ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Reasonably high water at the dark of the moon made for a great opening for Mississippi’s alligator season, says the state’s alligator program coordinator.
Saturday was one of the best opening nights ever, said Ricky Flynt of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
“From everything I’m hearing — and I’m getting accounts from officers all across the state — it has gone really well,” he told the Clarion-Ledger.
Ellisville hunters Brandon “Boo” Maskew and Allen Purvis said they caught a double state record: a 10-foot-long, 295.3-pound female.
If it’s verified and nobody else catches a bigger by the season’s end on Sept. 9, they’ll hold Mississippi’s record for both length and weight for female alligators.
“I don’t know that there were more gators than last year, but the conditions were perfect. There wasn’t a lot of mist, so we could see a long way,” Purvis said.
Given the conditions, they figured they could do better than their first catch, an 8-footer. They let it go.
Around midnight, they spotted one in the 11-foot range. They got two lines on it. After a 30-minute battle that Maskew said felt more like 90 minutes, they finally subdued the beast. It wasn’t the 11-foot gator they were shooting for, but after two fights in one night, it was close enough.
At daybreak, their gator was next to someone else’s. They noticed some differences, took a closer look and discovered they had a female.
Each alligator hunting permit is for a specific area.
Maskew’s and Ellis’s was on the Pascagoula River, where bow hunters from Oxford shot a 12-foot-long, 575-pound gator on Saturday.
That one took three shots to kill and a lot of work to get into the boat, Roman Kling told The Sun Herald.
“We drug it through the marsh for an hour or more to an old boat ramp we found,” Kling said. “A guy was putting in to go fishing and he helped us roll it up on the dock, then we rolled it into the boat from the dock. Then we were able to drive back to the marina.”
He and Dylan Williams are storing it for now in a walk-in cooler.
Williams plans to tan its hide, after they receive official approval, and Kling plans to mount the head.
Anthony Acy, of Brandon, and his hunting party hunted in Steele Bayou north of Vicksburg, and got an 11-foot, 11-inch beast estimated to weigh over 500 pounds.
Like Maskew and Purvis, they were selective.
“We caught three and released them before we got this one,” Acy said. “We hooked another one about this same size, but we lost him.”