A group of hunters were trying to find an alligator that would best 13 feet in length. They found it early Monday morning, and in doing so broke Mississippi’s public-water state record.
According to the Clarion-Ledger, Bryan Burnside, Anthony Acy, Colby Acy, and Stephen Brady had been trying for a big gator all weekend. They were hunting off the Mississippi River late Sunday night and had already landed two, but neither made 12 feet—no dice. They moved downstream a few hundred yards and came across another, this one clearly big enough to suit them.
“He kind of turned and came straight toward the boat, which is unusual,” Burnside told the Ledger. “Anthony casted and Stephen casted and they both hooked up at the same time. They couldn’t move him. He was just a dead-weight monster.
“Then we set Colby up on the deck and he got on him. We had three rods on him at that point in time.”
They got the big male up to the side of the boat, but then things went south, fast. It started tangling up the lines, threw two of the three hooks, and pulled the boat down so low to the waterline that it began taking on water.
“Nobody panicked, but we thought there was a good possibility he would get away with only one hook on him,” Burnside said.
The hunters quickly got two extra hooks into the twisting beast, drew it back alongside the boat, snared two of its legs, and dispatched it. By the early hours of Monday morning, after an hour-and-a-half battle, they were finally in possession of the monster alligator.
The group measured the gator while in the boat and came up with 13 feet, 8 inches; however, they couldn’t straighten it out fully. Ricky Flynt, coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks’ alligator program, later put the official length at 14 feet, ¾ inches. It weighed 766½ pounds, had a belly girth of 69 inches, and had a tail girth of 43 inches.
The gator easily broke the previous public-water state record, set August 28, 2016, when Tiffany Wienke of Vicksburg took a 13-foot, 7-and-7/8-inch male. That gator weighed 686 pounds, had a belly girth of 59 inches, and had a tail girth of 43 inches.
This also bests the private-lands record of 14 feet, ¼ inches, taken in 2015.
Burnside was in possession of the alligator permit used on this male, so his name will appear on the official record. Still, he was quick to admit that it was a group effort and wouldn’t have been possible without his friends.
Mississippi’s 2017 alligator season opened August 25 at noon and runs through noon on September 4. According to the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Parks, the season has already seen numerous gators taken, with many in the 10- to 12-foot range. Who knows? The state record might even be broken again this season.
“I know there’s more out there,” Flynt told the Ledger. “There’s going to be a 15-footer taken one day, I’m telling you, but the 14-foot club is an elite club. That’s for sure.”