MISSOURI CITY, Texas -- A big alligator got too close for comfort in the Sienna Plantation neighborhood of Missouri City. KHOU 11 News went along as an expert got things under control.
It started as a quiet scene Thursday afternoon, with birds and turtles dotting a little pond. But through the trees you could see a row of houses, a gas station sat right nearby and something was bubbling just below the surface.
"This big of an alligator is too big for this pond," said licensed nuisance hunter "Gator Chris" Stephens.
He came to pull it out, hoping to catch a hook on a scaly hide. After hours of patient waiting, Chris let out a yell: "Gator on baby!"
In an instant it was all thrashing tail and fighting to hold on, as "Gator Chris" yelled, "Oh yeah big boy oh yeah, oh yeah!"
Then it was time for some daddy daughter bonding.
"Keep it low, don't let it be straight, you gotta bend your rod," Chris told his 13-year-old daughter Taylor Stephens. She was the one to cover the gator's head and climb on first.
A Missouri City police officer stepped in to tape her mouth, and with calm restored, Chris noticed something.
"It's fat, holy cow!"
So as they pulled it out, he reminded a gathering crowd: "Tell anybody you know, don't feed alligators," said Gator Chris. "They get aggressive toward people and I have to come take them out."
Once an alligator gets fed enough it will start approaching people, that's what happened in this case.
"The next person may have a Chihuahua with him, and the gator's not mean, he's just thinking ooh, they brought me a Chihuahua today!" said Chris.
Once KHOU11 News reporter Alice Barr could no longer be alligator bait, she not-so-bravely sprang into action, helping carry the gator off to a new home.
That alligator was one of 2,000 that nuisance hunters like Chris will have to catch just this year in Texas. Only hunters trained and licensed through Texas Parks and Wildlife can even try it.
"If I am a lunatic, I'm an experienced one. I've done this a lot," said Chris.
His daughter Taylor added, "I've been doing it since I was four, so it's not scary. It's more of a routine."
The big belly on the alligator they caught Thursday is a sign she's been overfed. That's a problem, but in this case it helped save her life. Since she's big and healthy, and a female, she'll go to an alligator farm in El Campo. But since she's too domesticated, she loses her chance to live in the wild.
So the Stephens duo will keep taking every chance they get to teach alligator etiquette, and pack up for the next fight.