Apparently the humidity had gotten inside the case and shorted-out the camera. We knew I couldn’t shoot the gator, until we had some way to film the hunt for our show. So, we sent a second boat back to camp to try and get Hal’s camera before he left for the airport. Luckily, the guide was able to catch Hal, and he generously offered us his camera to film the big alligator. Once we got the camera, the alligator had submerged, and we didn’t know where he was. Our guide said he’d try to call the gator using the mating call. While we were waiting on the alligator to reappear, Pat made sure that Hal’s camera would run. We had had rain on and off during this entire adventure.
Finally, the alligator popped-up on the surface about 50-yards away. All we could see was the alligator’s eyes, and his mouth to the end of his nose. I had been told the best place to shoot an alligator was right between the eyes. If I couldn’t get that shot, I was to shoot a few inches behind the eyes. I got as steady as I could get and took the shot. As soon as I took the shot, the second boat raced toward the alligator. When they reached the spot where I’d shot the alligator, they used a gaff to hook the alligator before he sank. The alligator was still thrashing when I got to him, and I used a .44 pistol to finish him off. I was so nervous, excited and full of adrenaline that our guide’s dad grabbed me around the waist to make sure that I didn’t fall overboard, when I was trying to shoot the alligator with the pistol. I was shaking so bad that one of our guides said, “Watch-out for that crazy lady with the pistol.”
When the gator expired, our guide started pulling the alligator into the same boat where I was. I said, “Whoa, whoa, wait a minute. Get me out of this boat and into the other boat.” The guides had told me several stories about pulling alligators that they thought were dead into a boat, and then the alligators had come back to life. They had told me too-many horror stories, so I got in the other boat. When the guides started trying to pull that big gator into the boat I had just left, they almost sank the boat. When they put a tape on the alligator, he measured 12 feet, 2 inches. When we finally got the alligator back to shore, I was in awe of this prehistoric monster. The alligator weighed 900 pounds and was aged at 80-years old.