I tell ya'll it was the fight of the century. We had been hunting since right after dark. Saw less than a dozen Gators. Most of them were this year's model or last year's. Nothing legal at all. Spotted 2 at about 500 yards that appeared to be legal so we start easing up on them and they just dropped on us. Very skittish. I forgot my rod with 100 lb test line and a 12/0 treble hook, so we let them stay where they were and went on looking. Nothing, ideal habitat but no red eyes anywhere we looked.
Getting kinda tired and frustrated, we decided to call it a night around oh 2:15, 2:20 AM, so we were south of the boat ramp we launched at, so we motor off north, less than 5 minutes later, we spotted 2 in the river, so I cut off the Go-Devil and swapped to the trolling motor, turned off the head lamp and went to a Stinger flashlight that Shane had in his hand. We get right to the point of me telling Shane to throw, #1 drops at 15 yards, same with #2 but Shane tells me to keep going, so I did, well I saw the 3rd set of eyes for a moment but we had to go around a tree in the slough the Gator swam up in, to get to him, well I thought he had dropped, Shane says keep going.
As Shane rared back to throw the dang thing was less than 2 feet from the boat, I was getting out of my mouth, "Shane why are you throwing at a L". The word LOG will be forever frozen in my mind, at the second I was trying to utter the word, LOG, Shane rared back to strike and I saw SCALES, MONSTER SCALES, Shane struck true and deep with that first dart, good thing too, it enabled us in the end to harvest that Alligator but I digress. The Explosion in the water beside us, was unreal, and he took off, I grabbed the float, thinking I was going to make him drag us some, there was no holding on to that fellow, he peeled it right out of my hand. Shane was ecstatic so was I, we shook hands but I knew that the fight was just starting. He came back up at about 100 yards and hissed some but I could see the float and harpoon shaft moving swiftly in the water away from us towards some water hyacinth. At this point I know we need another dart in him but he is not cooperating, he went down under the water hyacinth and sulked for a while, at least 40 minutes or so. We realized that he had gotten hung on a stump and had come up but not moving much, we eased over to him again with the trolling motor.
Trying for a quick end, we both, took aim right behind his eys and BAM, he dove, we hauled it outa range of his jaws in case he was EXTREMELY PISSED, actually thoughts about the movie, LAKE PLACID, have gone thru my mind because of the size of his body that I saw. We motored off and let the next move be up to him. For almost 35-45 minutes he stayed down, I was hopeful that he was gone but no such luck, minor concussion maybe but he ain't gone. We are bantering back and forth because we both don't want to lose him, I tell Shane, we are NOT losing this Gator. Rigged up a 2nd dart for him and we wait, not long he is up again so once again we approach with the trolling motor and Shane hit him again in the side. Now we have 2 darts in him and he is PISSED, hissing and all. We have seen parts and all but just ain't really gotten to realize the MONSTER we have, know we have a fine one to be sure but I was thinking a very heavy 12 foot maybe.
We back off again to tire him some and by now it is 4ish, 5ish who knows, time is lost to us, the battle has been engaged and Randy ain't leaving without this Gator, I had promised Shane. He came back up but we see the floats move and know he is on the move until like a scene from Jaws, the floats disappeared, no they were not large, actually boat dock bumpers about 14 inches long maybe 6 inches in diameter but they poofed for a moment. But in just a few minutes maybe hours later it seemed, we see the floats come up but I notice they are more than 50 feet apart, I use a 50 foot piece of good nylon braid 1/4 inch rope to attach to each dart.
OMG look at that claw!
Suddenly he is up again and trying to get up on top of the floating mat of water hyacinth, we motored over and both put several more rounds into him, he drops, we waited about 15 minutes and I decided to pull him up and try to bangstick him at least one good time, well it sounded good in theory at least, we got him up alright, almost too easy, as I was loading the bangstick, he HISSED some, an ungodful GROWL and down he went.
I do tell you this, I have hunted with Alligator Guides and I guess I was paying attention when Phil told me, NEVER EVER tie the animal off until you are 100% POSITVIVELY CERTAIN, the Gator is dead, and I earned my merit badge on this one. I yelled at Shane, throw out the lines and floats, He ain't dead. We moved rather quickly about 75 yards out so I could compose myself, Yeah it was spooky and scary but I was fixing to let him have it with MR GLOCK if he had not gone down. SCARED is not the word either but having been shot at before sure helped it seemed, training always kicks in. He is still hung with the other line, this I did see, but I felt like he had pulled out the other line and he had. Pulled back to gather wits and figger the next step.
We had a 2nd boat with us watching us and taking pics and all. I am glad they were there with us, we never would have gotten him back to the ramp I don't believe, again I digress. So here we are, I am thinking after 5 AM working on 6ish and this fellow is still on this earth and we need him to pass on. He is not cooperating with that program it seems, of course he has not survived this long being totally dumb I don't think. So here we are sitting in the middle of the Flint River on the north end of Lake Blackshear with a ticked off monster and really trying to figure what he is going to do next. He made a move and made it partially under the water hyacinth mat and we panicked, we get over there where he went and he came up to let us know that he was not gone yet, and that was one LARGE MOUTH, let me tell you, well he did cooperate somewhat by turning the back of his head to us and Shane and myself both unloaded on him, I don't know 15 rounds, I ain't sure, I do know the .40 goes next time instead of the 9mm with Black Talons, he goes down but dad gum he is right back up at us and hissing like crazy.
He can't manuever in the water hyacinth and went down once again, I tell Shane we gonna have to make a hole in this mess to get to him, so I started just pulling it up and throwing it around, with him guarding me. Mr. Gator decided to come up once more and He turned his head, well Shane done had enough, and he let him have all of his .40 he had left at about 7 feet or so and after about 6-8 rounds, he turned once more as he started to fill with water and went down. That is another sound I don't think I will ever forget, the water rushing in as he went down. NOW is the time that you be thankful that the first dart is in him good, we tried to get another dart in him but it would not stay in for some reason so we gave up on that. With the adrenaline still pumping cause I know he is ours now, I managed to pull him up close but with all this water hyacinth, I told Shane we are going to have to motor out away from this stuff so we can work on him.
Shane finally agreed and we called the 2nd boat for his friend Greg to get in my boat and help us, with a prayer on my lips that the dart would hold in him, I fired up the Go-Devil and pushed us out about 30-40 yards away from the water hyacinth and I got him up once more and we realize when a claw breaks water that this thing is HUGE and LARGER than I thought, but we still have only seen bits and pieces but not all and finally we agree that he is getting tied off to the boat and we will just drag him back to the ramp. At this point we even cut the rope off the front of Shane's boat to make some lines to hold him to my boat.
2 Very tired successful hunters finally headed to the ramp.
Sometime around 7 AM I think it is, I know the sun is coming up, we finally get to the boat ramp to see our prey, it takes 4 of us to get him where we can see him and the celebration begins. I believe all of us told Shane he was buying breakfast at the ramp, which he gratefully did. A nice gentlemen loaned us a tape measure and we measured him at the ramp at 13 feet 8 inches, which I thought was close if not THE state length record, no telling what this fellow weighs, if you had told me he was gonna go 680 I would have said, NOT, I was thinking 750 to be honest. NOWWWWWWWWWW we are faced with a dilemma, how we gonna load this thing, I suggested that we turn my boat sideways and just flop him over in it then trailer my boat. After much gut straining and groaning, we managed to flop him on his back in my boat, with the tail hanging off the front of the boat, luckily the ramp where we launched has a small restaurant there so breakfast was quick easy, good and well earned.
The looks we got headed back was amazing with the tail where it was. I am starting to think it is possible that we have a record but not sure but with Shane behind me in his truck I called him and told him we needed to officially somehow weigh this thing and get it measured. I called my father to bring me the front end loading tractor to meet me at the scale and put in a call to Josh Swain, DNR Ranger for Taylor County, Josh was happy to help. Josh pulled the tape on the Gator while I held at the head. Johnny Lawhorn with the Taylor County Road Department operated the scale for me. I called to speak to the State Biologist in charge of the Alligator program this morning, 9-22-08, because I was told the Biologist was on vacation last week. I didn't speak to him today but got his email and sent him many of the pictures. Am waiting to hear from him but the lady at the DNR office in Fitzgerald told me that 13 feet 7 inches would be the new record once verified. Shane Wilson my partner in the boat got verification on 09-27-08 that we did indeed have the new state record for length in Georgia.
DNR Ranger Josh Swain assisting with measurement.
Shane and Randy with the Gator at the scale.
Monster laid out at the boat ramp.
Look at that monster. Loading up headed to the cooler with him.