Hunter bags 12-foot, 2-inch Santee gator with Renegade Bowfishing

William Ard, Brian Carroll, Cole Poplin and Stephen Carroll, with their Santee gator.

Santee gator was a true trophy

While alligator hunting with Cole Poplin and William Ard of Renegade Bowfishing, Brian Carroll of Mt. Pleasant, SC killed a huge Santee gator that taped out at more than 12 feet long on Sept. 13, 2023.

It was just the size he was looking for.

After telling Poplin and Ard what size gator he was after, they put together a plan.

“We had a good idea of a few different places on the Lower Lake where we’ve seen some in the 12-foot range,” said Poplin. “We felt like if things went our way, we’d get onto one of them pretty quickly.”

Getting on the water just before nightfall in their airboat, they spotted numerous gators almost right away, with several in the 10-foot range.

“Not too many people see a gator that big in the wild. Brian was about ready to take one of the 10-footers, but we told him we were confident we could get him a chance at a 12,” said Ard. “We kept a couple of those 10s in mind in case it got late without getting a shot at a bigger one.”

“Then it happened kind of out of nowhere,” said Carroll. “We were out in open water, scanning for gators. All of a sudden, we passed right by a big one.”

“It was long and wide. An exceptional gator. When they get that big, they really stand out,” said Poplin.

Calm night turns into mayhem

Carroll was holding an Umarex AirSaber, a pneumatic-powered arrow gun, when the gator appeared. He prepared for a shot, but as the gator moved quickly in one direction and the boat in the other, he thought better of it.


Poplin circled the boat around. Luckily, the gator hadn’t moved far. After getting one arrow in him with a line secured to a buoy, then another arrow, then a harpoon, the gator’s time was limited. But it didn’t give up without a fight.

Ard got a GatorTaker treble hook in it, and he and Poplin pulled the gator, violently thrashing and gnashing, to the side of the boat as Carroll prepared for a shot with a bangstick. One shot in the head stunned the gator, but not for long. A newfound burst of energy from the gator started the battle over. Ard and Poplin pulled the lines again. Another shot, this one from Carroll’s handgun, finally put an end to the fight.

The gator was too heavy to pull into the boat, so they pulled the boat into shallow water. Then Ard and Poplin got in the water, taped the gator’s mouth, and lifted the gator’s head into the boat, while the rest of the crew pulled the beast onto the boat’s deck. After a few minutes of manual labor, they headed back to the landing with the gator on deck.

Poplin put a tape measure on it, and recorded the gator at 12 feet, 2 inches long.

“This was a successful hunt. We went looking for a trophy, found it, and had it in the boat before 11 p.m. It doesn’t happen like that every night,” said Poplin.

Poplin and Ard hunt all gator units, and can be reached at 803-968-4130


Click here to read about Kim Lawhon’s Santee alligator hunt.

About Brian Cope 2800 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

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