13+ Gator From Chattahoochee River Above Eufaula
When Will Baker drew a Zone 1 tag for Georgia’s gator season, he had high hopes that he’d be able to harvest an above-average gator, but little did he know that a much larger train was coming down the tracks.
“I drew my first tag way back in 2014 and managed to harvest a nice, 9.5 DIY gator with the help of my old man, Ricky Warbington. That was an exciting hunt, but this time I was looking for something way bigger,”said Will.
Starting the Tuesday after opening day, Will spent four days hunting the section of the Chattahoochee River south of Columbus and north of Lake Eufaula. The hunt did not start out as planned, as two big gators managed to muscle their way free, one after an hour-and-a-half-long battle on the river.
“The very first gator we hooked up with was a giant. I can’t tell you exactly how big he was, but he was a big animal. We had him hooked up and fought him hard for over an hour and a half before he managed to pull off of the handline,” said Will.
The second gator that Will chose to target had been spotted a few times on the bank, but Will hadn’t been able to catch the large alligator in open water.
“I got the guys I was hunting with to drop me off, and I sat quietly on the bank knowing that sooner or later he would show up.”
When the gator appeared at roughly 20 yards a short while later, Will cast his treble hook past the animal, cranked the handle a few times and instantly hooked up.
“At that point the fight was on, the gator went crazy and flattened my hook. I was frustrated to say the least,” said Will.
Will knew that after the two failed encounters, he was going to need reinforcements to up his chance of success on the river.
“I reached out to Bryan with Killer Instinct Guide Service and told him what I was after. We lined up a trip for that Friday night. I was hopeful that with their help, we could get it done.”
Will and the team launched at 7 a.m., and by 7:15, they already had a big gator in their sights. After the gator had disappeared for 15 minutes, he suddenly resurfaced. Will and two other members of the team casted their hooks at the gator with no success. The river went quiet, and the waiting game continued.
“At 8:30, it was a repeat of a little while earlier. The big gator came up and we casted at him, but nobody hooked up,” said Will.
Finally, at 11:30 a.m., the gator surfaced again and this time the team of hunters managed to get two treble hooks in the giant dinosaur, and the battle was on.
“We had two lines in him, and we were finally able to get a handline in him. My long-time friend Kevin was videoing, and it was pure chaos. After 20 minutes or so, the gator came up close, and Kevin hurried and put the camera down and managed to harpoon the gator,” said Will.
The giant animal fought back hard, snapping the harpoon rod in an angry barrel roll. This caused both fishing lines to break, leaving only a handline between the giant animal and freedom.
“We fought him hard on the handline for the next 15 minutes, taking turns fighting the gator hard on the single line. We knew we had to win the fight quick, so we were really putting the pressure on him,” Will added.
The team managed to secure the gator with another harpoon, and when the gator’s tail came up, one of the guys grabbed the gators giant tail, bear hugging it in the boat.
“I hurried to the front of the boat and as soon as the gator appeared, I squeezed the trigger. There was no aim, it was just instinct. The shot was perfect, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” said Will.
When the crew got the gator back to land, it stretched the tape measurer to 13 feet, 1.5 inches and dragged the scales down to an enormous 750 pounds. The gator’s age is estimated to be roughly 75 to 80 years old.
“I can’t say thanks enough to my life-long buddy Kevin Houston and the guys at Killer Instinct. Bryan, the owner, Kelly and Rico are all top-notch hunters and great people. Next time I go after a big gator, there’s no way I will do it without calling them first,” said Will.
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