Three hunters from Sumter tagged a 12-foot-2, 820-pound alligator on Monday, Sept. 16, while hunting out of Pack’s Landing on Lake Marion. It was an animal that should have measured a good deal longer, but it proved plenty tough in the end -- requiring an extra shot after he was in the trio's boat.
Mike Colboth, Ernie Seruya and Chris Warren of Big Country Outfitters (803-840-51840 had seen the gator numerous times during the previous week, finally taking the animal early in the afternoon.
The gator measured two inches longer than 12 feet, but the tip of its tail had been cut off and scarred over at some point, and head measurements indicated that the animal would have been a 13-footer without the previous injury.
"Around 4:30, we saw a few 10-plus footers in one of the cuts near Low Falls Landing, and we picked out the biggest of them," Warren said. "When we tried to get in rod-and-reel range, the big gator disappeared, so we waited and watched. We were all watching the water at the last place we saw him, and we started eating some jerky. I turned around and looked behind us, and the gator was just sitting on the surface.”
Armed with a heavy fishing rod, Warren cast a large, weighted treble hook toward the gator with an Abu-Garcia 6500 reel spooled with 100-pound braid. After missing on the first attempt, Warren made good on the second one, throwing past the gator, then quickly retrieving and burying the hook into the animal’s body. Colboth then put another treble hook in it with a second rod-and-reel.
Seruya readied an 11-foot harpoon while Warren and Colboth fought the gator, which came free of Warren's hook once, then of Colboth's after Warren reconnected. When Colboth connected the second time, he and Warren reeled the gator close to their boat, then the gator sunk straight to the bottom and stayed there. The shallow water allowed Seruya to poke along the bottom with his harpoon, feeling for the gator. And when he found it, he drove the business end of the harpoon into the gator's back.
The point of the harpoon held fast and then released from the long shaft, deploying a long rope with a float attached to allow the men to track the gator. On this occasion, however, Warren just grabbed the rope and hauled the gator to the surface, where it thrashed about, leaving a few battle scars on the side of Warren's boat. Seruya had a clear and close-up shot at the gator's head, so he put a 9mm bullet from a handgun through it .
From the time Warren cast the first treble hook, it took about 20 minutes to haul the gator aboard.
"We thought he was dead then, and we taped his mouth shut, then pulled him in," said Warren.
But soon the gator started to thrash about. Warren told Seruya to put another bullet in the gator's head.
"While it's in the boat?" Seruya asked.
"I told him yes, and assured him the bullet wouldn't go all the way through," said Warren.
Seruya put another round in the gator's head, and the gator was done.