Outdoors With Keith Warren
With so many trips this time of year on my schedule, I asked one of my staff members to attend an event on my behalf and submit a story. The following is from my fishing show producer, Pat Buchta.
I am fortunate enough to have my dream job at a relatively young age.
Every week I am challenged to create an entertaining, educational story
out of a fishing experience that Keith has had. But it is about so much
more than just fishing. It is the people and places we see along the way
Occasionally, we see and experience things that cannot be accurately described within the confines of a thirty-minute television show. The Gatorfest, held Sept. 15th and 16th, was one of those things.
When Keith asked me to cover the annual Gatorfest in Anuahac, Texas, I have to admit I was a bit nervous. Images of alligators eating small children and dogs flew through my head. But my sense of adventure got the better of me and I accepted the assignment without hesitation. Just 45 minutes past Houston, on the East side of Galveston bay lies the small bayou village of a Anahuac. It was here that I witnessed my first alligator hunt, and met some of the warmest, friendliest people I have ever come across.
Early in the afternoon, I hooked up with Gary Pigg, A Miller Beer representative
who arranged for me to film a group checking their gator traps early the
next morning. In the meantime, I had a lot of time to kill, so I wandered
around the park for several hours getting footage of kids on carnival
One of the organizers of the Gatorfest took me up to the dancing area and called out, "D.D.! There's somebody here you've got to meet!" From out of the crowd a lively middle aged fellow two-steps with his wife and shakes my hand briefly. This guy looked like he was having a really good time, so I figured I would wait to talk until the next morning.
Finally my friends from Miller had cleaned up the Beirgarten for the
following day's festivities and after a late night brisket sandwich from
a local merchant, I followed Gary to our accommodations of the evening.
We stayed in a room above a rustic old bar located back on a bayou channel.
Our sleep was all too brief, but the first cool front of the season blew
in that morning and I awoke to a brilliant sunrise over the channel that
seemed even sharper in the cool morning air. I could tell this would be
a good day.
Going on only two hours of sleep, this man looked remarkably well and
was instantly engaging and friendly. (I'm certain that the Gatorfest was
an exception to this man's normal sleeping schedule.) As his young sons
and their friends prepared for our trip into the marsh, D. D. made me
feel at home at once by telling me all about his family, hunting lodge
and how the recent drought had almost completely dried two reservoirs.
Already, three gators were piled in the back of the hunters' trucks.
They proceeded to check the next trap, while I filmed the event, and low
and behold, a twelve-foot alligator rose up from the banks, snapping and
thrashing about. If you've never seen a gator of this size, it really
Chambers County has the largest population of gators concentrated in
one region in Texas. For every one human in the county, there are more
than twice as many gators. Hunting alligators here is not a leisure sport,
it is a necessity. The populations of gators in Chambers County is so
The number of gators harvested every year is closely monitored. Landowners
like D. D. are issued a certain number of tags that they sell to hunters
each gator season. With alligators, as all animals, there is no room for
an inhumane kill. They must be put down as quickly and efficiently as
The Gatorfest, then, is more of a reverent party than anything else,
parallel to the great feasts Native Americans would hold after a successful
hunt. To them, as to the good people of Anahuac, the animal represented
prosperity and safety of the entire tribe. It's true that nature exists
After a tasty lunch of grilled croker (who would've imagined?) at a friends' home, D. D. and I drove around the area for what seemed like hours as we made several gator-related errands and talked about the history of the region, environmental issues related to the marshes, and whatever else under the sun that came up. D. D. was definitely one of the most intelligent and interesting people I've met in some time, and I was sad to leave. But as the first cool winds of the fall blow in next year, I know where I'll be. For fowl and gator hunting, contact D. D. Leggott at the Easy Bay Hunting Lodge (409) 252-3201.
Keith Warren is the host of Fishing & Outdoor Adventures (formerly known as The Texas Angler Television Show) along with Hunting & Outdoor Adventures, both of which broadcast statewide. Catch Fishing & Outdoor Adventures from January through June and Hunting & Outdoor Adventures from July through December on Fox Sports Southwest Cable Network on Sundays at 8:30 AM CST. You an write to Keith Warren at P.O. Box 310379, New Braunfels, TX 78131-0379 or visit on-line at www.fishingandoutdoor.com.
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