Jeremy Shealy of Pomaria and Chapin’s Hunter Neeley killed a giant alligator in the swamps of Santee on South Carolina’s opening day of 2018. The gator measured 13 feet, 2 inches in length, and weighed 1012 pounds.
After Shealy drew his first ever alligator tag, he knew Neeley was the man to call about putting a plan together. So on Sept. 8, Shealy and his girlfriend Stacy Clark joined Neeley aboard his airboat for an evening trip to Lake Moultrie with confidence that they’d bag a trophy. But none of them fully expected they’d kill one this size, or that they’d get the first hook in the big gator before dark.
“We got on the water about 6 p.m., and the wind was bad, so we had to fight that while we rode around checking a few spots I thought we’d see some gators. We finally got a look at a good one, but it immediately went down and stayed under water,” said Neeley.
But this was no average-sized gator, so the crew decided to wait it out in hopes it would resurface. About an hour later, it did.
“Jeremy made a cast at it, but he missed, and the gator went right back down. We sat there for about 15 minutes and luckily the gator reappeared. This time, Jeremy hooked it. The gator started swimming, and just before he spooled the whole reel, I cranked the outboard and went after it. We got another hook in him after a while, and then it just sank to the bottom and stayed there,” Neeley said.
At this point, the hunters put a 10-foot steel harpoon in the beast, then tried to get a second one in him.
“We had another harpoon that we were poking along the bottom with, trying to find the gator, but it took a bite at the harpoon and broke it. Then we were able to stick him with another one, then shot him with a bow. We had five lines in him now. We didn’t expect to get on one before the sun went down, and we never got the lights set up, so now we’re battling this big gator in the dark,” he said.
But with five lines in the big reptile, they were able to pull it to the surface to put a .45 round in it.
“Jeremy shot it once, and it just kind of fazed him. It swam off and sank again. We pulled him back to the surface, got two more shots in him, and that finished him off,” said Neeley.
With the gator finally dead, now Neeley, Shealy, and Clark tried to put it in the boat, but it was just too heavy. Luckily, Kyle Snelgrove and some friends were hunting nearby and came over to lend a hand. They finally got the beast onboard around 10:30 p.m.
Since South Carolina’s first alligator season, Neeley has taken friends every year, and has killed numerous gators over 11 feet long, and a few over 12, but this is the first time he’s ever been involved in a hunt that ended with a 13+ foot alligator.
Crick Hooker of Shear Water Taxidermy is making a mount for Shealy.