Feechie of the Week--Peanut Trull

I've been seeing a lot of stories recently about hunters taking huge alligators, especially in Alabama and Georgia, but this one, sent in by Christie Mulkey of Texas, seemed especially noteworthy. Peanut Trull of Leslie, Georgia (that's just around the corner from Jimmy Carter's hometown of Plains) captured a 12-foot alligator and, along with a hunting guide, tied the thing to a boat trailer, alive. Said the guide, "We tied him down what we thought was good enough. It wasn't good enough. He would go to kicking and break everything that we tied him to. Break the tape. Pull the ropes loose. It took us two and a half hours to get him tied down." It is also worth noting that Peanut's girlfriend was along for the hunt, which is one of the most romantic things I've ever heard. She also got an alligator tag in the DNR lottery, so the two feechie lovebirds will be going on another outing later this month. Below is the news report, which shows Peanut and the guide and the alligator (still alive, I think) but, alas, does not show Peanut's girlfriend.

(If you prefer to read the story, here is the link. ).

Feechie of the Week: Cobra Pit Custodian

Author's note: Yes, more video. I'm up to my elbows in this Flannery O'Connor biography and so don't have time to compose the thoughtful analyses and soul-baring anecdotes you've come to expect at Jonathan-Rogers.com. Sorry about that. But I suspect a video of a guy handling cobras is more interesting anyway. Perhaps it's the warming weather, but there's been an encouraging uptick in feechiefied behavior recently. In the previous post, a young man in Florida narrowly escaped an alligator attack thanks to his baggy pants. It wasn't enough to earn him the honor of Feechie of the Week, but it was a step in the right direction.

Earlier this week I heard about an incident in Memphis in which a policeman got bitten when he confronted a woman in a city park about not picking up after her pit bull. It was the woman who bit him. The pit bull behaved himself. When I heard that story I thought, "Maybe there's hope that the Feechie of the Week could return."

Then reader Kenny Clark sent me the video below. It is truly a display of feechie sangfroid:

Thanks, Kenny. And congratulations to the Cobra Pit Custodian, our Feechie of the Week.

The Slingshot Man

Rufus Hussey lived near Asheboro, North Carolina, and could do things with a slingshot that nobody else could do. This video must be from the eighties, from the looks of the Pepsi cans. A television host once asked, "Rufus, I understand you can knock a quarter out of the air with that thing! Is that right?" Rufus answered, "I can hit a penny.... but when it gets that cheap, it's time to quit!" Here he is:

Feechie of the Week Returns! Python Hunters

It was my intention in this Feechie of the Week to highlight the brave python hunters of the Florida Everglades. As you may know, huge non-native pythons abound in the Everglades; many of them apparently got there in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew destroyed a python breeder's facility and released untold numbers of snakes into the wild. Burmese pythons, as it turns out, love Florida as much as retirees love it. They have thrived there, multiplying and growing to fifteen feet and more. And like so many non-native species (including retirees), they've been wreaking havoc on the ecosystem. I've seen articles about a few of the fish and wildlife guys whose job is to hunt and kill the pythons in the Everglades. They're interesting people, and they may be featured yet. But then I remembered something I had seen on Abraham Piper's twentytwowords.com website, and the Florida python hunters, with their trucks and guns, paled by comparison. Picture this: an African rock python has been carrying off your livestock by night and slithering back down its hole. What are you going to do about it? You might get hold of these old boys:

Notice there's no truck or gun in this picture. These guys are old-school.

Pythons are constrictors, but they also have teeth. So our hero protects his left arm with an animal hide like so:

And then he heads down the python's hole. No, literally...he heads down the hole. He's got his animal-hide snake guard on his left hand, a torch in his right, and that's about it.

These next pictures--the ones taken down the hole--bring up a few questions. Questions like, "Who took these pictures?" I don't care. I prefer to marvel at the pure feechieness of the moment rather than get hung up on the technicalities. Our man's fire gives him light to see and confuses the snake.

The snake, confused though she may be, has wits enough to know she's in for a fight. The snake catcher waves his left arm (the one with the hide protector) in front of the snakes face, and she lunges for it.  I guess that's a clutch of eggs she's wrapped around.

(I know what you're thinking: isn't it the camera person we should be admiring here rather than the snake catcher? Please don't be cynical. It's unbecoming.)

Once the snake has latched on to the catcher's left arm, he grabs her throat with his right hand.

I'm thinking one of the key principles in this method of snake-catching is "Once you've grabbed aholt, you got to keep aholt." The only thing worse than holding onto that snake, I should think, would be letting go of it.

The snake catcher emerges triumphant from the snake hole.

And he and his buddies return to the village, buoyed by the knowledge that they have truly and genuinely earned the honor of Feechies of the Week. And hearty congratulations and felicitations to them.

P.S. Can you believe how much our hero looks like an African Merle Haggard in that picture?

Feechie of the Week: Lester Warner

It's true: there are a couple of non-feechie details to the following story. One doesn't think of feechiefolk sitting in recliners in the woods, for instance. Nevertheless, fans of feechiefolk will appreciate the spirit of Lester Warner of Dover Township, PA. Mr. Warner is eighty-six years old and dying of metastatic prostate cancer. He recently stopped chemotherapy. But deer season was coming up, and he wanted to go hunting one last time.

It didn't seem very likely, given his weakened state, but he did his exercises and as deer season approached, he thought maybe he could do it.

Opening day of deer season, Lester and his sons woke up at 4 a.m. and headed out to the woods. Lester's son Brian had hauled a recliner up Broadtop mountain, and there Lester sat in the 19-degree weather.

Around 8 am, a big buck came out of the woods. Lester told his son Brian to shoot it, but Brian insisted that his father take the shot. He dropped the deer with one shot. Then he looked at his son and said, "Never give up."

It was the biggest buck Lester ever killed.

You can read the full story at the York Daily Record.

BONUS: Also from the York Daily Record: Resident Stunned After Deer Ransacks Dover Township Home. I love the fact that it's in the Crime section.

Feechies of the Week: Catfish Noodlers

Chapter 15 of The Bark of the Bog Owl details a fishing trip in which Aidan and his feechie friends Doyno and Branko "grabble" catfish--which is to say, catch them with their hands. Not all readers realize that this is a real pastime among some of our more feechiefied friends and neighbors. It seems to be called "noodling" more often than "grabbling." Here's a movie of a couple of old boys who are gifted catfish noodlers. Perhaps the most feechiefied moment of the movie is when the cameraman zooms in on the bloodied forearm of the combatant and says "Show your mama." Tres feechie. Thanks to Joe Thacker for nominating our feechies of the week.

p.s. I just noticed that the header refers to our feechies of the week as rednecks. It's not a word I use, and I would prefer that it not be on my blog. But these guys are so brilliant I would hate to deprive my readers of them. So scratch out 'redneck' and write in 'feechie.'

Feechie of the Week: Michael Dohanic

He's mild-mannered. He's soft-spoken. He's an officer of the law, for crying out loud. He looks for all the world like a textbook example of a civilizer. But Michael Dohanic has got a feechie twinkle. And he lives with seven alligators. "They're fairly well contained," he says. Which I'm sure is a comfort to his neighbors in the town of North East, Pennsylvania (which is in northwest Pennsylvania, near Lake Erie...I think that's a nice touch). In captivity, an alligator can grow to 12 or 13 feet. "Does that concern you?" asks his interlocutor. "Not yet," says our Feechie of the Week. Good answer.

Feechie of the Week: Chito the Crocodile Whisperer

Florida is crawling with people who will let you watch them rassle an alligator if you buy a ticket. Those people have their reward in full. They need not aspire to the title of Feechie of the Week. Chito is different. Chito, a Costa Rican fisherman, seems genuinely to love his crocodile Pocho. When he found Pocho, the poor croc was injured. Chito nursed him back to health, feeding him chickens and giving him medicine. (That's the part I wonder about: how exactly does one administer medicine to a crocodile?) And then, as you might expect, he started training his crocodile to do tricks. Not for money, but to entertain his friends.

Which is to say, Chito's career as a performer began with perhaps the greatest of all feechie utterances: "Hey, yall--watch this!" Later, his friends suggested that he start charging tourists to watch him and Pocho do their tricks. And why shouldn't he? Good on him is what I say.

'This is a very dangerous routine," says Chito.  "But Pocho is my friend and we have a good relationship." A relationship, he says. With a crocodile. I'm telling you, the man is a feechie.

Here's a little movie about Chito and Pocho. The best moment is at about 30 seconds, when Chito wears his crocodile for a hat.

Thanks to faithful readers Marie and Joe for nominating Chito for this honor.

Feechie of the Week: Alexander Alcantare, One-Armed Animal Lover

alcantare
alcantare

Alexander Alcantare is an animal lover. I daresay he loves animals too much. While trying to rescue some baby birds a few years back, he got tangled up with an electric fence and got so badly burned that his arm had to be amputated.

He could have used that other arm last week when his altruistic instincts again overpowered his common sense. He noticed that a seven-foot alligator in a Florida canal had an arrowhead stuck in its head. Wanting to help, he waded into the canal to catch said alligator and get it some medical attention. The alligator, being an alligator, attacked. It gave a nasty bite to Mr. Alcantare’s good arm.

"I couldn't really handle him too good," Mr Alcantare said. "The guy I asked to help me, he got scared and let go of the rope and since I couldn't secure his mouth, he got me."

You or I would have quit at that point and left the alligator to his own devices. That’s why neither you nor I are feechie of the week. Mr. Alcantare somehow got the alligator onto his bicycle and pedaled it home. I’d like for you to pause, dear reader, and picture this moment: a one-armed man bleeding profusely from that one arm, a thrashing seven-foot alligator, a bicycle. I’m having some trouble with the logistics myself, but I invite you to use your imagination.

I suspect the alligator would have preferred to have been left alone. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission euthanized it; after all, it had bitten a man. To Mr. Alcantare’s surprise, the game wardens didn’t look favorably on his heroic efforts.

"Somehow, I ended up with a citation," he said. "And I got to get a permit for my raccoon."

Here's video from the local news..

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcmiami.com/video.

Feechie of the Week: Turtle Man

The Turtle Man of Kentucky. We may never again see such a perfect FotW. Editor's Note: At five and a half minutes, the Turtle Man video is a little long. I know, dear reader, that you're a busy person. If you watch the first 45 seconds or so, you're pretty much got the Turtle Man. On the other hand, this little movie has its rewards all the way through to the end.

Feechie of the Week: Aaron Roughton's Dad

It's a big day for Jonathan-Rogers.com. I'm proud to present the first reader-submitted Feechie of the Week. Aaron Roughton, a regular around here, tells the story of his father's capture of an alligator...with his bare hands. It's a chilling tale. Don't be put off by the fact that the story begins with an eighth-grade choir trip. Young Mr. Roughton soon proves his feechie bona fides. Do you have a friend or loved one who has behaved in a feechiefied manner? Tell the story using the contact form to the right. He or she could be Feechie of the Week.

Now for Aaron's story...

Legend has it that sometime around 1960 my dad was on an 8th grade choir trip with his school.  The destination was Rainbow Springs in central Florida.  This is not the kind of trip I can imagine being legal in today’s world of lawsuits, especially based upon what transpired at the park.  While on a glass bottom boat tour of the springs that morning, the tour guide pointed down a small stream forking off from the main river at a floating raft of tape grass (or Valisneria Saggiteria as my dad has corrected me) that had gotten caught in some low hanging branches along side the stream.  Sleeping peacefully on the raft was a cluster (herd? pod? swarm?) of baby alligators.  About 10 feet further down the stream was the partially submerged head of a very large mama gator patiently guarding her young.  With a wink, my dad and his buddy knew what the rest of the afternoon had in store for them.  My dad was a Methodist preacher’s kid like his father before him and like me after him.  He grew up in Orlando, so running around in swamps was a normal Sunday afternoon activity.  He had 10 or 12 aquariums full of snakes in the church parsonage that he and his friends had caught and stuffed in pillow cases on their outings.  But he didn’t have a gator.   He saw his chance that day at Rainbow Springs, so after the glass bottom boat ride was over he checked out a canoe. The two boys paddled back to the stream toward the sleeping gators.  They got as close as they could, but the low hanging branches prevented them from making it all the way to the raft.  They didn’t see the mama gator, so my dad put on his swim mask and his flippers and slipped into the crystal clear ice cold water to swim the last 15 feet.  He inched silently up to the raft, mask half in the water, half out, while his friend kept watch in the canoe.  When he was given the all-clear, he lurched over the side of the nest with a few good kicks and started grabbing for gators.  The babies scattered, but he managed to grab one that was missing its left front leg, because it was probably swimming in circles, and scrambled back into the canoe.  The baby immediately started calling for mama with a “YONK!  YONK!  YONK!”   But the mama gator was nowhere to be found.  After an unpleasant bus ride with a baby gator tucked under his shirt, chewing angrily on his belly, my dad found himself the proud owner of a prehistoric fanginfested deathrolling swamplurker.

THE REST OF THE STORY

A couple of years later my grandfather was transferred to a Methodist church in Ft. Lauderdale.  The gator had been living in a large tank outside the Orlando house, but since the parsonage in Ft. Lauderdale was on the church grounds, my grandfather thought it best to release the gator before they moved.  They took him to a lake near Sebring and let him go free.  Fifteen years later, my dad found himself back in Sebring as a speaker for Youth Week at 1st United Methodist Sebring.  On a break, he took a walk on a long boardwalk that wound through a cypress swamp at a park in town. He spotted a couple throwing marshmallows from the boardwalk to an 8' gator in the swamp below.  The gator rolled to his right to get one of the marshmallows in the coca-cola colored swamp water and my dad noticed that he was...wait for it...missing his left front leg!

Feechie of the Week: Jake

Boar
Boar

For this week's FotW we have to go way back into the archives, to the man who inspired Dobro Turtlebane. When I was a graduate student at Vanderbilt, I went back to my hometown in Georgia to work on a remodeling crew. One of my crewmates was a boy named Jake. He was seventeen and skinny but tough as beef jerky. He was so country that the dash and bustle of Warner Robins, GA made him gape the way you might gape at Times Square, and any time we went to a restaurant for lunch, he had the unsettling habit of telling the town girls how pretty they were. Most mornings Jake came to work bleary-eyed, as if he had stayed up all night. I asked him what that was about, certain there was a good story behind those red-rimmed eyes.

"I hunt wild hogs," he said. "Me and my buddies spend most nights in the swamps, either at the Ocmulgee or the Flint."

"Boar hunting!" I said. This was interesting. I didn't figure it would be hard to get him going on that subject. A question or two, and he would be off. "So, what kind of gun do you use?" I asked.

"Gun?" he scoffed. "We don't take no guns!"

"Then what do you take?"

"Dogs. Rope. A flashlight."

"Wait a minute," I said, not sure we were talking about the same thing. "What did you say?"

"We got these dogs," Jake said. "Mostly bulldog. We slog through the swamp until they bay up a hog. Then a catch dog grabs holt of his ear." He paused, basking in my fascinated attention. "And then I whirl in with the rope to tie him up."

"Tie him up?" I asked. "Tie who up?"

"The hog! Who else?"

"You mean like calf-roping at a rodeo?"

"About like that. Except that a calf aint slinging five-inch tusks around and kicking like a roto-tiller and squealing to deafen a feller. It's some excitement, I don't mind telling you."

I gaped. "So you tie him up," I said. "What do you do then?"

"We carry him out on a pole, kicking and squirming."

I didn't know whether to believe him or not, but the next day he brought me pictures of the dogs, the hogs, and the hunters, both in the swamp and in the pen where they fattened up their captured hogs.

Jake came to work one morning more red-eyed than usual. Obviously he had been crying. I put a hand on his ropy shoulder. "What's wrong, Jake?" I asked.

He gave me a doleful look, then busted out crying again. "We were hunting last night," he sobbed. "And an alligator ate my dog."

I thought, What a world is this? I was living this suburban, academic life, and yet there was this alternate world swirling just around the corner where men wrestled wild boars in the swamp and alligators ate their dogs. I decided that if I ever wrote a book, Jake would have to be in it. And he is. He is the original feechie.

Jake, wherever you are, congratulations on being named Feechie of the Week.