After passing up a few gators they said were approaching 11 feet and even 12 feet, a trio of hunters continued into the night of Aug. 28 on the Yazoo River in search of a giant.
There was an even bigger one out there, one they had seen during scouting.
Glace Rone of Kosciusko led the pack, which also included Rankin County native Cody Armstrong, who is a Wounded Warrior, and Holmes County native Kristy Ingold.
What they saw next blew their minds and had them questioning if they were prepared for the challenge. It was a monster.
“We could only see his eyes and nostrils above the surface of the water, but we knew looking at the distance between the two that he was a little bigger than expected,” Rone said. “I turned to Cody and Kristy and said, ‘I don’t know if we have the equipment for this gator, but we are trying him. We just have to keep him out of the logs.’”
The trio discussed a plan, and said a prayer for what would happen next. Ingold, the permit holder, told Rone to take the first cast on this gator, and for Armstrong to be ready with a hand-line as a backup.
If all went as planned, Armstrong then would snare this gator, and Ingold would take the shot. And, things went exactly as planned.
Rone got his chance and put a perfect cast right across the gator’s back. The fight was on.
“It was kind of like hooking a dragon in the tail with an Abu Garcia reel,” he said.
The gator took off immediately and stayed at it for 30 minutes, circling and, thankfully, staying away from major snags. Tiring, it came up in Armstrong’s range with the hand line. He connected.
“We had a better chance of getting this gator once Cody got a good hook set with the hand-line,” Rone said. “Kristy grabbed the snare, handed it to Cody and he snared him.”
Gators of such size do not often cooperate, and this one seemed more than just a little irritated at being caught in a wire snare.
“He pulled the boat another 60 yards up river,” Rone said. “At this point we were trying to wear him out, but it was not working on that giant.”
Rone put pressure on with the big rod and reel, and Armstrong held tight to both the handline and the snare, and finally the giant came to the surface and gave Ingold a shot.
The shotgun roared, and the gator rolled.
“We knew we had him at that point,” Armstrong said.
Confident and overwhelmed with excitement, Rone and Armstrong jumped in the water to pull the gator to the bank. In hindsight, Rone said, that was probably not a good idea.
“Little did we know at the time, he was not dead,” he said. “We had pulled him onto the bank somewhat, and taped his mouth shut, when the gator came to life again. So Cody stayed sitting on the back of the gator and pushed him more towards the bank while I grabbed the shotgun and put another shot in him.”
The hunters had won, but did not know that up to that point had been the easy part.
“It took us over two hours to roll this dinosaur into the boat,” Rone said. “Cody and I got in the water and pushed him up while Kristy pulled from the inside of the boat. People ask how we did it, and I tell them I am clueless.
“Jesus helped us, that’s all I know.”
They were many miles from the boat ramp and the now overloaded boat was slow, the trip back to the ramp required over 90 minutes.
“He almost sank the boat literally,” Rone said. “It took us 10 hours from when we first saw him at 3 a.m. on Monday morning until we could get it weighed and measured.”
The results: 13 feet, one inch and 694 pounds, The gator’s belly girth was 65 inches and its tail girth 47 inches.
“Record or no record, we’re just happy to be new members of the 13-foot club,” Rone said.