Saturday, July 20, 2024

900-Pound Gator the Second Heaviest Ever Tagged in Florida

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Florida information Capt. Kevin Brotz has put hunters on loads of large alligators in his day. By his rely, it’s someplace round a thousand. By way of sheer weight, although, none have come near the 900-pounder that he and two buddies harvested on Aug. 25. In response to information stored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Fee, it’ll doubtless go down because the second-heaviest gator ever harvested within the Sunshine State.

The proprietor and operator of GetBit Open air, Brotz went out final Friday with two of his longtime purchasers turned shut mates, Carson Gore and Darren Subject. Gore had some leftover tags from this yr’s draw and had given one to Brotz. With the morning to himself, Brotz invited the 2 hunters to hitch him on a lake he’d been eager to discover close to Orlando.

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Gore and Brotz pull up on the hooked gator as Subject prepares to throw the harpoon; Gore will get a close-up view. Courtesy Kevin Brotz

“I knew that space had potential, however I had by no means hunted this precise spot and I didn’t know he was there,” Brotz tells Outside Life. “After we noticed the gator, we noticed him a couple of hours into the hunt. I believed he was 9 to 10 ft, possibly 11.”

Getting the Hooks In

Over the subsequent few hours, they performed cat and mouse. They’d see its head pop up after which disappear, solely to resurface half an hour later. Utilizing stout custom-made rods and 150-pound traces, they stored casting weighted treble hooks on the gator till Subject bought the primary hook in it. To their shock, the gator hardly budged. Even after Brotz bought a second treble hook in it, the gator didn’t appear to care and stayed on the underside of the lake.

“Sometimes, you hook an alligator and he’s gonna pull drag and spin the boat round similar to an enormous fish would,” Brotz explains. “And whenever you hook them a second time, they actually blow up.

“Then Carson hooked him and he simply stored crawling slowly on the underside,” Brotz continues. “That’s once I knew in my intestine: That is an absolute big. This factor is a beast.”

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Capt. Kevin Brotz pries open the jaws of the 900-pound beast. Courtesy Kevin Brotz

With three traces on the alligator, Brotz threw out a hand line—basically a rope—with a buoy on one finish and a 20/0 treble hook on the opposite. They had been capable of slowly convey the gator to the floor, the place Brotz hit it with a harpoon instantly within the eye. The gator nonetheless didn’t blow up, and over the subsequent three to 4 hours, they threw all of the traces that they had within the boat to attempt to get it again close to the floor. When the alligator lastly got here up for air, Brotz wasn’t fairly ready for what he noticed.

“I look on the alternative aspect of the boat not 5 ft away, and he porpoises up out of the water like a whale. I might see the highest of his entrance shoulders, and he was three to 4 ft out of the water,” he says. “We’re standing within the backside of the johnboat, and I’m solely 5 foot 3, so I used to be eye-to-eye with what felt like a T-Rex.”

Feeling the Worry

Sharing a 16-foot john boat with two grown males, Brotz says that they had about two inches of freeboard at that time. And after seeing the beast that they had on the opposite finish of the road, he realized for the primary time how precarious their scenario was.

“I actually felt—not scared, like I wanted to go away. However worry, as in: We have to play this sensible as a result of we might get in bother rapidly. If he had come up for air beneath us, or simply occurred to return over the aspect, we’re within the water and that boat’s sinking. Not in a great place.”

After some inventive engineering, which concerned reducing and splicing some traces, and utilizing life jackets as buoys, they lastly bought the large gator close to the floor once more. Brotz hit it with the bang stick a couple of instances, they usually spent the subsequent half hour untangling the gator earlier than they may drag it to the closest financial institution. Then they confronted the monumental job of getting the alligator within the boat with out swamping.

Learn Subsequent: The way to Cook dinner a 12-Foot Gator: Alligator Recipes from a Florida Chef

They tried to tug him over the gunnel however rapidly gave up. Finally they had been capable of spin the boat round, get the gator on shore, and roll him up excessive sufficient so they may roll him again down into the tied-off boat.

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Loading up the beast on the boat ramp. Courtesy Kevin Brotz

“It took loads of cool, calm resolution making to place all of it collectively,” Darren says. “However I couldn’t have been with a greater crew.”

Weighing the Large Gator

It wasn’t till the next morning that they had been capable of weigh the alligator. (Darren had a visit that night and left the gator in a processor’s walk-in cooler in a single day.) They used a trailer to haul it to a scrapyard, the place it was hoisted up with a forklift and weighed on an authorized scale. Brotz’s official weight ticket confirmed 900 kilos.

If that weight holds as much as scrutiny, it’s going to make Brotz’s alligator the second heaviest ever harvested within the state. FWC maintains a document of the top-10 largest gators which have been taken within the wild going again to 1977, and the heaviest on document weighed 1,043 kilos. There are 5 different gators on the top-10 checklist that weighed 800 kilos or extra, however none have cracked the 900-pound mark. Brotz says he spoke with FWC on Friday to begin the method of getting his gator licensed and added to the top-10 checklist. After that, he’ll be getting a full physique mount accomplished.

“It was a simple resolution. There’s just one factor to do with a gator that large,” Brotz says. “He’ll stay eternally in the home as a reminder of the beast that he’s.”



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