Florence hunters kill massive Santee gator

Santee gator

Santee gator was 12-feet, 10-inches long

Josh Davidson, Casey Stevens, Dillan White and Cody Bacot, all of Florence, S.C., went to Santee hoping to fill Stevens’ gator tag on Sept. 12. With very little scouting under their belt for the year, they happened upon a beast of a gator and killed it around 12:30 a.m.

The gator was almost 13 feet long and weighed right at 800 pounds. Davidson said they all felt very fortunate. They got on the water about 9:30 p.m., and by 11, they had a treble hook in the gator.

“We didn’t get to do really any scouting, so we were kind of just looking and hoping we’d find something,” said Davidson.

And find something, they did. They spotted a couple of gators pretty quickly, but lost contact with them and almost went back where they started from when one of the hunters spotted another gator.

“We’d gone down the river and had seen several, but nothing really that big. We went out into the river canal in the Blowout in those trees. We were actually after one for probably a little over an hour in there, but we couldn’t get him. So we were going to go back out to the river. We were headed back that way when Dillan shined the light over there and said ‘hey, there’s one,’” he said.

Santee gator put up a strong fight

They got a closer look and decided this gator was worth sticking around for.

“We could see both his eyes, and we could see there was a pretty substantial gap in between his eyes. So we knew he was a big one,” Davidson said.

Stevens made a cast with a rod and reel loaded with braided line connected to a big treble hook.

“He made the cast and started pulling. He thought he got hung on a log because it wasn’t moving at all. So we decided to try freeing the hook, and then it moved slightly. Casey said he had the gator on the line,” he said.

With a line in the gator, Bacot tossed the snatch hook out and pulled it back to the boat without making contact. He made another toss, this time farther out.

Dillan White, Josh Davidson, Cody Bacot, and Casey Stevens killed this massive Santee gator during S.C.’s opening weekend of the 2020 gator hunting season.

“He pulled and he felt something, so he snatched it hard. And when he did, that gator went crazy. It was like we were in an inflatable boat getting pulled around by another boat. It pulled us around in circles. He pulled us around like that for probably 15 minutes, and then he finally settled down,” he said.

Steve “The Legend” Drummond will handle the taxidermy duties

They eased their boat closer to the gator, whose tail came out of the water. Davidson shot a bowfishing line through the tail. He and White grabbed the line to hold the gator’s tail up, hoping it would help bring the beast to the surface.

“That went on probably another 45 minutes. Then we were finally able to get another treble hook into one of his feet,” he said.

This gave them enough leverage to get the gator up to the surface. Stevens finished the job with a .45. Then they headed to the nearest shore to work on getting the gator in the boat to head back to the landing.

They took the gator to 301 Deer & Wild Hog Processing and Taxidermy in Florence. They’re having Steve Drummond tan the hide, make a skull mount, and process the meat.

“We are making sure to use every bit of the gator that’s possible. Any time you kill something like that, you owe it to the animal to not let any of it go to waste,” said Davidson.

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About Brian Cope 2180 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at brianc@sportsmannetwork.com.

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