Do My Job: Trapper Jack - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Do My Job: Trapper Jack

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

Just a few miles from the Ogeechee River in South Chatham County sits a trapper's shack. It belongs to Jack Douglas. He's been catching critters for the State of Georgia for nearly 30 years.

"In 1989, DNR was having so many calls from alligators because of all the development. Every new pond seemed like it had an alligator in it, and they licensed 10 trappers statewide and gave each one of us a county to cover, and I have had the coast ever since 1989." Jack said.

Jack Douglas has been an avid hunter his entire life. Being licensed to capture alligators is just something that happened along the way.

"I met an old trapper in Richmond Hill and when he would go out, he would be skinning animals and showing me all he caught that day, and I would just go crazy over it and it got to be more than a passion than hunting did." Jack said. "So the older I got, the more I got into trapping.

Trapper Jack doesn't let much rattle him, which is evident from the many skins and skulls hanging in his shack.

"I went through a little bit of fear when I started. I had a game warden teaching me how to handle them, but I got more confident and more confident. I probably caught about 10,000 alligators. I've only had a couple of broken fingers, I don't have a lot of fear with them but I am very cautious with each one because you just never know what they are going to do."

And he doesn't just trap alligators...

"Beavers, coyotes, bobcats, a lot of raccoons, a lot of otters. Half a dozen otters will move someone's pond. They almost eat their weight in fish every day," he said. 

During the summer, gators cause the most trouble and Jack loves it!

"Right now, I'm getting three to five calls a day for nuisance alligators. I work every day. I'm on call 24/7," Trapper Jack said. "I look forward to getting up at 5:30 every morning and getting an early start. I never dread to go to work like a lot of people do."

There were no calls on the day I stopped by. Trapper Jack gave me a tour of his property while we waited. He showed me what happens to the alligators he catches and harvests.

"It smells like flesh; like a salt brine of salty water," I said. "So, there is skin in there right now?"

"All of this is filled with skin. I want to show you, all these are full of skin." Jack said.

"Have you ever seen that movie Texas ChainSaw Massacre," I asked him. "It kind of reminds me a little of that, but with animals and not people."

They are rolled up in salt and submerged in salty water and they will keep for two years like that. Then when they get to the market, they unroll them and check for scars and such and grade them and all end up in Italy. 

But, not all the alligators turn into somebody's dinner or someone's shoes. Anything under six feet is released back into the wild.

"We are poolside, but not the kind of pool you and I are thinking of. You know like laying out by the pool. Poolside for the gators here. Now, this is where you keep some of your larger gators," he told me. 

"I guess guess if we get really busy we can keep them here for a couple of days with the water until we have time to relocate them," Jack said. 

Then, it was time to get my hands dirty, but clearly, I wasn't ready.  

I asked Trapper Jack when he plans on retiring. 

"Well, I'm in pretty good health and I love what I am doing; 71, but still in pretty good shape. I look forward to my job every day. What would retire to? I am doing exactly what I want to do." Jack said.

So far, out of all the jobs I've tried for this week, alligator wrangler is definitely the one I personally have to mark off my list.

I'll leave the critter getting to the experts, like Trapper Jack.  

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