Mississippi’s much-anticipated public water and private water seasons open on Friday, and if the past is any indication, records will begin falling immediately.

Now over a decade old, alligator hunting in Mississippi has become a passion and hunters have gotten better at finding and harvesting the largest gators each year. In recent years, almost all size (length and weight) for both sexes are broken each year, often more than once in a season. 

Because of an alligator’s instinct to be remote, MDWFP alligator program director Ricky Flynt sees that trend continuing since many areas that gators have always lived have yet to be hunted by humans. 

“Their secretive nature in remote areas coupled with extreme difficulty to successfully capture and subdue the large specimens in aquatic habitats often characterized with muddy water filled with stumps, logs, floating and submerged vegetation, and underwater den holes, makes it quite an accomplishment to be successful,” he said. “All these factors provide an upper hand to the alligators and practically assure the potential for new alligator hunting records for many years to come.”

Flynt tries to personally certify each possible record, a task that keeps him on the road for most of the season.

“It can be crazy, especially when we have a new record within an hour or two or even the next day,” he said. “But I enjoy it.”

In 2015 for example, the records for longest and heaviest bull alligators were both broken on the same day. Flynt’s travel would have been shortened if the record heavyweight, an 822-pounder caught by Clayton Gibson of Natchez, hadn’t had what the biologist said was “over a half foot of tail missing.” The brute was just 13 feet, ¼-inch long, much shorter than the 13-feet, 7¾-incher caught the same night by Angelia Rivers of Ellisville.

Mississippi Alligator Records

Public waters

Longest male: 13 feet, 7 ¾ inches; Angelia Rivers of Ellisville; Aug. 28, 2015 on the Yazoo River in West Central Zone.

Heaviest male: 822 pounds; Clayton Gibson of Natchez; Aug. 28, 2015 in a chute off Mississippi River near Natchez in Southwest Zone.

Longest female: 10 feet; Brandon Maskew of Ellisville; Aug. 31, 2013 on the Pascagoula River in Southeast Zone.

Heaviest female: 319 pounds; Craig Jones of Mendenhall; Aug. 30, 2015 on Eagle Lake in West Central Zone.

Private waters

Longest male: 14 feet, ¼ inch; Kennie Crechale of Morton; Aug. 29 2015 in Warren County.

Heaviest male: 826 pounds; Kennie Crechale of Morton; Aug. 29 2015 in Warren County.

Longest female: 10 feet, ½ inch; Jonathon Kent of Greenwood; Sept. 19 2015 in Issaquena County.

Heaviest female: TIE at 283 pounds; Kevin Goza of Flowood Sept. 25 2010 in Issaquena County; AND, Jonathon Kent of Greenwood; Sept. 19 2015 in Issaquena County.