Mississippi’s state record for the heaviest and longest alligator has been broken once again – less than a week after the previous records were smashed.
Beth Trammell of Madison took the title for Mississippi’s heaviest alligator with her 723.5-pound harvest, only to be bested an hour later by Dustin Bockman of Vicksburg with his massive 727-pound beast.
But this weekend, a new state record was captured by hunter Dalco Turner of Gluckstadt.
According to unofficial measurements, the gator was 13-feet, 7-inches – ever so slightly longer than the current record.
Then came time for the weigh-in – 741.5 pounds.
Gatorslayers Turner, John Ratcliff of Canton, Jennifer Ratcliff of Canton and Jimmy Greer of Canton have now claimed the new state record for the heaviest male alligator.
‘It was around midnight when we initially saw this one,’ said Mr Turner to The Clarion-Ledger. ‘We passed it by the first time. We really didn’t think he was big enough to go after.’
After drifting on a little way, the team turned around but saw the gator for a second time.
It was a battle between the alligator and the team.
Despite hooking the gator with three lines, the powerful reptile was able to break free.
‘He broke three lines, and I had the only hook that stayed in him the whole time,’ said Mr Turner.
‘It was mass confusion,’ said Jennifer Ratcliff. ‘As organized as you think you are, when you hook one, everything goes crazy.’
As the monster came near the boat, the gator began snapping and biting so hard he began to break his teeth.
It took an hour for the gator to be secured.
They had to wait for some additional hunters to come by and help drag the beast into the boat.
‘Even with with these two guys, it was very hard, and we were wore out,’ said John Ratcliff. ‘If it wouldn’t have been for those two guys, we would have never gotten him in the boat.’
Their story is similar to that less than a week earlier when three gator records were set within a few hours of alligator hunting season opening.
A 10ft reptile, weighing 295.3lb, took the heaviest and longest titles for a female alligator.
Just a few hours later however, first-time hunter Beth Trammell, of Madison, helped haul in a 723.5lb male alligator. Her catch broke the state record, but again, only for a few hours.
Later in the day UPS worker Dustin Bockman was part of a three-man team who caught a 13ft long, 727lb beast from the Mississippi.
‘We’re going to cook it for sure,’ he told Gulf Live. ‘There’s plenty for me and everybody else.’
Alligators had nearly been hunted to extinction in Mississippi in the 1960s but a successful conservation program now means the state needs controlled hunting of the reptiles.
It offers permits to a select number of people each year, who are able to hunt in public waters from August 30 to September 9.
It took Mr Bockman, his brother and a friend, nearly 12 hours to catch the huge gator.
After two hours of trailing it, they got close enough to shoot it with a crossbow, which is where the fight between man and beast began, the Clarion-Ledger reported.
‘He would go to the bottom and sit like a log. You couldn’t do nothing with him,’ Mr Bockman said.
Compared to what came next, reeling the 727lb beast in was nothing.
After it was dead, the hunters were faced with the dilemma of how to get the carcass in their boat.
It took four hours of tugging before they gave up, and rested their catch on a sandbar as they waited for help.
The three men then waited for more than two hours for reinforcements to arrive.
‘Tired, hungry, we’d been pulling on a 700lb gator for four hours, and we really needed a nap at that point,’ Mr Bockman said.
As they made their way back to have it officially weighed and measured, they heard another hunter had caught a gator weighing more than 700lb and feared their hopes of glory would fade.
However, they were soon declared the record breakers.
The story of their catch was echoed by first-time hunter Ms Trammell, and her team of six, who took more than four hours to catch, kill and tow to shore their 723.5lb beast.
When she first saw their alligator surface, she said: ‘Oh my gosh, it’s the Loch Ness Monster.’
‘It took about four hours to get it in the boat,’ Ms Trammell said. ‘We had to flag another boat down to help us out it was so big.’
After taking the record for the heaviest alligator Mr Bockman plans to use its skin to make a gun strap and a picture frame.
Ms Trammell is making arrangements to have her gator butchered for meat. ‘I think my brother-in-law is going to get the head mounted,’ she added.
Mississippi’s wildlife management team believe more records could be broken one day soon.
‘I expect we’re going to break 14ft one day,’ alligator program coordinator Ricky Flynt told WAFB.
‘They’re long-lived animals. We know they can live 50 to 60 years in captivity, who knows how long they can live in the wild.’