Within hours after the news broke about a team of Alabama hunters taking a monster alligator early in that state’s season, it created envy — and some anxiety — among Mississippi sportsmen with permits for the Aug. 29-Sept. 8 season.
The fascinating, entertaining and, at times, frightening story on AL.com of how the five people captured the 15-foot, 1,011.5-pound lizard impressed their peers, and left others wondering “what if?”
“That thing is longer than my boat but I would risk sinking it,” posted Josh Suffin on the popular Facebook page, Mississippi Alligator Hunters.
“Wow. Just wow!” posted another.
That the Alabama team went through nearly all 24 of the hooks they had in the boat, didn’t go unnoticed by hunters on other websites.
“Rethinking my hook arsenal ... well, there goes another $100,” posted one hunter.
“Thinking that buying the 65-pound braid because it was a lot cheaper than the 100- and 150-pound braid might have been stupid,” posted another.
Hunters questioning their gear have time to adjust. Mississippi’s public land season opens at noon on Friday, Aug. 29. It ends at noon Sept. 8.
Biologist Ricky Flynt, who heads the alligator program of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, was quick to point out one important lesson from the Alabama story — make a clean kill shot.
Posted Flynt: “Read the account of the hunt ... moral of story ... take your time and make a well-placed shot once you have your gator noosed/snared.”
According to the story, the hardest part of the hunt — and the most dangerous when you consider the thrill ride the beast took the hunters on across the shallow, stumpy part of the Alabama River — took place after the permit holder, Mandy Stokes, first shot the alligator, which was hooked by three fishing lines and a rope, all wrapped on cleats on the 17-foot boat.
The gator’s head was too far under the water, making the 20-gauge shotgun blast more aggravating than fatal.
According to the AL.com report, the irate lizard took off with the boat in tow, finally smashing it into a stump and spilling all its occupants in a pile on the deck.
Can Mississippi produce a gator of such gargantuan proportions?
“So AL raised the bar...only need another 18 inches to beat them,” posted avid hunter Wade Robinson on the Facebook site.
All four of Mississippi’s public alligator hunting records were broken during the 2014 season:
* Heaviest male: 741.5 pounds (Bayou Pierre, Southwest Zone).
* Longest male: 13 feet, 7 inches (Yazoo River, West Central Zone).
* Heaviest female: 295.3 pounds (Pascagoula River, Southeast Zone).
* Longest female: 10 feet (same gator listed as heaviest female).