Alligator Hunters Bag Giant Mississippi State Record Gator

by Lauren Boisvert

Two fishermen from Madison, Mississippi were able to haul in an alligator that’s considered a “local legend” on August 28, when they were fishing north of Ross Barnett Reservoir on the Pearl River, according to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP).

Brothers Jim and Richie Denson not only hauled in a legend, but they also broke the state record for the longest female alligator caught in Mississippi: their gator measured in at 10 feet 2 inches. Additionally, the Denson’s gator also ties the 1984 world record for the longest female free-roaming wild alligator, which was measured in Florida. The record was broken in 2021 with a Florida gator that measured 10 feet 6.75 inches.

Jim Denson posted the catch on Facebook. “My brother Richie and I were able to put a local legend in the boat,” he wrote. “She broke a heavy fishing rod and the snare pole, but we finally got her in the boat.”

The MDWFP was already aware of this gator’s existence, calling her “Yellow 410.” In June 2009, the department captured, tagged, and released her. At that time, the alligator also measured exactly 10 feet 2 inches and was captured within 100 yards of where the Densons killed [it],” said MDWFP Alligator Program Coordinator Ricky Flynt in a statement.

The purpose of tagging and measuring the gators in the area is so the MDWFP can monitor alligator growth rates and movements and learn more about the subjects when they are killed or captured by hunters and fishermen. Flynt expressed that this catch is “definitely a world-class alligator specimen.” By the department’s calculations, she could have been 75 to 100 years old.

Mississippi Brothers Catch Record-Breaking Alligator Previously Tagged and Studied

According to the MDWFP, the department has tagged over 800 alligators since 2007 in Mississippi alone. The state is gathering data from hunter recaptures the likes of which no other state is gathering. “Each recapture provides us with interesting data that no other states are obtaining,” said Flynt. “I am very proud of what we are learning. This is just another example of the value of hunters and hunting to wildlife biologists and wildlife conservation.”

Alligators typically live long lives, but there’s no surefire way to tell how old a gator is exactly. At least, not while they’re alive. As for Yellow 410, Flynt mentioned that since 2009, she didn’t increase even one inch in size. Typically, female alligators grow up to 8 feet in length, while male gators can get to 11 feet, sometimes larger. Yellow 410 seemed to be an interesting case. She fell somewhere in the middle of overly large for a female but not as large as a male.

“We have learned that females typically have much slower growth rates (less than two inches per year) while males typically grow faster and can grow as much as 8-12 inches in one year,” Flynt explained. “We also know growth of individuals can vary greatly from one year to the next.”