PENSACOLA, Fla. (WALA) - In his four years hunting alligators here on the Gulf Coast, Travis Gill, 22, has encountered a few large enough to intimidate even the most seasoned hunter. They've ranged from 9 to 11 feet in length.
When he caught a monster 13-foot, six inch, 645 pound alligator late Sunday night in Escambia County rivers, he couldn’t believe his eyes.
“When I first saw it, I thought it was a 10-foot long alligator. That's usually what we're aiming for because anything over 10 feet is great," said Gill. "When we got his tail up, we said this is huge. When his head came up and began thrashing about, we knew it was much bigger than any of us expected."
Gill and two friends were boating through the waters when he says two eyes caught the beam of their flashlights.
He said they cut off their engine and trolled over to where the gator was. He said that’s when they hooked him with a line and rope.
“Then we were able to harpoon him. It was almost a three hour battle to hit him with a bang stick. You can’t use guns in Florida. It was another hour before we could even get him in the boat. We realized it is the biggest one we’ve ever seen," Gill said.
Gill said he and his friends tried to pull the gator onto the boat, but it nearly sank. They had to go several more miles before they could get the animal onto dry land.
“We pulled the boat as far onto land as we could so that it didn’t rock. Then we just went piece by piece rolling him into the boat. When his tail flopped in it was all over,” said Gill.
Local taxidermist Chad Cooper, who has worked with big game hunters all over the world, tells FOX10 this is the largest alligator he’s ever worked on.
Gill said he’s still trying to figure out what he’ll do with the animal once Cooper’s finished, but he said he's considered mounting it in his house.
“The problem is if I have the whole thing mounted, I don’t have a house big enough for him. It’s like parking a truck in your living room," Gill said. "You always try to catch one bigger than your last one but this one will be hard to top."
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the largest alligator ever caught in Florida was 14 feet, 3 and a half inches long.
The State of Florida gives out 6,363 permits for gator hunting per year. Each permit allows two alligators to be killed.
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