It took an Alabama family five hours to wrestle a 15-foot-long alligator from a swamp in Camden, Ala. over the weekend—the largest legal alligator killing by an Alabama hunter ever. After breaking a winch used to weigh gator catches, Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Biologists used a backhoe to lift the gator's body, which came in at 1,011.5 pounds.
"When I finally saw it the full-body mount at the Gee's Bend Terminal, the main thing I remembered was the size of its feet. When I saw the size of the foot on this one, I knew it was a good one," Mandy Stokes told AL.com. Stokes and her husband, as well as her brother-in-law and two nephews, were the crew who captured and killed the gator.
As AL.com's Jeff Dute reports, it was a long slog for the team to wrangle the creature. After battling the gator for some time from their boat, Mandy Stokes was able to fire a 20-gauge shotgun between the gator's eyes. Because the gator was too submerged, the shot ended up hitting the water.
"All it did was make this gator mad," Mandy Stokes said. "Fear had taken hold at this point." From AL.com:
The massive creature still hip-tied to the aluminum boat's cleats surged forward with its massive tail and began towing the 17-foot boat and its five passengers across the stump-strewn creek at a startling speed.
It was inevitable, but everyone onboard was still unprepared when the boat crashed into one of those stumps, sending the crew spilling on top of each other into the vessel's bottom.
It took several minutes to recover from the impact, but the crew found they were bruised but not yet beaten by the beast now hanging limply from the boat.
Shortly after their boat crashed into the stump, Stokes was able to fire off her shotgun once more, killing the gator. Hauling the gator back proved to be its own special challenge. From AL.com:
The reality of the need to now move the dead weight of such a huge animal set in when their best efforts to load the beast into the boat, including beaching it on the bank and trying to roll the gator in, proved fruitless.
They finally accepted the fact that the only way they were getting it back to the Shell Creek launch was to get as much of it as possible over the gunwale and strap it to the boat's side.
As much as possible equaled one front leg, one back leg and the tail.
It was in this manner, with the gator tied on one side and the five passengers hugging the opposite gunwale to provide counter-ballast, that they made the hour-long trek back to the truck.
"We give all the glory to God. Ten men couldn't have done what we did," John Stokes told AL.com.