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The 12- Foot Alligator- Another Smoke School Story from Whitlow Enterprises

I am a simple man. What you see is what you get. I am not Forrest Gump of Bubba Gump Shrimp, but I may be closer than you think. I try and keep smoke school simple and fun for everyone. I love everyone. I try and chose smoke school locations that will help you relax. In many cases you can just leave your cell phone at home. There is not any service. You can actually get away from the rest of the world and just have peace and quiet. The fish always bite at smoke school. We conduct many smoke schools in state parks with fully equipped lakeside cabins. You can lodge there for about the same or lower than the nearby hotels.

Bubba, Billy Bob and I have just returned from one such location deep in the Louisiana Bayou Country at Lake Fausse Point State Park near Saint Martinville.  We were there to train employees from the Louisiana Sugar Cane Houses where the plants cook sugar cane into brown sugar for processing. We conducted the smoke school method 9 opacity field-certification test near a picnic pavilion next to the bayou. The area was very shady under the oaks, magnolia and the cypress trees. You could hear an orchestra of frogs, crickets, and birds. Billy Bob fried our guests some spicy pond raised Cajun catfish while Bubba and I conducted the test.

After we finished the catfish lunch, we conducted the classroom under the shelter. I love outside classrooms. When we finished the classroom we returned to our cabin. The three bedroom cabin was made of cypress wood and was built on stilts over the edge of the lake. We fished from the deck at the back of the cabin and watched the sunset over the water.

I always conduct this particular sugar house smoke school in August because the cane harvest will began soon and the plant employees will be cooking the cane and making sugar. This was my third time for conducting this school. It had been a year since I had sat on that deck and fed the alligator. I was wandering if he would remember me. I held out the bag of pork skins and yelled "Come here boy".

The gator usually nested in a hole across the lake by a cypress stump about 100 yards away. To my surprise I saw his head surface and he swam straight across the lake at a very fast pace. There were some kids fishing with their father and mother on the small pier between our cabin and our neighbor's cabin. The kids screamed and ran into their cabin as the gator approached.

He swam to the corner of our deck, which was about 10 feet above the water. He moved gracefully with his mouth open and scooped up the pork skins gracefully. He look into my eyes with his large ones and said "Give me more- Feed me." Heather, my 12-year-old daughter came out to take her time feeding the gator. Heather named the gator Jesse.

I did not feel any fear for Jesse, the gator. I have fished with and fed many gators along the Louisiana lakes and bayous for years. I have seen more alligator on Lake Lacosine than any other place. I have fished there for hours and have never had a time when there was not an alligator in site. It is hard to fish there because they follow your boat and try and catch your bait.

I did not feel any fear for Jesse the gator,  I walked down the steps of the deck onto the pier that the children had abandoned. I laid down on the deck which was about 2 feet above the water. Jesse swam over and stopped dead still about 6 feet from me. I dropped a pork skin and it floated on the water. Jesse eyed the chip and then he eyed me. Heather came onto the pier and laid beside me. Jesse watched and waited suspiciously. Then cautiously he moved and scooped the chip about 2 feet in front of Heather and me. Jesse was about 12-feet long, he had grown since last year. He ate 2 bags of pork skins. I guess he survives the annual alligator season in Louisiana because they are protected in the state parks.

That is the way it is.

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