The Muddy Water Maniacs, a team of alligator hunters from Rankin County, cut loose two big bulls overnight, not impressed by their measurements.
And, they were both over 11 feet.
The decision paid off because shortly after 2 a.m. on Monday, they spotted another gator, hooked it, nearly lost it, then finally captured it and killed it and earned a spot in the record books.
Bryan Burnside’s behemoth is the longest alligator ever caught in a Mississippi hunting season, establishing a new length record of 14 feet, ¾ inch. The previous record was 14 feet, ¼ inch caught on private waters in 2015. The previous public water record was 13-7¾ in 2016.
“When Ricky Flynt stretched that measuring tape, and I saw it go past 13-8, I felt pretty good,” Burnside said. “I knew the record was 13 feet, 7¾ inches so I knew we had it. Then, he kept going, and going, and hit 14 feet and I said ‘whoa.’ I couldn’t believe it.”
Flynt confirmed the record by email shortly after lunch on Monday and sent pictures verifying the catch.
Burnside and teammates Stephen Brady of Brandon and Anthony (father) and Colby Acy of Sand Hill, are secretive on the exact site of their catch.
You certainly can’t blame them for that. It is home to monster gators.
“Let’s just say it was on a body of water just off and connected to the Mississippi River near Natchez,” he said. “It’s the same place we caught a 12-8 last year. We didn’t even scout it this year. We’ve been there before and we knew a lot of big gators live there.”
That’s why letting the two 11-footers go was an easy choice.
“We caught one earlier that we got to the boat, snared it, taped its mouth and tied its legs and actually got it in the boat,” Burnside said. “We taped it out at over 11 inches with a 58-inch girth, then we talked about it and decided to let it go.
“We moved up about 100 yards, and we saw another big one. We hooked it up, got it to the boat, and never even put a snare on it. It was another 11 footer and we let it go.”
The foursome started up the slough again, and ...
“We hadn’t gone 200 or 300 feet and we ran into this one,” Burnside said. “We could tell it was big, but we had no idea it was a record. It was cruising down a bank and then did something I’ve never seen a big gator do — it turned and came straight at our boat. Anthony and I have been hunting gators together ever since the first season (2005), and I’ve seen smaller gators do it some time, but never a big one. He turned and came right at us.”
While it made for a shorter cast, it didn’t make a big target.
“It made a slight turn and both Anthony and Stephen made casts at almost the exact second,” Burnside said. “Anthony’s hook caught it just behind the head and Stephen’s got him just in front of the tail. Then we got a third hook in him.”
The hook-up was at two. Burnside’s kill shot came at 3:45. In between, there was a scary moment.
“He put up a big fight, like big ones always do, but we had three hooks in him and we got him to the boat pretty quick, and I got the snare around his head,” Burnside said. “That’s when things got a little crazy. I don’t know how it happened and don’t understand how it could, but the snare just popped off over its head. Then two of the hooks came loose.
“All we had was the one hook or line in the gator. Anthony was still hooked up. But we didn’t really panic. We kept it together and quickly got two more hooks in him. Colby got a cast and hooked up and gave it to Stephen and then Colby got another one in him.”
The tired gator was all but done. The hunters got it to the boat quickly.
“And, this time we got two snares on him,” Broadside said. “We decided he was big enough and we killed it.”
Mississippi hunters get two alligators per permit and only one can exceed 7 feet. Broadside had killed one between 6 and 7 feet the previous morning and no other team member had a tag. The decision to kill the gator ended their season, unless they take another permit holder on a hunt.
“We had a pretty hard time getting his head in the boat, but once you do that it’s pretty easy to roll them in the boat,” Broadside said. “We had him in my boat and he was curled up a bit and we measured him at about 13 feet, 8 inches with our tape. I knew the record was 13-7¾ so we measured him again and got the same kind of measurement.
“We knew we were close to the record and may have had it, but we didn’t know for sure. We had no idea it was 14 feet.”
The alligator carried 766.5 pounds on that frame, far short of the weight records of 822 pounds for public waters and 826 pounds for private waters.
The public water season continues through noon on Labor Day.