We hear stories of enormous crocodiles being caught, and with today’s photography techniques, it’s hard to get an accurate picture of the actual size.
I found an article this week that tells the story behind the biggest crocodile ever caught in Australia. A petite Polish immigrant with perfectly manicured nails killing an 8.6-metre prehistoric monster.
TheDaily Mailbroke the story of how a struggling immigrant family’s lives were changed forever when the glamorous matriarch picked up a rifle and shot a crocodile between the eyes.
Krystyna ‘Krys’ Pawlowski had no choice but to kill the beast that day in 1955 in Kaumba, in Queensland’s Gulf Country – the reptile was creeping up on her three-year-old daughter, Barbara.
‘My brother came out and saw it and yelled “Barbara, crocodile!” and my mother grabbed a rifle and shot it between the eyes,’ Krys’s son George Pawlowski told Daily Mail Australia.
That shot would make the family famous because at 8.6 metres, the reptile was, and still is, the biggest ever killed or captured
The Polish immigrants, who came to Australia in 1949 and had been struggling to get by, realised they’d struck gold when they took the beast to be skinned.
‘An old-timer in the town helped us skin the crocodile and we sent it off to a dealer in Brisbane and finished off getting 10 pounds for it,’ Mr Pawlowski said.
‘In those days 13 pounds was the basic weekly wage, so Dad (Ron Pawlowski) thought they were on to something.’
Krys would go to find fame as ‘One Shot’, the petite 5’4” crocodile hunter who would kill up to 10,000 reptiles over a 15-year hunting career with her husband – all while wearing long red nails.
Legend had it the mother-of-three only missed three shots in her lifetime and was able to hit a moving crocodile with ease – despite having never fired a rifle before she arrived in Australia just six years before her famous crocodile kill.
She was also able to skin the reptiles faster than anyone else, and she would usually do it right after the kill – on the spot amid the mangroves and mosquitoes.
After taking the 8.6-metre monster down, Ron built a small boat out of scraps and called it ‘Joey’ and the family started their new lives as crocodile hunters.
Krys became an international celebrity known for her blonde hair, glamorous style, impeccable aim, and taxidermy expertise.
‘Even though I spend hours, day and night, wading thigh-deep through mud and swamps, it’s good to catch a glint of my nail polish as I pull the trigger of the rifle,’ Krys once told reporters in Brisbane, champagne in-hand.
Mr Pawlowski backed up his father’s claim and said his mother actively refused to be ‘put down’ by her male counterparts.
‘There was this guy up north who said no one could skin a croc faster than him.
‘They had a competition one day, and she’d skinned the croc, cleaned it, salted it, rolled it up and was having a coffee before he was anywhere near finishing.’
Mr Pawlowski said his family’s greatest legacy is their work with conservation, and explained their work laid the foundations for conservation all over the world.
He is writing a book on his experiences growing up surrounded by saltwater crocodiles.