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Maxim Goes Shark Hunting!

Facing an army of toothy terrors with pro wrestler Eric Young? We’re gonna need a bigger boat.

(Photographed by Bob Croslin | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013)

“Showtime” Eric Young has battled hulking wrestlers in the ring, alligators on the bayou, even hurricanes on the open water. But today, sitting in the Gomez—a rickety two-man skiff bobbing behind a shrimp boat about six miles off the Florida Gulf Coast—the quick-witted and impressively bearded pro wrestler is confronting his most fearsome foe of all.

“Mike the shrimp boat captain saw a 450-pound bull shark hanging around earlier,” says Young. He also notes there’s also an 18- to 21-foot hammerhead named Old Hitler lurking somewhere nearby. He’s here to catch sharks for Animal Planet’s Off the Hook: Extreme Catches. I’m here because he dared Maxim to join in the heart-stopping “fun.” I put fun in quotations because I’m completely terrified.

(Photographed by Bob Croslin | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013)

We’re on a tiny boat, sitting just inches above the surface, and just recently a Florida fisherman caught a bull shark with a two-headed bull-shark fetus inside it. These aren’t just man-eaters; they’re fucking mutants!

As we wait to see what shows up to feast on the shrimp boat’s spillover, Young talks about Off the Hook, which features the admittedly amateur angler enthusiastically jumping into unusual and typically pants-shittingly dangerous types of fishing – everything from free-diving under ice in his homeland of Canada to taking a fuel-cell-equipped Jet Ski 30 miles offshore during a hurricane. “I’m a really stubborn person, which can be good sometimes – it’s probably why I’m a wrestler and why I have a television show, but it’s also why I have scars all over my body,” says Young. “I’ve been beat up on this show worse than I’ve been beat up in wrestling, and wrestling’s as physical as it gets.”

(Photographed by Bob Croslin | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013)

As if on cue, the sharks show up to our chum party. They circle like drunk college kids around a Crave Case, occasionally breaching the surface for a sniff. I’m not sure how big they are, but in my mind they seem like swimming school buses with thousands of rows of razor-sharp teeth.

(Photographed by Bob Croslin | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013)

As I try not to cry, Young tries to hook one. Time passes, swears are sworn, and in the end we come up empty-handed. And I couldn’t be happier. Being on a boat inches from these saw-toothed death machines is one thing—to have one on board with us is a whole ’nother. As the predators continue gobbling up the chum and throwing their fins in the air like they just don’t care, I ask Young how the show compares to life in the ring. “Um, I don’t know,” he replies with a mischievous smirk. “Why do we do any of this? Because it’s dangerous!”

Watch Off the Hook: Extreme Catches every Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Animal Planet. 

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