Good thing Thompson stayed in the boat. Those crocs are some of the biggest, most dangerous animals in the world, responsible for killing a number of unwary humans over the years.
Thompson went back to the river again to do some sport fishing, catching fighting fish he describes as “nothing like I’d ever seen before.” The waters around Melville boast 27 different species of game fish, including barramundi, mangrove jack, jew fish, golden snapper, threadfin salmon, trevally, turrum, mackerel, northern longtail tuna, cobia, giant herring, queenfish, coral trout, barracouta, macktuna, tarpon and cod.
The last quarry Thompson would go after was a Tiger shark, and some huge ones lurk in the warm tropical waters off Melville Island. These dangerous, solo hunters can grow to more than 15 feet in length and weigh in at over 1,500 pounds.
“I had my heart set on a really big shark,” says Thompson. “All I really wanted was to get my picture taken with it and pull some of its teeth to bring home. I told the guide this when we started out into open water, and he looked at me and said, real slowly, ‘If you’re dumb enough to do that, here are some pliers, go ahead, because none of my boys or me are gonna do it.’ I dropped the idea.”
The shark hunt, in a 24-foot outboard-powered open fishing boat, began in calm, crystal-clear water with no wind but headed into choppy water as the winds kicked up around noon. The best fishing round was well offshore in open ocean. It was another ordeal Thompson had been waiting to face, wondering how he’d handle it.
When he was eight, Thompson watched his brother, six years older than him, drown in lake waters near their Michigan farm. It was Memorial Day, and the older boy had waded into the water when he dropped off a shelf and into a hole and went under the water. For years Thompson had lived with a terror of deep water, even suffering through bouts of nightmares about it. And Monte Thompson “can’t swim a stroke.” Even as Thompson had planned the trip, and knew where he had to go, he was unsure how he would feel in the boat. But once again, Thompson, wearing a tightly cinched lifejacket, overcame his fears as he fished for shark. He was fine, except for some queasiness when the wind brought chops and swells.
“I got a shark, but it was no man-eating giant. They say there are some huge Tigers out there that’ll take hours to land. Mine must have been about 40 pounds,” he says, laughing.
Thompson says his former fear of flying was not a factor on his trip back to Montana, and he has no qualms about setting up his next adventures.
“Just planning these trips is exciting. It builds and builds until you can feel the adrenaline even before you go,” he says. “I’m going to go to Africa with David Gold; he knows buffalo, I know that, and he works South Africa and Zimbabwe. But I think for the Cape Buffalo, one of Africa’s most dangerous species, I’ll take my biggest rifle. You never know with buffalo. After that I’m thinking about hunting bear in Siberia.”
If hunting buffalo, geese, sports fish or shark on Melville Island appeals to you, Monte Thompson recommends both of the guides who helped him: David Gold for the buffs (www.ausafari.com.au/) and Les and Annette Woodbridge for the fish and fowl (www.topendsportfishing.com.au/).
Chris Carpenter didn’t have to look far for meat to fill his freezer – this buck was waiting for him in is driveway.
Rods & Barrels
A Home Where the Deer Roam
When he picks up his gun, Chris Carpenter hunts for meat, not trophies. Once his freezer is full, his deer season is over. Sometimes the seasons lasts longer than others.