MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The deer hunting opener took a wild turn for one Minnesota man Saturday, when he spotted a wide-jawed reptile lurking in the weeds.
Hunting is an escape for Zimmerman native Cory Klocek.
“It’s my peaceful place,” Klocek said.
The firefighter and former military member has been hunting since he was a boy, and he’s seen a lot of animals. But nothing prepared him for when he went hunting behind a friend’s property in East Bethel.
“I was kind of shocked. Thought maybe somebody was playing a trick on me,” Klocek said.
Klocek spotted and took a shot at a ten-point buck. When he saw it fall, he made his way towards it — but then spotted something else.
“There was a muddy bank, muddy part of the shoreline, there was an alligator there. He was probably 10 feet away from me,” he said.
A three-foot long alligator then started to move. Klocek called the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“I asked, ‘What should I do? Should I shoot this thing? Should I let it swim around?’ I was told, ‘Go around and take it out. Shoot it.’”
Klocek got a smaller caliber gun and shot the alligator. It’s now at his home.
“It’s still surreal to me,” he said. “This isn’t something that happens to a little hunter from Minnesota.”
His Facebook post about the unique hunting trip has gone viral, with mixed reactions
“People mad at me for shooting a baby alligator. Realistically, it’s an invasive species in Minnesota,” Klocek said.
He thinks it was someone’s pet who dumped it when it got too big. Klocek plans to have both the deer and the gator hung up in his collection.
“There’s never going to be a story that tops this,” he said.
WCCO reached out to the DNR to ask how often gators are found in Minnesota, but have not heard back yet.