Mississippi alligator hunting season gets off to a record start

Wed Sep 4, 2013 5:31pm EDT
 
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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 (134 kg), 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 (328 kg).

That distinction lasted about an hour, until another party captured one weighing 727 pounds (330 kg), and measuring 13 feet (3.96 m.)

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."   Continued...

 
Dustin Bockman is pictured with his record setting alligator, weighing 727 pounds (330 kg) and measuring 13 feet (3.96 m), captured in Vicksburg, Mississippi on September 1, 2013, in this picture released to Reuters on September 3, 2013. REUTERS/Ryan Bockman/Handout via Reuters