13.5-Foot, 645-Pound Alligator Caught in Florida Panhandle

Travis Gill found the alligator in the water off Escambia County Monday, the Pensacola News Journal reported

Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013  |  Updated 5:09 PM EDT
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Courtesy pnj.com

Travis Gill (right), Wade Schepper (left) and Blake Hammac with the 13.5-foot alligator.

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When a Pensacola Beach man went hunting for an alligator, he came up with a whopper.

Travis Gill was trolling for gators Monday when he found a 13.5-foot, 645-pound creature in the water off Escambia County, the Pensacola News Journal reported.

Gill, along with Wade Schepper of Gulf Breeze and Blake Hammac of Pensacola, hooked the gator with a treble hook and a harpoon.

"We saw it and crept up with a trolling motor," Gill told the newspaper. "We threw a treble (hook) at it and when we got up to where he was, we thought it was a log because we couldn't get it off the bottom."

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They hooked it with another treble and a harpoon, and then fought the gator for three hours. Finally, they used a bang stick to kill it.

Then, they couldn't get the gator in the boat.

"We had to tow him behind the boat until we found a piece of land to load him in," Gill said.

The gator ultimately collected was only a foot short of the state record of 14 feet and 3.5 inches, according to the News Journal.

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Gill declined to say where exactly he caught the creature. He has two tags for the harvest of alligators, and told the News Journal he’s looking to use the second tag.

The tags are issued by the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species through a lottery system. Alligator hunters have to follow the guidelines issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The gators must be harvested between 5 p.m. and 10 a.m. And they are not allowed to set lines. Bang sticks are allowed as long as an alligator is already attached to a retraining line.

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Once the gator is killed, it has to be tagged immediately.

Gill said he had been on the water looking for alligators every night since Aug. 15, when gator harvest season began. After the big catch, he took Monday night off, but said he would return to the water after that to look for his second gator.

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