Measuring 15 feet long and weighing in at a staggering 1,011.5 lbs, this giant alligator was pulled out of a river in Alabama on Saturday morning, becoming the largest ever caught. The woman who did so broke out her special pearl necklace to celebrate.
Like coyote/wolf hybrids on the east coast, alligators represent a success story for a large predator thriving alongside mankind here in America. Once on the verge of extinction due to habitat destruction and pollution, the American Alligator now thrives; five million of them live throughout the Southeast. Controlled hunts help keep their populations healthy and in check through states like Louisiana, Arkansas and Florida.
This guy was caught by Mandy Stokes and family outside Camden, Alabama after an epic battle that lasted throughout Friday night and into Saturday morning. Mandy's brother-in-law set the first hook at 10:30am and it wasn't until 5am on Saturday that she was able to fire the fatal shot with her shotgun into the base of the gator's skull. But, that wasn't the end of the struggle.
Mandy wore this pearl necklace especially for the hunt.
Equipped with only a 17-foot aluminum boat, the five members of the Stokes clan then had to figure out how to bring the creature back to their take-out point. Efforts to lift it into the boat failed, but they did eventually manage to lash it to one side. With so much weight, the boat wanted to tip, so the family spent the ride back to the dock hanging off the opposite gunwale, like sailors countering a strong wind.
Gator world records are a bit murky, but the previous world record appears to have been held by a hunter in Texas, who bagged an 880 pounder back in 2007.
The Stokes are having the gator taxidermied, but haven't yet figured out where they will display it.
Photos: Sharon Steinmann, AL.com