GADSDEN COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) - A Crawfordville couple soon will have on their wall a trophy of the giant alligator they harvested in Gadsden County. Perhaps one of them will have pieces of the gator in his back pocket.
The 12 foot gator Justin Rock and his wife Alicia caught will serve some useful purposes. Justin said they will eat its meat and turn the animal's hide into such things as wallets, purses and belts.
They battled the gator, their fourth of the year and one of their largest, Sunday evening for 90 minutes while it dragged their shallow, flat-bottomed open boat for more than a mile trying to escape.
"We hooked him at 6 p.m. and finally pulled him out at 7:30 p.m. and got back to the ramp at 9 p.m. and had to tie him off," Justin said.
On the hunt Alicia does just as much as he does, only she has to be more careful because she's 13 weeks pregnant with their second child.
"We're a husband and wife team that love to hunt and fish together and have been hunting alligators for about nine years," Justin said.
In Florida, gator hunters are not permitted to use firearms.
After the couple found the gator, they got close to it and cast a weighted treble hook (snatch hook) over the gator's back and reeled it tight, snagging the gator much like a fisherman does a mullet.
"The difference is the hook won't penetrate the hide," Justin said."You grab on to it and you have to maintain pressure."
Hooked on rod and reel, the gator dragged their skiff until his wife drove a dart into the alligator's back and got the animal on a secure line.
Slowly, he said, they lifted the gator from the bottom of the water and used a crossbow to put another dart into it.
To dispatch the animal, they used a .44-caliber magnum round from a bang stick that they stuck behind the gator's head into a half-dollar size spot to hit its brain.
The bull alligator would have been six inches longer, Justin speculates, except that at some point in its life something bit off part of its tail.
Their son, Wyatt, 1, displayed no fear while going near the huge animal despite the fact that he weighs less than a fraction of the huge animal's tail.
Justin estimates that the alligator weighed between 500 and 600 lbs.
Over the years, Justin and his wife have harvested at least 50 alligators while hunting in Liberty, Franklin and Gadsden counties.
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