Best Place to Use Bug Spray (2009)

Gator hunt in the Everglades

It's early September, the height of alligator-hunting season in Florida. A midnight blue Ford F-150 hauling an airboat kicks up dust as it veers off the Tamiami Trail, just west of the Miccosukee casino, and onto an uneven dirt road. The truck's headlights cut through the pitch-black thicket, revealing a small, marshy inlet. Shadowy figures emerge from the pickup and lower the sleek metallic vessel into the shallows. Accompanied by two other hunters, the captain — a Miami-Dade firefighter who grew up jumping off airboats onto the backs of gators — and his crew douse themselves in bug spray, even underneath the clothed parts of their bodies. They load onto the airboat and take off into the darkness. The only illumination emanates from the light affixed to the captain's head. He navigates through the river of grass, zipping at more than 30 miles per hour, as birds fly off, startled by the piercing buzz of the airboat's hyper-rotating fan. The skipper slows down and cuts the engine as the hunters come upon a patch of mangrove. Frogs' mating calls echo in the distance. The men scan the murky water for the telltale sign of a gator: iridescent glowing eyes. All the while, they fend off swarms of mosquitoes and gnats trying to find a piece of flesh unexposed to OFF.


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