Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Huge alligator killed in west-central Alabama: 14 feet, 2 inches, 838 pounds!
Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries biologist Chris Cook said Fancher captured and killed the record gator on the Alabama River near Portland Landing in Dallas County. The kill came during the opening night of the second split of the season in the new west-central hunt zone.
Cook, who witnessed the weigh-in, said the alligator was so big it stretched a backing cable on the scales. The cable had to be replaced.
Cook said Fancher's gator had a 65-inch girth around the stomach and measured 44 inches around the base of the tail.
Efforts to reach Fancher Saturday were unsuccessful.
His gator was one of only seven checked in Friday night into Saturday morning, Cook said.
Previously, the largest alligator checked in anywhere in the state was the 13-foot, 4-inch, 734-pounder tagged by John Fulton of Bessemer last year on the Tensaw River just above Cliff's Landing.
Matt Thornton of Mobile is the only other hunter to check in a 13-footer on the Delta, accomplishing the feat in 2009 with a 13-foot, 5-inch behemoth that tipped the scales at 701 pounds.
For comparison's sake, Josh Ishee checked in an impressive 12-foot, 7-inch, 469-pound male alligator Friday night. Ishee's animal was the largest of 17 brought to the Causeway scales.
Delta hunters had filled 55 of 125 available tags heading into Saturday night's hunt.
During a night this reporter spent on the Delta with tag-holder Lynn Pridgen and his crew, it became obvious that four nights of hunting combined with untold encounters with hunters using spotlights during preseason scouting had caused alligators to become skittish on the Tensaw River.
Pridgen also said there appears to be fewer of the larger animals that hunters have chosen to go after since the Delta hunts began.
"I do think there's less big ones. I don't know the perspective of the biologists exactly, but I know part of it is to control the population and you do that by taking out the females," he said. "On the Delta, it's become more like a trophy hunt."
Pridgen pointed to a group of successful hunters his crew came upon on the Tensaw River. They had killed a fine alligator that was probably 10 feet long.
"Take those boys we saw Saturday morning," he said. "It was the guy's first gator and they were excited they had killed a nice one. Then they go to the scales and maybe see a 600-pounder hanging there, and they're like, 'Hey, next time we're going to get one like that.'"
For Pridgen, who tagged a 12-foot, 400-pound-plus male last year, the hunt is more about the experience.
"I really don't care to kill another one," he said. "I like looking at them, touching them. It's something not a lot of people get into. If I knew then the hassle it was going to be, I never would have killed that big one last year.
"Just getting it into the boat was really hard. Then lugging it to the check station, and dealing with it once I got it home. Anyone can go out with their family and kill a little gator and have no trouble handling it, skinning out and keeping the meat if they want to.
"I just don't see many of those big alligators actually getting skinned out."
He added that the elements of the hunt -- stalking close, throwing over an alligator, hooking up, the fight, then getting eye-to-eye with the animal -- are what appeal to him.
"It would probably be better to concentrate on taking the smaller females, but, you know, in the heat of the moment, I can't tell you absolutely we'd turn a really big gator loose," he said. "The thing is, just like with fishing, I get excited finding them, hooking up and fighting them to the boat. I get excited about every one of them.
"I guess if I stop getting excited, I might as well quit."
Delta and west-central zone seasons wrap up for the year when hunting hours start tonight at 8 and end at 6 a.m. Monday. Check stations at both locations close at 7 a.m.
Posted by OL'MAN Outdoors at 4:51 AM