When Jason Meeks told his hunting buddies he wanted to improve on the size of the first alligator he took two years ago, a 10-foot, 480-pounder, he didn't realize what a battle loomed ahead.
Meeks, along with three friends, all from Bishopville, literally hooked into a monster gator in the Borrow Pit immediately below the Wilson Dam that impounds Lake Marion.
Meeks said the big alligator was almost too much to handle.
"The alligator was 12 feet, nine inches long, and there was a good-sized chunk missing from the end of his tail," he said. "We weighed the gator on certified scales at the Keziah Logging Mill in Lee County, and it tipped the scales at 740 pounds."
Meeks picked the Borrow Pit because he knew there were huge gators lurking there; he'd seen plenty of them while fishing the area.
Meeks said Jason Watkins and Jeremy Keziah were in the boat with him when they began the hunt. He said they arrived late in the evening, around 11 o'clock on Sept. 13. But just after midnight, they spotted what they knew was a huge alligator, and Watkins snatched onto it with a 12/0 treble hook.
"Right from the beginning, it was real struggle," Meeks said. "The big gator pulled us quickly to the other side of the pit. When we got to the other side, we were able to hook him with another treble hook, which gave us one near both ends of the gator. We were using 100-pound-test braided line on big, powerful rods, which I feel is very important when battling a big gator.
"We finally got him to the boat and were able to get an arrow into his back," Meeks said. "That's when the thing really went wild. The alligator started rolling, twisting and turning and broke my rod in two places immediately and then broke Jeremy's rod. The two braided fishing lines were all that kept us hooked up to the gator. We had another boat of friends down there with us, so we called them in for help.
"Jason Atkinson, who is also from Bishopville, got in the boat with us and put another snatch hook in him, and we arrowed him again. We finally got the gator to the side of the boat, and Jeremy Keziah shot him with the .357. That slowed him down, but it took another shot from me with a .357 to finally kill the gator."