There’s nothing much more powerful than an outraged alligator on your line, just inches from the boat. This year’s special alligator season is anticipated by people of all ages, but the gators are not tame; they are extremely dangerous, as many hunters have learned when trying to wrestle them into a boat.
Krystin Waller Smith of Brandon is fearless and relishes the opportunity to hunt anything that walks, swims or flies in the Magnolia State. It should come as no surprise that she would hunt and wrestle alligators. She drew a gator hunt last year and had an opportunity to harvest a two alligators, which she had done before.
Shortly after spotting a monster gator, Smith hooked it, and the gator exploded through the water’s surface fighting wildly before it dove down to the depths with Smith holding on with all the strength she could muster. With the gator pulling hard, she slid across the boat’s deck and narrowly averted being pulled overboard.
“That gator pulled the 20-foot Lowe boat around like it was a cork floating on the water,” Smith said. “I was using a Gatortaker hook to catch him, and it took three hooks, a harpoon and two snares to finally subdue him and get him to the boat.
“After getting only 3 hours of sleep in 48 hours, and after Hunter Parrett spent four years trying to catch this one, I finally filled my big gator tag and harvested my personal best at 10 feet, 5 inches, with a belly girth of 441/2 inches and a tail girth of 31 inches. He weighed 452 pounds. It was all I could do to hang on and stay in the boat.”
Since Mississippi’s alligator population has exploded and they have become a nuisance, eating pets and, in some instances, attacking people, their numbers had to be reduced.
“This year, my goal was to harvest both alligators and fill my tags,” Smith said. “I wanted a huge, runt gator to beat my personal best, and I wanted to top my season off with a monster gator, too.”
Smith quickly caught and dispatched a 6-foot-11 5/8 runt the first night out.
“I was fortunate to hunt with a strong team led by Hunter Parrett and Joey King,” Smith said. “Gator hunting is truly a team effort, and it takes everyone pulling together to be successful.”
“On the second night out, we pulled up to the monster gator known as Longhead,” King said. “I had located him back in 2016, and my dad hunted him one night in 2018. Well… we pulled up and saw him again, and the hunt was on.”
A dangerous sport
It took a few hours before they could get close enough to get a good cast on him. Regulations require gators to be hooked before they are dispatched, to make sure you don’t lose one and then harvest more than one gator. That entails hooking him and wearing him down and bringing him to the boat, just like a large catfish. It is sho-nuff dangerous.
“We stayed on Longhead from 11:30 to 4:45,” Smith said. “Each time we’d approach him, he would dive and stay under about 15 minutes. He played cat and mouse with us for a long time until we got close enough to make a good cast.”
As soon as the alligator was in position, Smith knifed it and then followed up with a quick .410 shot for good measure.
Smith had the gator processed by Red Antler Processing near Yazoo City and credited King, Parrett (the owner of Gatortaker) and Shane Smith of Red Antler. She has enjoyed some fine gator sausage since then.