A group of Alabama hunters is celebrating the catch of a lifetime: A 15-foot-long alligator weighing more than 1,000 pounds.
Al.com reports the monster gator was pulled from the water in south Alabama early Saturday during the state's alligator hunting season.
Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries biologists were able to measure the gator at 15 feet, but weighing it posed a challenge.
The first attempt completely destroyed a winch assembly used to hoist most average gators. So they had to use a backhoe to lift the animal. It weighed in at 1,011.5 pounds.
The gator is the largest ever legally killed by an Alabama hunter. It was caught by Mandy and John Stokes, Kevin Jenkins and his children, 16-year-old Savannah and 14-year-old Parker.
After hooking the alligator, the hunters fought him for more that five hours, according to AL.com. At one point, they tried to shoot it, but they just made it mad:
Mandy Stokes uncased a 20-gauge shotgun, loaded it and pointed it at the sweet spot behind the eyes and at the base of the neck where she'd been told to aim by Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division instructors at a mandatory training class.
When she pulled the trigger, however, the gator's head was too far below the water's surface, rendering the shot's impact useless in its primary purpose of killing the animal.
It did elicit a quick response, however.
"All it did was make this gator mad," Mandy Stokes said. "Fear had taken hold at this point."
The massive creature still hip-tied to the aluminum boat's cleats surged forward with its massive tail and began towing the 17-foot boat and its five passengers across the stump-strewn creek at a startling speed.
Once on the verge of extinction, the American alligator has made a remarkable recovery. Due to strict conservation measures and extensive research, it is no longer endangered except in scattered areas of its range. However, the American alligator is listed as threatened on the U.S. Endangered Species List because it is very similar in appearance to the American crocodile, which is endangered, and hunters are likely to confuse the two species. Hunting is allowed in some states, but it is heavily controlled. The greatest threat is currently destruction of habitat; this includes water management systems and increased levels of mercury and dioxins in the water.
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