Sunday, August 30, 2009

Gator's Bait Shack 01

"Gator" Joe Saunders lived in the Okefenokee. This is a close of up Gator from the book Okefinokee Album written by Francis Harper and Delma E. Presley. We don't know a lot about Gator Joe, but I love his picture. He appears to be the quintessential swamper/tough guy. He reminds me of Tom Laughlin in the movie Billy Jack. The bowler style hat gives him a unique appearance.

Swampers were hunters, so it only goes that there should be a place to gather for a hunt. There were several hunting lodge shacks in the area, but my guess is that there was a place that was a bit more than just a place to keep the rain off your head.

So, as the story goes, Gator Joe Saunders turns a hunting shack into a more enterprising place as interest in hunting and fishing in the swamp grows. You need a place to get a pole boat, the prefered method of travel in the thick swamp. You need bait and shells. Food, directions and other geat. You also need a Mason jar...just for emergencies, mind you. Thus, Gator's Bait Shack is born.

Gator's Bait Shack will be nestelled on Honey Island. It is build on a sandy soil and most of the operations is on pilings. There are walking boards and place to tie up. There is ample covered areas to keep the rain off the gear and the ever present tin roof. The structure is clapboard cypress with screen wire to keep the critters out.

You can buy what you need at Gator's. Buy some things you don't need when Wild Mabel comes by on Saturday night. Even more evil when the cards are on the table and the still is in operation. Its a hangout for hunters, scoundrels and folks who's morals are a bit in question. You shouldn't go there at night unless you are expected. A fellow with a shotgun is always on the lookout for revenuers, uninvited loggers or other undesireables.

So let's start designing the swamp's first habitat...Gator's Bait Shack


  1. Good stuff, Scott! I'm a big fan of model railroads and have been immersed in the history of the Okefenokee my entire life. As a matter of fact, those boys in the photo with Gator Joe & Francis Harper are the brothers and cousin of my Gr-Gr-Grandpa and sons of my Gr-Gr-Gr-Grandpa Daniel Lee. Daniel was the first white man to settle on Billy's Island in 1853. I'd be glad to share any information with you that might help.

  2. I loved this article it's so cool to learn about my great-grandfather

  3. My husband is Gator Joe's grandson.


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