Mississippi’s brief public alligator season has only just begun, and hunters have already broken the state record twice in four days. On August 30, one day after the hunt opened, Robert Mahaffey of Brandon and two friends caught a massive 756-pound, 13-foot and 1.75-inch gator in the Mississippi River. Officials from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (DWFP) confirmed it as a new state record, but it did not last long at the top. On September 2, three friends from Starkville harvested a 792-pound reptile that was 13 feet and 5 inches long. The new record goes to permit holder Brian Montgomery and his two companions, Scott Berry and Jesse Phillips. Berry, a veteran alligator hunter who has pursued alligators in Mississippi for years, was present at both record harvests.
Despite breaking the state record twice, Berry said he was searching for an even larger animal.
“When we saw this one, we knew it was a big one, but we knew it wasn’t the big one that we were looking for, but we knew this one couldn’t be passed up,” the hunter told WAPT regarding his most recent harvest, which was also in the Mississippi River.
Wildlife officials said they would not be surprised if the record is broken again before the private water season ends on September 22 (the public season ends at noon on September 8). This is the second year that hunters have been allowed to harvest alligators statewide, and the season seems to be more popular than ever before. The DWFP recieved 7,400 applications for permits from interested hunters, although only 920 permits were issued.
“I think a lot of that can be thanked to cable television and various shows that are out there have become very popular,” DWFP alligator program coordinator Ricky Flynt told WLBT. “You know, back in the late 70s and 80s, it was Jaws and sharks. Sharks were the craze. I guess nowadays it seems like alligators are the craze.”
It is yet to be seen how this year’s harvest will compare to 2013’s, which saw hunters bagging 779 alligators total across public and private waterways.
Images courtesy Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks