State Record Gator Boated On Blackshear
First-time hunter harpoons 13-foot, 7-inch monster.
Shane Wilson of Cataula had never been drawn for a gator tag before. Neither had two of the other three hunters who launched two boats from the Camper’s Haven boat ramp on Lake Blackshear Sept. 12. It’s a good thing at least one of the four, Randy Pounds of Butler, had some experience gator hunting, because the 13-foot, 7-inch, 685-lb. monster Shane sank a harpoon into gave them all they could handle. The gator should be the state’s largest taken by hunters once the kill is officially verified.
With Shane and Randy in one boat and Robby Watson of Bonaire and Greg Foster of Columbus serving as a support team in a second boat, the crew put in at about 9 p.m. to cruise the cypress trails of Blackshear spotlighting for gators.
“We weren’t seeing that many gators, and we were baffled. We saw a couple of nice ones, but they sunk,” Shane said. “The gators were really shy. We thought somebody must be hunting the snot out of these things. We were close to thinking maybe we’d just have to try again later.”
After 2 a.m., the hunters had worked their way back near the boat ramp in preparation to hang it up for the night. They had gone from using the 25 hp motor and a spotlight to a trolling motor and a hand-held flashlight, attempting to keep the gators from spooking. Randy steered the boat to within 6 feet of a pair of red eyes illuminated by the flashlight.
“I saw him and said, ‘Lord have mercy,’” Shane said. “Right up until I threw the harpoon, Randy was like ‘you sure that isn’t a log?’
“I hit him with that harpoon, and all heck broke loose. When he took off, he literally shifted the boat with all the wake he kicked up. I was like, ‘Dude! I’ve stuck a dinosaur!’”
After more than an hour of battling the gator, which was content to sit on the bottom, they managed to get it up to the boat, and Shane popped it in the head three times with a .40-caliber pistol. The leviathan went limp.
“We brought him up to the edge of the boat, and we grabbed his feet because we couldn’t get his head,” Shane said. “That’s when he decided he didn’t want to be dead any more. He slashed around at Randy.”
The gator ran, and the two men were just glad they hadn’t tied him to the boat. The beast would have easily capsized their small craft. An hour later, after pulling the gator up again and pumping two more rounds into its head, it floated belly up. The men began spooling up their lines in buckets in the back of the boat.
“We started gathering up the gear, looked around and he wasn’t there anymore,” said Shane. “He had buried himself up under the weeds, and we could hear him under there growling.”
Once again, it was a good thing they hadn’t tied the gator off. It had rocketed under a grass mat and was looking at them through the weeds.
“He opened his mouth up and started snapping and growling,” Shane said. “I shot him three more times, then we pulled him up by the harpoon and gaffed him.”
With all four men pitching in, they finally got the gator loaded in the boat and limped back to the ramp.
“Don’t think it didn’t cross our minds all the way back… ‘When’s he going to decide to wake up?’” Shane chuckled. “It was probably the most adrenaline-pumped four hours of my life. The strength I felt when I grabbed a hold of that buoy the first time was like trying to hold onto a pickup truck.”
Ranger Josh Swain helped get certified weight and measurements of the gator, and it should be the new largest hunter-taken gator on record. The previous record, killed in 2005 on Lake Seminole, measured 13-feet, 6-inches.
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