Massive ‘Once-in-a-Lifetime’ 14-Foot Alligator Caught by Texas Gator Hunters

by Alex Falls

Florida hunters bagged a once-in-a-lifetime kill when they successfully hunted a massive alligator in the James E. Daughtrey Wildlife Management Area in Calliham, Texas.

The two hunters were visiting the park as part of a four-day hunting event between September 12 and 16. The wildlife park posted photos of the massive kill.

In the first post, the massive gator can be seen with a stick propping open its huge mandible and the hunters look thrilled with their trophy. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department detailed the alligator as a male weighing 781 pounds, with a total length of 14 feet, 2.5 inches.

They also posted a follow-up picture of the alligator being hoisted up on a forklift. Both hunters stand on either side of the dinosaur-like reptile to provide perspective on just how big the alligator is.

According to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, male alligators tend to be around 11.2 feet long on average. This Texas gator is clearly an above-average specimen.

The largest alligator ever caught was hunted by an Alabama woman in 2014. That massive capture came in at 15 feet and 9 inches. Large gators can often weigh in excess of 1,000 pounds. Gator hunting can be extremely dangerous.

A History of Alligator Hunting

Alligators have occupied the earth longer than even humans. They can be found the world over in swamps, marshes, rivers, and lakes. In America, they’re mostly found along the Gulf Coast and the Southeastern United States. According to the Defenders of Wildlife organization, the worldwide population of alligators stands at around 5 million.

In the past, gator numbers dwindled due to excessive hunting and habitat loss. In 1967, reptiles were added to the endangered species list. But populations eventually began to recover. Starting in 1984, Texas began hunting wild alligators as part of monitored programs.

Within these programs, alligators may be hunted for a variety of reasons. Hunting is permitted for commercial markets involved in the selling of meat or skins. Hunting may also be used as a means of population control.

There are several critics who argue hunting alligators is cruel. Groups like the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida argue alligator hunting causes undeniable suffering to the gators captured and killed.

Alligator populations are estimated through aerial surveys and physical observations. Three-year averages are used to determine population levels suitable for each hunting season. Core alligator hunting season generally occurs in September. However, exceptions do exist in certain counties where overpopulation might be more severe.

The Daughtrey Wildlife Management Area has more than 31,000 acres of mostly flat terrain that consists of many open lakes ideal for people interested in hunting gators. But hunters are required to possess a valid hunting license to hunt in the area. Furthermore, restrictions state gators can be caught only with a hook and line. Finally, handguns and rifles are prohibited, but shotguns are permitted to kill secured alligators.