‘At one point he came out of the water like a whale. He came out of the water down to his back feet. It was really impressive. We knew he was really big at that point.’
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What started out as a night of catching and releasing alligators and fun with friends ended with a hunter harvesting his biggest alligator to date on the Ross Barnett Reservoir.
“We got on the water about eight o’clock Saturday night,” said Ty White of Senatobia. “I had no intention of punching a tag, honestly. It was just a catch and release.”
White was hunting about 3 miles north of US 43 and he and friends had caught and released four alligators measuring between 6 feet and 10 feet. At 3 a.m., they saw something bigger.
“We were actually looking at a couple of other alligators and we spotted this one in a cut,” White said. “He was swimming away from us and we could tell he had a really big head. We made the decision to go after him.”
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White was hunting with Michael Fielder and son Hunter Fielder of Brandon, Ashley Harris of Canton and Philip Hollimon of Madison.
“They deserve as much or more of the credit,” White said. “I just happened to have the tags.”
But putting one of those tags on this alligator wasn’t going to be easy. White said time after time the hunters tried to hook the alligator using rods and reels, but didn’t have any luck. This continued from 3 a.m. until after daylight when one of the hunters made a blind cast at some bubbles coming up through the water where the alligator was last seen.
“The fight was on from there,” White said.
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The hunters managed to get a second line on him and then a third, but the alligator wasn’t giving up.
“It was pretty much holding on for dear life, to be honest,” White said. “He was pulling the boat and us.
“At one point he came out of the water like a whale. He came out of the water down to his back feet. It was really impressive. We knew he was really big at that point.”
Fight with alligator takes toll on hunters
And his size began to take a toll on the hunters. White said they began having muscle cramps as they tried to reel in the alligator, but after about an hour, the fight took a turn. One of the hunters was able to get a line on him using archery equipment.
“He showed no signs of slowing down until we shot him with a crossbow,” White said. “It was fairly easy to get him in after that.
“I was definitely glad when it was over. I was pretty much gassed and everybody else was, too.”
The alligator measured 12 feet, four inches, which is White’s personal best. His length was impressive, but his weight came as a surprise. White said alligators in the reservoir generally don’t weigh as much as those in areas with more food resources, but at 415 pounds, the alligator’s weight seemed unusually low.
“We thought he was thin even for the reservoir,” White said. “His belly was completely empty. It was weird.”
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