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Hunting and Fishing fed the early settlers

Since the beginning, Naples has attracted a great number of hunters and fishermen to our region. Not only was hunting and fishing great sport, our early settlers depended on game and the abundant fish for food. Swamp Buggy Days came in the late 1940s to mark the beginning of the hunting season. For those of you who still like to hunt for wildlife you need only drive down to the Everglades. Theses swamps hold many mysterious tales of the past and are home to deer, quail, wild boar, bear, wild turkey and alligators. In times gone by, the ‘good old boys’ left Naples and took their hunting dogs, swamp buggies, rifles and other gear and headed for the happy hunting grounds. In those days, there were many hunting camps and lodges, but most took up headquarters in tents and campgrounds. Before the Moorings were developed, it was a favorite place to hunt deer. Not too far from downtown, Naples hunters drove their Jeeps into the Glades from the area that is now the Hole in the Wall golf course. Those early hunters called it Hole in the Wall because it was an area that allowed easy access to the hunting grounds. Even those of us who did not hunt in search of wild game were not denied an exposure to wild beasties. In the early days, there were hundreds of quail calling Naples home. It was a delightful experience to come across a mother quail and her brood as they courageously crossed the roadways. Raccoons were nocturnal callers at town garbage cans while armadillos, possum, abundant rabbits and even a family of red foxes found refuge within the town limits. A bear cub invaded Fifth Avenue, causing much excitement on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The most famous critter that called Naples home was a giant alligator that lived in a lake on the Hole in the Wall golf course. Members named him or her (no one got close enough to tell) Old Glen, after Port Royal developer Glen Sample. Paul Frank, the groundskeeper, was asked by National Geographic to entice Old Glen out of the pond long enough for a photo op. Not only did the gator cooperate and emerge from his lair but allowed Paul Frank to place a golf ball on his nose. The photo was featured in National Geographic, and Old Glen became a celebrity. The most prized species to be brought back from a hunt was a wild turkey. This magnificent bird is the largest, most intelligent and most valued game bird in North America. Although they share the same name, the wild turkey is far more wily and clever. Meaning no disrespect for our domestic bird, one must admit they are rather dim and are the result of crossbreeding, especially bred to produce meat for the American table. The wild turkey has the best eyesight and a rare instinct for danger, which makes it very difficult to bag one. But after a hunter manages to kill a wild turkey, there is sure to be a magnificent feast in the making.

Source: Doris Reynolds, local historian

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