Some people dream of owning a sports cars. Others look forward to building their dream home. For Bryan Neal of Cleveland, he’s always dreamed of owning an alligator.
Not a live alligator – as it’s illegal to own a protected game species in Texas – but a stuffed and mounted gator for Neal’s home.
“Since I was a kid, I wanted an alligator. It’s the fulfillment of a dream,” said Neal, the owner of Neal Funeral Home in Cleveland.
For years, the dream was set aside while he built a business and raised a family. However, a chance meeting with people acquainted with Troy Landry from the History Channel’s “Swamp People” revived the dream.
“I met Laura and David Daigle at L’auberge Casino in Lake Charles. We got to talking and the conversation turned to alligators. I mentioned to them that I had always wanted an alligator to have mounted,” Neal said.
The Daigles put Neal in touch with Landry who is 300 alligators into this year’s season. In one recent outing, Landry captured 70 of the large reptiles in the waters near his home in Assumption Parish, La.
Landry agreed to sell Neal one of his biggest gators of the season – a 12-footer.
“Everybody wants a big alligator,” Landry told Bluebonnet News by phone Monday, Sept. 9. “The alligator business has been real good for us. The times are changing though and the market isn’t so good for them.”
With 560 alligator tags, Landry had one to spare. Neal drove to Assumption Parish where he met Landry at the alligator processing plant. They packed the gator in a bed of ice in Neal’s truck and he headed to Livingston, Texas, where it will be mounted by Moye Taxidermy.
With the shift in the alligator market, Landry and his sons, who hunt with him on the TV show, are looking into offering guided hunts in the future.
“When the show goes away and when the History Channel tells us that they are done with us, we are going to do the guided hunts,” he said.
As viewers of Swamp People will know, Landry is famous for his catchphrase of “Choot em!” and for hunting with his friend, Liz “Miss Elizabeth” Cavalier.”
The two no longer hunt for the big gators together. Landry laughed as he explained, “She’s too hard-headed. She wouldn’t listen when I told her to do something.”
Still good friends, Landry joked that it is better for the two of them to be in separate boats.
“I pick on her all the time. We get along good together. She’s a hard worker,” he said.
As for Neal’s alligator, it will eventually be a conversation piece and decoration in the game room of the new home he plans to build. For now, it will be stored in the living quarters inside the funeral home.
While some people might be critical of his decision to have the animal mounted, Neal said alligators are plentiful and this is a routine culling of the population.
“There is no shortage of them,” he said. “The meat wouldn’t have been good. He was too big for that. All this size is good for is leather for boots and purses.”
By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org