Mississippi's record for heaviest alligator lasted 168 times longer than the previous one, albeit just one week.
Dalco Turner of Gluckstadt established a new mark at a whopping 741.5 pounds Sunday, and also tied the record for longest at 13 feet, 6.5 inches, with a giant reptile from Bayou Pierre in Claiborne County.
It beat the record of 727 pounds set the previous Sunday, which beat a 724.5-pounder weighed one hour earlier. The three gators are the first ones ever in the public lands hunting program to top 700 pounds.
It was Turner's first gator hunt.
"Pretty good start, huh?" said Turner, 30, a freight dispatcher. "It was a lot of fun."
Turner was fortunate to have experienced friends, John and Jennifer Ratcliff of Canton, to help.
"We all shoot 3D archery together on weekends and I told Dalco this spring he ought to enter the gator drawing," Jennifer Ratcliff said. "I told him not to worry, that we had the boat and everything else."
Turner did, and got drawn in the coveted Southwest Zone.
The Ratcliffs, who once held the record for longest gator from 2006 to 2008 on Barnett Reservoir, knew where to go.
They launched at Port Gibson, ran down the Mississippi River and turned into Bayou Pierre. They immediately started hunting.
"We just knew it was a good area," John Ratcliff said. "We went to the mouth of James Creek and started."
Trying to get Turner's runt gator - limit is two, but only one can exceed 7 feet - first, they hooked a 7-foot-3 gator they released.
"Then we hooked and lost a 10 footer," Turner said. "We actually passed the record gator and didn't get a good look. We thought he was about 9 feet. But after we lost the 10, we went back and found him swimming in the middle. We got behind him and John said we ought to give him a try."
John Ratcliff's first cast bounced off the monster's back. The gator submerged, but came up closer and Ratcliff's second cast was on the money.
"He set the hook in its tail, handed me the rod and said 'hold on' laughing," Turner said. "Believe me, hold on was all I could do and it wasn't easy."
Fortunately, the gator stuck mostly to open water. The hunters eventually got two more rod hooks and a hand line hook into it.
"We got him up the first time, but he surged and pulled three of the four hooks," Turner said. "Then he just got mad and went to the bottom."
Eventually, enough hooks were engaged and two and a half hours into the fight, the gator came up. He was snared twice around the head before being dispatched with one shot from a .410 shotgun.
"We drug him over to a sandbar, then had to go find these other hunters we'd seen to come help us load him," Jennifer Ratcliff said. At 4:30 a.m. Sunday, the beast was loaded.
That afternoon, the Ratcliffs wanted the length certified.
"We knew he was close to the length record, but we didn't even think about the weight," Jennifer Ratcliff said "Somebody said we ought to check his weight. I'm glad we did."
Biologist Ricky Flynt certified the length and weight. He measured the belly girth at 65 inches and its tail girth at 46.