Alligators heavier than 700 pounds sound straight out of a nightmare for most, but they became record-breaking reality for hunters in Mississippi over the weekend. Two groups of hunters smashed the record for largest gator in the state, not once but twice during opening weekend of alligator season.
Beth Trammell of Madison, and her team of five broke the previous record of 697.5 pounds early Saturday morning by reeling in a 723.5 pound mammoth. "When we first saw him," she recalls, "I yelled 'oh my gosh we caught the Loch Ness Monster!'" It took five hours and the help of two additional hunters, but eventually they hoisted the animal into their boat. "It was totally unbelievable," Trammell remembers.
Her record, however, was defeated two hours later by Dustin Bockman, another amateur who managed to wrangle in a 727-pound male, his very first catch. He and two partners struggled with the record-breaker for over four hours in the early morning before pulling him to a sandbar to wait for help. "My goal was to get a 10-footer," he explained. "I couldn't believe it when it was that big."
These massive creatures come as no surprise to Ricky Flint, Mississippi Alligator Program coordinator. This is the first year there has been a state-wide alligator season, opening up massive new hunting territory to those picked via lottery. "We expect the records to get broken and these will be broken, as well. Maybe before the end of this season," he said.
For this challenge, Bockman is ready. "If someone beats my record, I'll go out and try to top it." While regulations will force him to wait until next season to reel in anything that large, he remains optimistic. "There's always a bigger one out there." Until then, both Trammell and Bockman will mount their harvests to remember their struggles. Trammell is planning a party next weekend to enjoy the meat with friends.