It’s only been three days since the start of Mississippi’s alligator hunting season, yet a pair of parties have already submitted two record-breaking ‘gators, state wildlife officials announced Monday.
Dustin Brockman of Vicksburg, Miss., ventured with his brother and friend into the Mississippi River by motorboat early Saturday night and emerged with a 727-pound record breaker that was 13 feet, 4.5 inches long.
The previous weight record was 697.5 pounds, according to Ricky Flynt, program coordinator with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.
“We chased him for about two hours,” Brockman said. “Then we got a shot on him.”
Brockman said that it took two hours after hooking the alligator using a crossbow before they could shoot it with a shotgun. It took four hours more to get it into the boat, but Brockman said it was too heavy to do with just the three of them, so they just waited in the middle of the river for the sun to rise.
“We killed the alligator at 4 a.m.,” he said. “We waited until 6:30 (a.m.) before I called three or four more guys to help us load it into the boat.”
And just one hour prior to Brockman’s epic catch, a hunting party led by Beth Trammell of Madison, Miss., hooked a 13-foot, 5.5-inch alligator near Redwood.
The Trammell party, which included six people, broke the previous weight record with their 723.5-pound catch and held the markbefore Brockman broke it 60 minutes later.
“It took about four hours to get it in the boat,” said Trammell. “We had to flag another boat down to help us out it was so big.”
Trammell said that when they had the hefty alligator hooked, their poles were bent like “candy canes.”
The current length record, which has yet to be broken, is 13 feet, 6.5 inches. That alligator was captured on the Pascagoula River in 2008, according to the Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks department.
Brockman, who had never hunted alligator before this weekend, said the majority of the hunting occurs at night when it’s easier to spot the reptiles' eyes with a flashlight.
“It’s a lot easier to find them because their eyes reflect,” he said. “In the daytime, if they’re lying on a bank underneath the tree, you ain’t going to see them.”
Brockman said he plans to use the gator's skin for a gun strap and a picture frame and will eat the meat after providing some to his friends.
“We’re going to cook it for sure,” he said. “I got a bunch of people who want some, and there’s plenty for me and everybody else.”
Trammell said she plans to get the meat back from the processor as early as Friday.
“We’ll eat the meat,” she added. “I think my brother in law is going to get the head mounted.”
And the Trammell party will be back out on the water this weekend, hoping to catch another record breaker.