2008; Human Skull found in a swamp dive.                     


Gus was always around guns and knives which his father collected and displayed. It’s part of our culture and our heritage and back in the day was considered perfectly normal and acceptable behavior. Gus’s father bought him his first rifle soon after he was born. It was a single shot, lever action, .22 sized especially for kids. At age five, Gus was already an excellent shot and went rabbit hunting with his dad. That was something they both enjoyed very much.



Gus and his 22 rifle 
First day of Pre-K.

Gus had his first close encounter with an Alligator during one of their many duck hunts. On the way back from the Island the boat motor stalled. They sat motionless as the boat settled in the marshy flats. Gus’s father attempted to pull on the starter cord but the motor failed to turn over. They looked to the side of the boat to see something large surfacing. It seamed like an enormous tree trunk floating in the water. That tree trunk was an Alligator!



Gus described the details of the creature being larger than the boat as he remembers it and how frightened he was that day. The Alligator was an animal that Gus respected and feared and often even had haunting nightmares about. For some odd reason, despite of all the crazy dreams of being attacked by an alligator, Gus was fascinated by them. He wanted to know all about them.

Family at the Miami Serpentarium.
                    Gus at the Serpentarium holding an Indigo.                    

Gus went to Kensington Park, Silver Bluff, and Emerson Elementary Schools. He never had the opportunity to settle in one school due to his parents divorce. Times were hard then, Gus frequently moved to ever more affordable residences with his mother and younger sister. Moving around was not easy, but making new friends at school was never hard for Gus. Gus’s strong character and good nature attracted many friends, and the one’s that disliked him and picked a fight would became his best of friends as soon as they learned that Gus wasn’t scared of anything and wouldn’t back down.



Gus was never one to hold a grudge. He knew it was better to have friends than enemies. If something was said or done that Gus didn’t like, his typical response was to confront the offender, and ask them why they did or said what they did. Sometimes talking, sometimes fighting, until the situation was resolved. Most of those school boy confrontations involved Gus defending his sister or his friends. Big hearted Gus was often the one who got in trouble due to his unyielding sense of what was right.



Gus had many hobbies growing up, like drawing and painting with water colors. He was a talented kid. His favorite games were hide and seek, and play fighting which most of the times ended up in a real fight with the older neighbor hood kids. Martial Arts and weapons were very influential in his child hood. He studied Judo and Jiu-Jitsu at age six and throughout his teens, he also studied Shotokan Karate. After school Gus enjoyed playing all kinds of sports, but his favorites were dodge ball, kickball, and softball. He even played baseball and was the catcher for his little league team.



                                         Holloween dressed as Punk Rockers.
Gator Land Zoo with family.  

The best family trips, Gus remembers, were in those days of middle school. The family often drove to central Florida to visit the many attractions. The one place that Gus was really excited to see was the famous “Gator Land Zoo” He remembered seeing the brochures and how awesome it would be to see the hundreds of Alligators at the attraction. It reminded him of the times at the Miami Serpentarium, which had long since closed. Gator Land was a must see. The place was just as it was described in the brochures. It was breath taking to watch those Gators jump high out of the water to snatch their meals. Gus said it was the best place ever! 

At the World Famous Gator Land Zoo. 
High School Photo at Coral Park Sr High. 

                                                 First Dove hunt with friends.


 Then came the applying for a driver’s license. At age 16 Gus was already driving. He was not driving the vehicle of choice among his peers, which was a 4X4 Jeep or a Bronco, instead he was given a beat up, old, Ford Thunderbird by his step dad. The thing looked like a Cadillac and the hood was as long as a bus. It was a great ride, and a lot better than walking. Gus enjoyed driving it. That poor car had been taken by Gus over or through every puddle, ditch, dip, crack, curb, median, mud hole, gravel road and levy in south Florida. In Gus’s mind, the T-Bird was a 4X4. What it lacked in ground clearance it made up for in forward momentum. He even strapped his boat on the roof of the car when going to his favorite fishing hole.
 First cars never seem to last though, and the T- Bird lost its thunder one weekend down in Homestead, Florida, while Gus was dove hunting by the Steel Bridge, when the engine caught fire and everything under the hood was destroyed. It was sad to see the T-Bird Roast like that. Five months later Gus received his income tax check and with the help of his stepfather and mother, Gus bought a 4X4 truck. It was a beige,1985 Toyota. He loved the little truck, but there was one little problem, Gus didn’t know how to drive a stick shift. Like everything else Gus puts his mind to, he was soon a master of the intricacies of three pedal driving and tight lines at the McDonald’s drive through were not a problem. 
Once he was satisfied with the truck and his ability to drive it, he decided it needed a name. A light bulb lit up and the name came to mind, it was called “The SWAMP RAT” in honor of his friends. Gus bought some contact paper and since he was a superb artist, he drew the letters and cut it out to put on his truck. The Swamp Rat needed some modifications to make it perfect, as all trucks do, so it was modified with a 4 inch front leaf spring lift and six inch rear shackle lift, a 3 inch body lift, and 38 inch Super Swamper tires. Swamp Rat was one of the meanest little trucks on or off road in these parts in the late 80s and 90s.


 A day mudding at 8th st with friend Lisa.
      The Autobiography of 

       Gus  "ONEBEAR" Batista 

My friend, Gus Onebear Batista

          What can I tell you about my friend Gus? What do you want to know? I suppose the best thing would be to tell you about how Gus was raised, about the things he did, and what he learned that made him the man he is today. I’ll tell you something about Gus Onebear Batista, but I warn you, it will change you. I consider myself fortunate to know Gus as I do, and I feel I’m a better man for knowing him. This is my friend. This is the man. This is Gus, known also as Onebear.



   The scars on his body tell many stories about his past, his struggles and sacrifices. His passion, theories and methods are viewed by some as foolish and surreal. His contemporaries often portray his techniques as unusual, but fearless. Behind his rough image there’s another side to Gus, a side that only the people that know him well get to see. Gus has a truly kind and humble nature. Gus was born in 1969 in South Florida. Gus remembers his childhood as a simpler time, a time of church, old western films, Tarzan episodes on television, and pony rides at the ranch on the weekends. Gus was a quiet kid growing up. He offered no clue to the outrageous life that would come later. Since Gus was old enough to walk, the boy was like the calm before the storm. If all was too quiet, “beware,” that usually meant he was up to no good. Baby Gus would never sit still, and numerous times when his parents thought he was asleep in his crib he would find a way to escape, and venture outside. They often found Gus outside, chasing the ducks, chickens, and roosters, or up in the trees. Fences were no barrier to little Gus and he was beginning to show the fearlessness that he is known for now. His parents often spent hours looking for him, only to find him curled up asleep in the dog house next door. The neighbor’s notoriously vicious and unapproachable German Shepherd guard dog curled up next to him. Gus was fascinated with all animals, they were like a magnet to him, and he’d throw a fit if his parents wouldn’t let him get an up-close and personal look at the critters.






Duck hunting in the Everglades was also something that the Batista men enjoyed and Gus went with his father and uncles for the first time at age six. Near a small island where they had built a fire to stay warm, Gus sat in the front of the home made camouflaged wooden boat they used as a blind. Before sunrise, the decoys were placed on the waters edge waiting for the ducks to fly. It was all very exciting to little Gus.





    After a Duck hunt with his father. 


                                               His heros has always been Cowboys.

  Gus convinced his parents to take him to the Miami Serpentarium. These visits were always an exciting family outing. The place was filled with snakes from all around the world. Crocodiles, Alligators, Caimans, you name it and it was there, but the best thing to view at the Serpentarium was the amazing shows put on by the Serpentarium’s founder, Dr. Bill Haast. He was always dressed in a white lab coat and he would catch and handle the worlds most venomous snakes to milk them to create antivenin that would be shipped all over the world to save the lives of people who were unfortunate enough to have been bitten by one of these snakes. The show was out in the open. The audience sat on the ground at a safe distance from the action and watched Dr Haast do his thing. Little Gus often mimicked Dr Haast’s handling techniques with the rubber snakes that were purchased at the Serpentarium’s gift shop, putting on his own snake shows for his family and friends at home. To say that Dr. Haast was an influence on young Gus would be an understatement.


                                                Dr Bill Hasst With a King Cobra.
                                           Gus Junior and Senior after Judo class.
                                                           Gus and his sister.

Gus attended W.R. Thomas Middle School. It was 1981, the era of B-Boys, Hip-Hop music and Break Dancing. Middle school was nothing like elementary school. For one thing, the hallways were packed and social groups were very divided. It seemed that everyone was part of their own little clique. You had the rockers and the rednecks. The rednecks listened to country music, wore flannel shirts, Levis blue jeans, and had a trucker wallet with the chain attached.


 The rockers grew their hair long, and wore spandex pants, they listened to heavy metal and some even wore make up. Then you had the Blacks, Hispanics and the G.Q’s, the most fashionable of the groups. The  girls were hot! Looking like Madonna or Cindy Lauper vs. the G.Q. boys looking like Boy George from Culture Club. Fights always broke out at school due to the members of the various groups’ inability to appreciate each other’s differences. Despite the cliques, Gus never had problems making friends. He befriended everybody and no one ever questioned his affiliations with the other groups. Gus was liked and respected by all.


 As a matter of fact, Gus told me that he never got in a fight during his time in middle school. Gus learned much. At age 13 he was introduced by his redneck friends to chewing tobacco or dip. During P.E. they would all take a pinch of “Copenhagen” and start “dipping and tripping,” due to the physical affects of the strong tobacco. Bass fishing with his friends at the nearby canals and lakes was frequently enjoyed. Gus’s B-boy friends invited him to parties and taught him to dance. He actually got really good at breakdancing. He perfected many moves like the Top Rock, Pop, Head Spin, Windmill, Flair and Swipe which he wow the crowd at parties, Power 96 Jams at the Dade County Youth Fair stage, Castle Park, and the Beat Club, he even battled at the RUN - DMC concert. Gus also got into a little mischief. Mostly, graffiti. Gus’s tag name was Frisky, and frisky he was, which made him quite popular with the girls.


                                                       W.R. Thomas with friends.


             Soon to be a reality, he just doesn't know it yet!      

   Gus’s years attending WR Thomas ended and he went on to Miami Coral Park Senior High School. Gus remembered his first days at school walking around the halls, clueless and lost, but it didn’t take long for him to figure it out. School was great! Gus was popular and had no more problem making friends at the new school than he had at the last one. His socializing skills were sky high, rocketing thru the roof. Lifting weights, and hanging out with friends was a great pastime, in and out of school. At age 15 Gus got his first job, working for Winn Dixie as a bag boy.
Gus was accepted for worker’s ed. at school so he could leave early and get to work at a certain time. Then, when he wasn’t working at Winn-Dixie, Gus would cut grass and wash cars for extra money. Gus was very industrious. He started meeting some really cool guys at high school, guys who shared a common interest with him. Like Gus, these new friends were hunting and fishing fanatics.That was all they talked about.
  It brought back to Gus those old feelings and the memories of excitement and adventure from his childhood. Gus rediscovered a passion that was always in him. Gus’s first hunt with friends was dove hunting, one of his favorites. Then, they went hunting for ducks, snipes and quails. Yes, readers, there really is a marsh bird called a snipe, and snipe hunting is not just the prank the Boy Scouts pull in the middle of the night. lBass fishing during the school lunch breaks was fun, and sometimes when the fishing was good, Gus and the boys would forget to go back to class. Sometimes they skipped school to go hunting. The group called themselves "The Swamp Rats."  Off season, they would go trap and skeet shooting at Trail Glades Range or sighting in their bows at the archery range to maintain their skills.

Hunting, fishing, and shooting, became year long events. It was good clean fun and the best thing was that none of the group ever drank alcohol, or did drugs or smoked cigarettes. Their social life at night was hanging out at bonfires, parties and cruising through Coconut Grove. Most of their friends outside of the group were very much involved in drugs and alcohol, but luckily for Gus he wasn’t easily influenced. Gus was a big dude. He remembered that while everyone was hanging out and popping tops of a beer and sparking up a joint, he was chugging down a quart of milk and crunching on corn nuts. No one ever dared make fun of him. Gus was just Gus, a loyal friend, and a good man, but mean as a rattlesnake if confronted.l with 




                                           Gus's Toyota on his wedding day.







Subpages (1): part 2