13-3 Lake Seminole Alligator

Reader Contributed | July 6, 2021

By Mike Harp

Just wanted to sit down and tell my story of the last four years of gator hunting leading up to my 2020 13-3 beast. It all started with my first tag in 2013. I thought it was going to be easy to just go out and get one. Well one weekend later, on the Altamaha River and after some gator sightings, it was proven to me to be challenging.

Actually, it turned into a really good catfish trip, though! We came home with a 45-lb. flathead. So, after a disappointing first gator season for me, I decided that next time was going to be different. I was on a mission to get a gator some day.

I started putting in the whole family for gator points so we could have more trips out. In 2017, my son Zack drew a tag, and we decided to go to Lake Seminole this time to increase our chances. This time I had bought a 16-foot Tracker boat and all kinds of gator-getting stuff. So, Zack, my daughter Haley and myself set out on our mission.

After three trips out that year, we realized pretty quick that we didn’t have a clue how to gator hunt. We actually hooked a couple of 4- or 5-footers that got off at the boat and hooked into a couple of 8- or 9-footers that broke our line and our pole. A word of advice: you can’t fight a gator like a bass.

After coming up empty once again, I decided to try and find a guide for the next year to show us how it was done. Little did I know that would turn out to be a great idea.

The next year was 2018, and I had already set up a hunt with Chris Blackmon, and it was Haley who drew the tag. We went up the Chattahoochee River that evening and came back with a 10-3 gator! We thought that was the greatest thing ever. Up to that point my wife Becky had not been and was not too sure about it. Well she had no choice because in 2019 she drew the tag.

So, we booked another hunt with Chris, and it was on again. We hooked into an 11-3 gator that we fought for 2 1/2 hours, and we thought there was no way we’d ever outdo that trip.

Let’s fast forward to 2020, and I drew a tag for Lake Seminole. Chris got a call again and was happy to oblige. This had become a family tradition, and there was no way Becky was going to be left out since she was hooked! One little problem was that Haley was in nursing school, and the only day she could get off was on a Friday.

So, I got with Chris and set it up for Sept. 4. Little did I realize that it was on Labor Day weekend. The whole three weeks leading up to the hunt I didn’t get much sleep. I was really nervous about going on a Friday. I was thinking there would be a lot more boat traffic and more people out hunting.

Sept. 4 finally came, and we were on our way. We got there and my wife cooked us a nice spaghetti dinner, and we were off to hunt at about 7 p.m.

We had been up the river the last two years, but since it was a clear, calm night, Chris wanted to go to the main lake and try to catch one crossing out in the open water. So, we settled in and spotted one right before dark, but Chris said it was about a 9-footer, and he asked me what I was wanting, and I told him that I was really looking for something at least 10 foot, so we let that one pass and kept looking.

We spotted a pretty good one up the lake and moved on it, but it went down quick. By that time, it was getting dark, but the moon was bright, and it was a perfect night. We spotted several gators and moved toward them, but they were being very skittish, and by the time Chris could throw at them, they were going back under.

It was getting around 10 o’clock, and we had probably tried to snag about five or so gators with no luck, and I was thinking that luck just wasn’t on my side.

Shortly after that, a boat started coming toward us, and it was the game wardens. That happened to be the highlight of the trip for Becky as she watches all those TV shows about game wardens. She thought that was the coolest thing ever. I actually thought she was going to get a picture with one of them.

I think that turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because after they left, it’s like the gators thought the coast was clear and one popped up not too far out and Chris hooked him. Timing was not that great as I was “busy” at the back of the boat and could not get to the rod, (unbelievable right)! Haley had to get the rod in my place, and the by the time I got to her, the gator had gotten off. Well everybody was kind of bummed, but what happened next was right out of Swamp People.

We looked down and noticed bubbles coming up right beside the boat. The gator making those bubbles was only in about 12 feet of water, so we started following the bubble trail, and when he came up, Chris was ready. He was only about 15 to 20 yards out, and Chris snagged him and handed me the rod. Wow, I have never felt anything that heavy. He ran us in circles for a while. After about 30 minutes, you could tell he was getting tired. Chris kept saying, “That’s a big gator.”

After we got him beside the boat, we got two more hooks in him and started to pull him up. Chris, Zack and I were on the rods, and Haley was on the crossbow, while Becky was videoing at the time. We finally got him up, and Haley shot him in the tail so we could have a float on him, and he went ballistic! He took off pulling drag on three rods.

Once he settled down again, we all got on the rods and Chris hooked him with a large hook and some mule tape and we eased him up for a shot. When he came up this time, we all got a good look at him and said “Holy Cow” or something like that. I think my words were, “We’re going to need a bigger boat!”

Chris shot him with his .454 revolver, and we thought that was it. Well, what happened next proved to be pretty hairy. Chris put the gaff under his jaw to pull him up and get a look at his eyes to see if he was dead. To say he wasn’t would be an understatement. The gator lunged at Chris with his head over the front of the boat, and I thought we were fixing to be without a guide. He even bit the front of the boat and knocked out a tooth. A couple more attempts and four more bullets, and we thought he was done.

Next came the issue of how to get him in the boat. We were trying to tie him to the side of the boat to drag him in when another guide who had heard all of the commotion came to help. When he pulled up, he looked at the gator and said, “That gator just blinked.” This was after I had already had my hands on him taping his mouth shut. So, three more shots to the head for good measure, and they helped us get him in the boat: four grown men, two women and eight shots later — WOW!

We’ll have to wait a couple of years to go back and hopefully get Zack one. This one will definitely be hard to beat. I can’t thank Chris Blackmon enough for everything. He is a super guy and a great guide. I’m just going to have to get a second job to pay my taxidermy bill now!

Submit Your Hunt Story To Hunter’s Journal
• Hunt stories should be close to 1,200 words and contain at least one photo at least 2 MB in size.
|• To submit Hunter’s Journal stories and photos, email to
[email protected] or mail to: GON Hunter’s Journal, 4331 Seven Islands Road, Madison, GA 30650.

Become a GON subscriber and enjoy full access to ALL of our content.

New monthly payment option available!


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.