13-foot, 4-inch Seminole Gator Kicks Off 2006 Gator Season
At 12:55 a.m. on opening morning, Peter Martin harpooned this Seminole GIANT, one of the biggest in Georgia's gator history.
Fifty-five minutes after the 2006 alligator season began, Peter Martin of Decatur harpooned one of the largest gators the state has heard about since the state opened a gator season in 2003.
At 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, September 9, 2006, Peter pushed off the bank of Lake Seminole. Hunting with Peter were Kevin Winchester, who owned and ran the airboat for the hunt, and Stuart Geriner, another permit holder, who resides in Albany.
After spotting mostly three- to five-foot gators, the group came across what appeared to be a large gator in only two or three feet of water. As the gator hunters approached, the big reptile did not submerge; instead it simply opened its mouth, took a defensive position and revealed a rather large set of teeth.
Peter quickly harpooned the gator and brought it to the airboat, and a .44-caliber bangstick quickly came into action striking the bull gator’s head twice. With a giant dead gator on their hands, all three realized it was too heavy to lift and put into the 15-foot-long airboat. They secured the gator to the side of the boat and slowly headed back to the ramp.
Once the gator was on land, they used tow straps, a large tree limb and a truck to lift the gator into the air and then lower it into another truck’s bed. After icing the tail down and getting a couple of hours of sleep, the hunters took the gator to Glass Enterprises, Inc. in Camilla for processing. It was there that they measured the gator at 13-feet, 4-inches long and guessed the approximate weight to be in the neighborhood of 700-plus pounds.
This was Peter’s first gator hunt. He was selected to hunt Zone 2, which includes Lake Seminole, after three years of submitting for the quota hunt.
“The entire experience was a bit surreal,” said Peter. “While Kevin, Stuart and I knew it was a large gator, we truly didn’t know just how large he was until we were able to get him back to the ramp. I just wish that Stuart, being the other permit holder, had had a chance that morning to go back out to fulfill his tag. It’s just that it took about three hours to tow the gator back to land, move him from the water to the grassy bank, lift him up into the air, and then lower him down into the truck. The whole process was a bit humbling. The good news is that we have an idea as to where another “good one” is, and Stuart gets to go back for his shot at another monster gator before the 2006 season ends!”
Although Peter’s giant gator is near the top for record gators since Georgia began its season in 2003, the longest gator taken by a hunter that the Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) has on record is a monster that measured 13-feet, 6-inches long. Gary Lawrence killed the record gator in 2005 on Lake Seminole.
Gary was back on Seminole this year trying to get his wife, Julie, a gator — and he did. On the same evening that Peter was trying to hoist his 13-foot, 4-inch gator into a pickup truck, Julie was tangling with a 12-foot, 2-inch monster (see inset on page 105).
“There’s been a couple of 13-4s taken (since Georgia started its season in 2003),” said Greg Waters with WRD. “I’ve only got reports from a couple of places (this season), and none of them were huge.”
For the 2005 gator season, hunters reportedly killed 154 gators, followed by 2004 when they took 101 gators. In 2003, Georgians killed 73 gators.
The 2006 gator season ends October 1. If you kill a gator, GON would like to have a picture of it for possible publication in future issues. You can email photos to [email protected].
Seminole Gator “Second Only To Giving Birth”
By Julie Lawrence
My alligator hunt will be one of the most memorable experience of my life. It’s second only to giving birth to our 7-year-old twins.
After receiving my permit I became a little apprehensive. It didn’t help my nerves when my husband’s mounted alligator head entered our home, not to mention the passing of Steve Irwin. When the day of the hunt arrived, I began questioning my judgement; however, I felt at home on Lake Seminole. My husband and I have been airboating and duck hunting there for years. I was also comforted by the fact that a guide, who knew what he was doing, was going with us.
My hunt began at 12:30 a.m., after entering a boat with Benny West and my husband, Gary. There was a very spooky full moon out and several marble eyes staring back at me. Benny spotted the first gator, but he sunk beneath the water when we approached him, and I was secretly glad thinking this was all happening too fast. The next alligator, I was soon to learn, would be mine.
We approached him the same as the last, but he kept swimming up river, oblivious it seemed to us. I will always remember what he looked like swimming in the water. The moon was out, and the water was so clear.
My first attempt at harpooning him was a failure. I kind of flung the harpoon at him instead of hitting him hard. My knees were knocking and the adrenaline was flowing. I felt like I had failed everyone in the boat. After receiving more instruction from Benny and my husband, I finally stuck the same alligator in the leg. This led to a ride up and down the river for about 45 minutes. We got some more leaders in him to assure he wouldn’t break away. Benny and Gary were excited and couldn’t wait for him to come up. I began looking for an escape. Maybe I have seen too many horror movies, but I had a vivid view of what he was going to do when he came up. I wasn’t disappointed. Somehow I managed to stay calm and help bring him in the boat. I finally found myself on top of the biggest alligator I have ever seen. He measured 12-feet, 2-inches long and weighed 543 pounds.
I think Benny and Gary had a good laugh at how the boat was still shaking because of me. Benny West you are a wild and crazy gator man. I really enjoyed hanging out and laughing with you and Gary. Thanks to you both — I had the time of my life.
First Gator Hunt Ends with St. Mary’s 11-footer
By Capt. Bert Deener
After applying since the inception of alligator hunting in Georgia, I was finally drawn for this year’s hunt. Don Harrison of Waycross and Larry Carter of Folkston loaded into my 14-foot jonboat, and we headed up the St. Marys River. We had not done any scouting, but we knew the river, just as all the other south Georgia rivers, supported a healthy gator population. We scanned the bank with our spotlights.
Frog…frog…cat…leaf…frog, but no tell-tale coals on the water, the description Larry used to describe the reddish reflection of gator eyes when spotlighted. After checking two backwaters to no avail, we headed into a long, skinny backwater. After several bends, Don saw a pair of gator eyes. We headed straight for the monster with Don poised on the front deck, harpoon ready. With the gator only feet away, Don drove the harpoon into the gator’s back. After a huge boil, we chased the float attached to the end of the harpoon line.
Larry, the experienced gator-wrestler, assumed the front deck. As soon as he grabbed the float, the gator dragged our boat to a deep hole about 50 feet away. We did not realize how deep the hole was until the gator powered the rope from Larry’s hands and sounded, pulling all 15 feet of rope and the float under. Don and I just stared at the water in disbelief. Two tug-of-war battles later and the huge gator was boatside where Don was able to dispatch it with a 9mm handgun.
The behemoth measured 11-feet., 3-inches long.
It’ll be very hard for Don and I to top our first hunt, however, I can guarantee you two names that will be in the alligator quota hunt drawing next year.
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