Winch missions can be wrought with danger — bacteria-filled water, over zealous law enforcement or unruly locals may ruin your set. But in Florida, there is another, more scaly menace to be had. Recently about an hour outside of Orlando, what started as an average winch mission with Dieter Humpsch and Reed Hansen, quickly turned into something very different. Things were going as planned, Reed landed a varial flip on the second try at the gap and was ready to move on to 360 flips. Everything seemed to be great until while walking the rope out, Reed yelled at us and looked back with a worried face, “You guys see this! Look! Hurry up! Go!”
Sure enough Reed was about 40 yards (36.576m for you smarter countries) away from a 12-foot (3.66m) gator. John fired up the winch and got Reed back in a hurry. The gator cruised up right to where Reed had been in the water and just sat there. After 10 or 15 minutes of gawking and talking about how crazy it was, we realized we were done winching unless we got rid of this gator. We started throwing rocks at it, knowing of course it has the toughest skin and they wouldn’t hurt him, but maybe get him moving. But he didn’t, so more drastic measures needed to be taken.
Reed decided to get in the water and do a gator mating call, since as any good Floridian knows, it is mating season right now. The gator turned and bee-lined right at Reed who hopped out of the water with ninja-like quickness. This didn’t please the Gator, who decided to show off and slap his tail on the water and raise his head toward us. After a little while we noticed a baby gator in the weeds next to us, not even 10 yards(9.144 m) away from us. It quickly became apparent that we were not going to be able to hit this spot that day or maybe any other day. Still though, Reed can say he swam into a Gator’s Lair and varial flipped out of it.