An Outdoor News Hound “DOH!” moment occurred at a Florida tow truck business on Friday, when a man walked in and asked if anyone wanted to buy some alligator meat and legs. Unfortunately, for the potential purveyor of amphibious reptile parts, one of the men who overheard his sales pitch was an off-duty Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law-enforcement officer.
When Tyler Davidson walked into the Sneads, Fla. garage and towing business last week and asked a group of men who were chewing the fat there if anyone wanted to buy some alligator legs, it suddenly turned real quiet.
“Why don’t you ask the game warden?” one of the men said to the 21-year-old, “He’s sittin’ right here.”
According to my friend Stan Kirkland, an outdoor writer and public relations director for the FWC, officer Ben Johnson was off duty and dressed in civilian clothes.
Before Johnson could say anything, the young man hightailed it to his pickup truck and fled the scene. The officer used his cell phone to call for backup and followed Davidson using his personal vehicle.
“It was kind of a tense situation for a few minutes, because Johnson had seen a .45 (cal. handgun) tucked in the man’s waistband,” Kirkland said.
But things went from bad to worse for Davidson, as his attempt to elude the officer was ended abruptly by a flat tire. Fortunately, Johnson apprehended him without incident.
Davidson was charged with possession of an illegal alligator, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.
Kirkland offered some words of advice to anyone else who might consider the illegal sale of gator parts, especially now that the 2007 Florida hunting season is in full swing.
“There’s an old saying that you should always know your audience,” he said.