JACKSON, Miss. (NBC/WLBT) — The 2014 gator hunting season kicked off this weekend, and in Mississippi hunters are on the lookout for the biggest gators they can find. So far, so good because one hunter’s already snagged a record-breaking find.
Labor Day weekend has a special significance for alligator hunters in Mississippi. Robert Mahaffey of Brandon snagged a record-setting gator at 756 pounds, caught by in the first weekend of the season.
“That’s the largest one we’ve weighed so far that’s taken by a hunter,” said said Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, & Parks Alligator Program Coordinator Ricky Flynt. “We know there are larger individual alligators out there — wouldn’t be surprised to see 14-foot plus, or even 1,000 pounds. We know that’s capable of happening.”
Flynt says gator hunting is something that’s been popular for several years, permitted by the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, & Parks. But this is the second year wildlife officials have allowed the gator-hunting statewide, and it’s still in high demand.
“I think a lot of that can be thanked to cable television and various shows that are out there, have become very popular,” said Flynt. “You know, back in the late 70s and 80s, it was ‘Jaws’ and sharks. Sharks were the craze. I guess nowadays it seems like alligators are the craze.”
So what does it take to bag a record-breaking gator? Flynt says the longest one last year was a male measuring 13 feet 7 inches. For people looking to snag one of these, don’t worry. Flynt says there are plenty left to find.
“They’re very long-lived animals, so they can get to very large sizes,” said Flynt. “There’s obviously going to be a lot of large individual animals out there for the taking, and we expect those records to continue to be broken.”