Hunters in Mississippi kicked off gator hunting season by landing a record alligator weighing more than 800 pounds on the Yazoo River over the weekend. But it wasn't an easy feat; the giant beast took four men approximately seven hours and cost them several broken lines and tackles to subdue and get it onto their boat.
The 802.5-pound gator measured in at a whopping 14 feet and 3 inches long, with a belly girth of 66 inches and a tail girth of 46.5 inches. It handily broke the previous record in Mississippi set by a gator harvested in 2017. That specimen weighed 766.5 pounds and was 14.75 inches long.
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks shared a photo of the record-breaking gator on Saturday, along with three out of four of the hunters responsible for bringing it down. One commenter aptly described the enormous creature as "nightmare material."
Donald Woods of Oxford, MS, the hunting tag holder, told Mississippi's Clarion Ledger that the group had set off onto the water right at dark. Although they quickly spotted a number of gators measuring eight to 10 feet, "that's not what we were after." But even after first setting their sights on the record gator, they didn't realize just how big it was at first.
"We knew he was wide. His back was humongous," Woods recalled. "It was like we were following a Jon boat."
The group was initially able to hang onto the gator until about 10 p.m., at which point he broke Woods' rod. "We hooked him eight or nine times and he kept breaking off. He would go down, sit and then take off," Wood said. "He kept going under logs. He knew what he was doing. The crazy thing is he stayed in that same spot."
"There was no moving him. We couldn't do anything with him," he continued. "He dictated everything we did. It was exhausting, but your adrenaline is going so you don't notice it. It was more mentally exhausting than anything because he kept getting off."
While Woods concedes that they knew they had hooked a big alligator, they were still amazed at just how wide the back and head was, describing the experience as "surreal."
"We're done with chasing big ones this year," he added. "I might even call it a career after that, honestly."