After three years of trying for a gator tag, Zack Derrick finally got one this season. He set out to kill a big gator, but he killed one even better than he’d imagined. Hunting out of Stumphole Landing on Santee, Derrick, his 8-year old son Chaz, and his Uncle Peewee killed a 13 1/2-foot long gator that weighed over 750-pounds.

The hunt took several hours. “We rode around looking for about three hours and saw one we wanted to go after. The gator was sunning itself, and we eased toward it. It slid under water, and we backed off and waited. It came up, we eased toward it again, and it went back under. This went on for a little while until we were finally close enough to cast a line his way,” said Derrick.

“We hooked him on our first cast from maybe 40-yards away. With that treble hook in him, he went under water immediately, but we were able to get another treble hook in him right away,” said Derrick.

The gator swam to the bottom, and was so heavy that Derrick starting wondering if his lines had come free of the gator and hooked into a sunken log instead. He tried several times to pull up as hard as he could, and finally the gator came up off the bottom just enough that Derrick could feel it move. 

“It just became a wrestling match then, and we’d get another line in the gator, then one would break off. When we finally got him to the side of the boat, we had two treble hooks in him on fishing line, and we had two bigger treble snatch hooks on ropes. My uncle and I had our hands full with a line in each one, and that’s when we realized that this gator was a lot bigger than we thought it was,” said Derrick.

“We’d been thinking it was 11-foot long, or maybe 12-foot long, but once we saw it, we kind of looked at each other, wondering what we’re going to do next. Luckily my son, who was the only one with a free hand on the boat, handed us the bangstick and bullets. People might think a little kid on the boat is just going to get in the way, but we couldn’t have killed this gator without Chaz,” said Derrick, who put the gator away with a Craig .44 magnum bangstick.

They took the gator to Claussen Alligator and Deer Processing in Florence, where Derrick Matherly weighed it and began processing the meat. Derrick plans to have a European mount done on the skull, and will have the hide tanned.

While dropping off the gator, Derrick said a deer hunter came in with a really nice buck. “I mean it was a real nice buck, and the guy was rightfully proud of it, but when he saw our gator, that kind of knocked the wind out of his sails,” said Derrick, who added that his favorite part of the  hunt is that it was with members of his family.

-For another big gator article from last year, click here.