Four alligator hunters caught Mississippi’s largest alligator on record after a brutal battle that trashed all their gear and took an entire night.
Oxford, Mississippi, native Donald Woods and his three buddies Joey Clark, Will Thomas, and Tanner White have been hunting alligators on the Yazoo River for years, but never imagined that they would face off with such a fierce beast.
The foursome were set on catching a huge gator on the first night of their trip, and refused to settle for any of the 8- to 10-footers, because that’s not what they were after.
At 9 p.m. that night, the hunters found an alligator that was so “humongous” it resembled the size of an aluminum fishing boat.
Woods managed to hook the giant alligator with his fishing line, but the battle to reel in the monster would take another seven hours.
He was able to keep the gator on the line for an hour before it broke his rod. What ensued was an exhausting pursuit that ate through all of their equipment.
“We hooked him eight or nine times and he kept breaking off. He would go down, sit and then take off. He kept going under logs. He knew what he was doing,” Woods explained.
Though the alligator stayed in the same spot for the whole night, it was clearly in charge, as the hunters were unable to move him.
“He dictated everything we did,” Woods detailed. “It was exhausting, but you’re adrenaline is going so you don’t notice it. It was more mentally exhausting than anything because he kept getting off.”
The alligator finally fatigued after a seven hour fight that left the hunters with only two rods and reels left.
They were able to pull the alligator into their boat at 4 a.m. and were astonished by its size. “We were just amazed at how wide his back was and how big the head was,” Woods said.
Their catch was measured by an official from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Alligator Program, who found that the alligator they reeled in broke the state record.
The 2017 record holding catch came in at 14 feet, 3/4 inches, while the gator pulled by Woods and company was 2.5 inches longer at 4 feet, 3 inches and 802.5 pounds.
After breaking the state record, Woods and his friends are done going after big boys this season, and may even be done with the sport. “I might even call it a career after that, honestly,” he commented.
Astonishingly, the alligator they caught isn’t the largest one on record, that title belongs to a 19 foot and two inch behemoth that was captured near Gainesville, Florida, that weighed in at 1,043 pounds.