updated 10/1/2007 8:24:22 PM ET 2007-10-02T00:24:22

Ed Long thought he was shooting at a snapping turtle, but got a surprise when he pulled his trophy from the Milwaukee River: a 4-foot-long alligator.

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Long had been in the river Saturday hunting for ducks.

“At first, I thought it was a turtle tail,” he said. “The it turned and came back at me. I seen the eyes come out of the water, but my brain didn’t click. This is Wisconsin. There’s not supposed to be gators in Wisconsin.”

When the reptile submerged again, Long fired and stunned it. He called to his cousin, who prodded the 25-pound animal with a stick and then ran when it moved.

“We both thought nobody is going to believe us,” Long said. “We made a decision to bring it back dead or alive, and more likely dead.”

The animal appeared to have died from a shot to the head. The cousins dragged it to a field and then went to their uncle’s home for help bringing it in.

“I’m still just absolutely 100 percent shocked,” said Long’s uncle, Herb Sagan. “You’ve got a better chance of shooting a 30-point buck in Wisconsin than a gator.”

A Department of Natural Resources warden said they had broken no law in removing the invasive species.

Long, 31, of Greenfield, is calling taxidermy shops about preserving the alligator.

“I’d like to have it mounted,” he said. “Or at least get a belt or wallet out of it.”

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