Husband And Wife Finally Seal Deal With Seminole 12-Foot Gator
By Jeana Quirk
I patiently waited seven years to draw a gator tag in Georgia. After a year-long debate on which zone to apply for, we decided to proceed with Zone 2 (Lake Seminole). We currently live in Harris County on Lake Harding (Zone 1), which is where “Big Al,” a 12-6 gator, was taken by my husband Cody and his brother Charles during the 2021 season. Knowing that there were no other gators equivalent in size on our lake, we ventured south.
The gator hunting started Sunday of opening weekend for us, which slowly turned into a week-long grind of hunting through 110-plus heat advisories. We initially hooked into this gator mid week and lost him due to him running under an old cypress downfall and thick matted hydrilla. It was a gut-wrenching feeling knowing we just lost a 12-foot gator with the legal methods of catching them in Georgia being as challenging as they are.
We returned the week of Sept. 10-17 to try our luck again on finding a gator suitable to our standards. We were hopeful that he was still around, but with the amount of pressure and presence of other hunters, it is never a guarantee. After arriving Sunday evening, we made a quick run of the river to only come across smaller gators. We hopped on the boat first thing Monday and ran to check an area where we had previously hooked and lost a similar-size gator to come up short-handed.
We decided to run back toward the house we were renting late morning to regroup and grab lunch. Rounding the final turn, we looked ahead and there he was hanging off the end of a point where he had been known to hang out looking for a local dog by the name of Flint. Flint is a pit bull/bulldog mix that has had several encounters with this gator trying to get him while hanging on his owner’s dock.
After pursuing him for a few hours, we were successful in getting a hook in him, only to loose him shortly after due to the line cutting on the bottom of the boat. My heart dropped as tears began to fill my eyes. This was the exact same thing that happened opening week.
After a long week of trying to find the gator again, we finally got back on him Saturday morning. We ended up playing a nine-hour, cat-and-mouse game of him popping up and down in and out of the hydrilla. After numerous hooks getting caught in the grass, we finally got a handline in him to seal the deal. Once I dispatched the gator, my emotions ran wild. I was hysterical and could barely talk because I was overwhelmed with happiness and relief at the same time. I was in shock that Cody and I just caught and harvested a 12-foot gator with the challenges of only having two people.
It goes to show you that persistence pays off and not to settle for less than what you strive for. The experience alone will be unforgettable, and the benefit of the harvest making it safer for the local residents’ pets makes it even more special.
The alligator meat will be shared with family and friends, and I plan to get a standing full body mount of the gator. I’m the owner of a scent-control-product company called Dirty Outdoors, and I’m going to take the mount to shows so people can take pictures with him.
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