News

Mississippi alligator hunt sets record

Mississippi alligator hunt sets record

Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks photo shows Cole Landers (L), Dustin Bockman (C), and Ryan Bockman (brother of Dustin) pictured with their record setting alligator weighing 727 pounds (330 kg), and measuring 13 feet (3.96 m) taken in Vicksburg, Mississippi on September 1, 2013 and released on September 3, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Ricky Flynt/Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks/Handout

By Emily Le Coz

JACKSON, Mississippi (Reuters) – Mississippi hunters smashed back-to-back records on the opening weekend of the state’s 10-day alligator season by bagging some of the biggest critters on the books.

Within hours of the August 30 opener, one hunting party caught the state’s longest and heaviest female gator at 10 feet and 295.3 pounds, according to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

A second record was broken shortly after midnight on September 1, when a different group of hunters nabbed the state’s heaviest male alligator at 723.5 pounds.

That distinction lasted about an hour, until another party captured one weighing 727 pounds, and measuring 13 feet.

Dustin Bockman, a 27-year-old UPS driver, and his crew spotted the mammoth creature in the Mississippi River and trailed it for two hours before getting close enough to spear it. It took another two hours to hook it with a second line and noose its neck.

Eventually, Bockman had to shoot the alligator.

It took another two hours and two extra men to hoist the gator on the boat, capping a grueling hunt that had Bockman’s girlfriend understandably nervous.

“I had sent him a text message at four in the morning, asking him, ‘Are you alive?’” said Amy Parsons. “I was afraid. I hadn’t heard from him all night and he hadn’t come home.”

Larger alligators have been trapped in Florida, weighing up to 1,000 pounds, and one last year measured 14-feet.

This is Mississippi’s ninth annual alligator season in a sport with growing popularity, said the state’s alligator program coordinator Ricky Flynt.

“It is quite an adventure and is perceived as being dangerous game,” he said.

Despite its inherent dangers, alligator hunting has produced just one injury in Mississippi, Flynt said. A man required surgery to his thumb after getting bit while trying to reel in a gator.

Flynt attributed the multiple records to an expanded territory – this is the first year Mississippi has allowed statewide hunting – and to normal water levels in the rivers. Last year’s droughts hindered the hunts, he said, despite a total haul of 513.

Mississippi does a lottery for alligator hunting licenses. More than 7,100 people applied this year and the state gave out just 920 permits. Also, the state requires hunters attend a mandatory alligator hunting safety course.

Recent Headlines

yesterday in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: April 23

elvis2

A look at the Hollywood headlines of years past.

yesterday in Sports

Pujols’ 500th HR helps Angels beat Nationals 7-2

los angeles of anaheim angels logo

Pujols is the first player to collect Nos. 499 and 500 in the same game, according to STATS. About three months past his 34th birthday, he's also the third-youngest to get to 500.

yesterday in Sports

MLB suspends 4 after Brewers-Pirates brawl

Pittsburgh Pirates' Travis Snider, left, takes down Milwaukee Brewers' Carlos Gomez (27) as Brewers' Rickie Weeks, right, joins a skirmish between the two teams during the third inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh Sunday, April 20, 2014. Gomez and Snider were ejected from the game.

Major League Baseball has suspended four players involved in last Sunday's brawl between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Milwaukee Brewers.

yesterday in Sports

Kentucky freshman Julius Randle to enter NBA draft 

After Kentucky guard Aaron Harrison (2) made a three-point basket in the final seconds against Wisconsin to win the game 74-73, he celebrates with Julius Randle (30) at the end of their NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas.

Randle averaged 15.0 points and 10.4 rebounds and was voted to The Associated Press' All-America third team.

yesterday in Sports

Spurs Popovich named NBA Coach of the Year

popovich

Gregg Popovich was voted NBA Coach of the Year, becoming a three-time winner of the award.

Bellingham Traffic