Volume 43- No. 05
February 02, 2012 The Ghost of Trapper Nelson
by lyle e davis
Each of us, in our lifetimes, have known someone who was “different.”
would march to the beat of a different drummer than the rest of us.
They were, and are, memorable because of their ‘difference.’
Such a man was the Wild Man of the Loxahatchee, who lived off the land in the northern Everglades in Florida.
"Trapper" Nelson lived in the murky swamps and mangroves of the Loxahatchee from the 1930s until 1968.
When he was found dead with a shotgun hole in his belly, his legend grew.
He was called "The Wild Man of the Loxahatchee" – and with good reason. He stood 6-feet, 4-
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inches, with 240 pounds of mus- cle. He lived in a log cabin. He ate only what he could kill and he never went hungry. He hunted, he fished, he trolled the "River of Grass." And he appar- ently had little fear of the alliga- tors, water moccasins, rat- tlesnakes and panthers who also lived here.
Trapper Nelson caught so many creatures that he eventually built a small zoo to house them, buying 800 acres from the sur- rounding landowners (the cages are still here).
He entertained visitors by wrestling alligators. He appar- ently had an eye for the ladies as well – many of whom hired guides to bring them upriver to his cabin.
Vince "Trapper" Nelson (born Vincent Nostokovich or Natulkiewicz around 1908 or 1909 to Polish immigrant par-
Trapper Nelson - some say his ‘ghost’ still visits the area of his camp and can be both seen and heard
ents). As a boy, to earn money, he began trapping animals such as muskrats in the marshes of New Jersey. His parents did not speak English, so Nelson would often assist them in translating
to make sure they were not taken advantage of. However, when his mother died and his father remarried, Nelson ran away from home, heading west. Hopping freight trains, Nelson first ended up in Colorado, then eventually in Mexico. While here, he was arrested by the Federales under suspicion of
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