When a Mississippi alligator hunter set out on the opening day of the season on Friday he had no idea he would meet up with the largest alligator ever officially recorded in the state.
He also didn’t know it would take him and three other men in his party seven hours to land him.
“We got on the water right at dark,” said Donald Woods of Oxford. “We were seeing a lot of alligators.
“It was a calm night. We saw a lot of 8-footers, 10-footers, but that’s not what we were after.”
Woods, the tag-holder, was hunting on the Yazoo River with Joey Clark of Jackson, Will Thomas of Madison and Tanner White of Flora. He said they’ve harvested plenty of big alligators in the past, so they weren’t going to settle for something smaller the first night.
“We’ve been hunting these things a long time,” Woods said. “We’ve killed a lot of 12-footers.”
However, it wasn’t long before they saw one that caught their attention.
“We knew he was wide,” Woods said. “His back was humongous. It was like we were following a jon boat.”
At 9 p.m. Woods got a hook on the alligator and the next seven hours resulted in broken lines, broken tackle and a broken state record.
Once on land, they measured the alligator and it was in the 14-foot range. When officially measured by Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Alligator Program coordinator Andrew Arnett, the alligator came in at 14 feet, 3 inches and weighed 802.5 pounds. It bested the previous record set in 2017 of 14 feet, 3/4 inches.
So, what does Woods plan to do after catching an alligator like that?
“We’re done with chasing big ones this year,” Woods said. “I might even call it a career after that, honestly.”
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