One of the side benefits of competing in the Wildlife In Focus competition is being forced to get out of your personal and professional comfort zones. Normally I NEVER place myself in situations where I'm no longer at the top of the food chain. But nature photography sometimes takes you there...
I didn't grow up being around alligators...not that many of us did. Once I started spending a lot of time on the River Ranch in Refugio County, TX, that quickly changed. There are a lot of ponds and even a resaca of the Mission River on this 3000 acre ranch. And yes...every one of them hold "gators". I see these magnificent animals every time I'm on the ranch. I've reached the point where I can spot just their eyes and snout poking out of the water.
It's when I'm walking around the perimeter of these waters that the hair sticks up on my neck. Maybe I've seen too many videos of big gators bursting out of the water grabbing some unsuspecting thirsty prey. The gators usually win those encounters.
But I'm better now that I've been exposed. Intuitively I know that the chance of me getting grabbed are low. NOT nonexistent... just low. My fear has ebbed a bit and I now have a healthy respect for these reptiles. Now snakes...thats a whole different story!