On Thursday, July 19, Gunner Neal and his grandpa headed out in their canoe to check their drop lines at Cypress Lake near Seymour, Indiana. Gunner told me they had baited the lines with cut bluegill and were having good luck catching good-sized catfish. They had also done this last year and was finding some of their hooks either bent or broken. Gunner’s grandpa, Bud Steltenpohl, told Gunner that it was probably a large turtle doing the damage, so Gunner nick named the turtle “Hercules”.
This year some of the lines had half-eaten catfish on them, so he renamed the turtle “Hannibal the Cannibal”. As they continued to check the lines, they noticed one line was tight and heavy, and when they began to pull what was hooked up to the surface, Gunner thought their catch was an alligator the way it looked with the ridges down its back. Bud had to help get it into the canoe. Gunner said that every year at this time when his grandpa has vacation from work, it’s their time together and he loves to do these things. He just didn’t realize that this year he would catch Indiana’s rarest turtle, an alligator snapper – only one other had been found in the state in the last 21 years.