When Barry Sanders, 57, went to Georgia to hunt alligators this past weekend, he never expected to find one 13 feet long.
“It was unbelievable how big it was,” he said.
Initially, his friend Keith Herbert caught an 8-foot alligator Saturday afternoon around 3:30 p.m., so they kept hunting on their small 18-foot boat.
Then they saw a much bigger gator. When it poked its head above water they used a snag hook to grab it and spent the next two hours wrestling the large reptile, estimated to weigh about 800 pounds.
“It took three of us to get him in the boat,” Sanders said. “He was a horse.”
Sanders’ guide on the hunting trip, local legend and alligator trapper Jack Douglas, 65, helped pull the gator in.
“I’ve caught a good number of 12-foot gators … but this gator just dwarfed them out so bad,” he said. “I’ve been a trapper since ’89 and have probably handled 6,000 gators, and this was my biggest ever.”
The pictures, Sanders said, don’t do the gator justice.
“I’m 6′ 2″, and his legs were just as big as my legs,” he said.
They brought the gator back to Douglas’ home where his wife Amy, who also has a gator hunting tag, took pictures.
“This one was beyond anything any of us had seen before,” she said.
Her daughter Amanda, now 31, was the first woman to draw a gator hunting tag in the yearly Georgia lottery several years ago. She eventually caught a gator that was 12 feet long and about 600 pounds.
“As they get longer the girth is so much bigger,” she said.
Sanders, who first hunted gators in 2006, said this gator was probably at least 50 years old.
“Older than me maybe,” he said.
After skinning and harvesting the alligator, Sanders, who had traveled to Georgia from Warsaw, Va., brought nearly all of the meat back home.
“It makes a great jambalaya,” he said.