Four Decatur County residents made Georgia history on Wednesday, Sept. 25. Dr. Daniel White, Alex “Bud” Harrell, Gary Braswell and tag-holder Jim Overman bagged a new state-record alligator from Lake Seminole. The 13-foot, 10-3/4-inch monster broke the previous record from 2010 by 1 3/4 inches.
What started out as a teal scouting trip for Daniel and Bud ended up being one really memorable night.
“We rounded a corner of an island, and I saw what I thought was a dead gator," said Daniel. "He was floating really high and looked oversized like a bloated dead gator does. Then when we got about 100 feet from him, he turned and looked at us, and that’s when we knew he was alive. Anytime we would get within 50 feet of him, he would swim right at the boat. It was very non-typical animal behavior. At one point, we got within 10 feet of him and snapped a picture."
When they realized the alligator wasn’t afraid of people, they started trying to find someone with a Zone 2 alligator tag to come kill it. Their first call was to local taxidermist Gary Braswell to see if he knew of anyone.
Forty-five minutes later Gary and Jim met Daniel and Bud at the landing and followed them to the gator. The crew then shot two arrows at him at once—one struck home and one malfunctioned. What followed was a frantic search for the buoy under some of the thickest hydrilla on the lake. They ended up stumbling onto the line by following the bubbles and reaching through the grass with push poles and eventually even poked the gator again with a push pole. When the crew was trying to get a heavier harpoon rigged to have a sturdier line in him, the gator snapped the line from the first arrow, and they thought all was lost.
A little over an hour later the big guy surfaced. One broken harpoon and an another hour struggle later, they were able to get close enough to gaff the gator in the head and deliver the finishing shots with a pistol. It took another hour and a lot of creative thinking to get the gator in the boat and to the landing.
It was officially measured and declared a state record about noon on Thursday, Sept. 26.
Look for a feature article of the full adventure in next month’s GON.