The Magnolia State’s record books took a beating last week with two groups of hunters laying claim to two different behemoth alligators both weighing more than 700 pounds. On Sunday those record-sized reptiles were yet again eclipsed by an even bigger 741-pound beast out of the Mississippi River. According to The Clarion-Ledger, the new record was harvested by Dalco Turner, who was accompanied by John Ratcliff, Jennifer Ratcliff, and Jimmy Greer. The hunting trip, which took place near Port Gibson, was originally meant to be a celebration hunt for John Ratcliff and his bride-to-be Elizabeth Greer. Greer was forced to cancel on the trip and Ratcliff instead took his future father-in-law for a gator chase.
“It was around midnight when we initially saw this one,” said Turner. “We passed it by the first time. We really didn’t think he was big enough to go after.”
As luck would have it, the team eventually turned back due to the number of boats crowding the area. The gator they passed by on their first sweep was still there and the hunters scrutinized it more closely this time. Realizing just how large the animal was, Turner’s team hastily hooked the gator.
“He broke three lines, and I had the only hook that stayed in him the whole time,” said Turner.
It ended up dragging them deeper into the river, viciously biting at the boat whenever it had the chance. Eventually the hunters were able to bring the animal alongside the vessel and kill it. As with the two other record gator catches in recent weeks, the hunters then ran into a problem getting the behemoth ashore.
“We couldn’t even pull him onto the bank,” said Turner. “We tried to pull him with the boat, we tried everything.”
The hunters called in additional hands but it still took another 30 minutes to get the reptile loaded. Ricky Flint, an Alligator Program coordinator with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, certified the catch as the new state record. Alligator season has been a busy time for Flint, who also certified the two record catches last week. The alligator measured in at 13 feet and seven inches long.