On Saturday, August 26, after an intense seven-hour battle, a crew of hunters hauled in the biggest alligator ever caught and recorded in the state of Mississippi. The monster weighed an astonishing 802.5 pounds, according to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP). And at 14-feet, three inches long, it out-measured the Magnolia State’s previous length record by a little more than two inches.

Donald Woods, Joey Clark, Will Thomas, and Tanner White were hunting on the Yazoo River in the West Central Alligator Hunting Zone when Woods hooked into the enormous reptile with a large weighted treble hook around 9 p.m. “We knew he was wide,” Woods later told the Clarion-Ledger. “His back was humongous. It was like we were following a jon boat.”

According to Woods, the crew went on to hook the gator eight or nine times, but it kept on breaking their rods and reels. It swam to the bottom of the Yazoo, settled in beneath logs, and stopped moving for hours on end. Finally, around 3:30 a.m., the big gator started to lose its stamina. A half hour later, the hunters dispatched it and pulled it aboard their boat.

MDWFP issues 920 tags during its 10-day gator hunting season.
MDWFP issues 920 tags during its 10-day gator hunting season. Red Antler Processing.

“We just knew we had a big alligator,” Woods told the Clarion-Ledger. “We were just amazed at how wide his back was and how big the head was. It was surreal, to tell you the truth.”

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Andrew Arnett, the state’s Alligator Program coordinator, came out to record the official measurements. The girth around its tail measured a full 66 inches in diameter, and its belly girth taped out at whopping 46.5 inches. It outweighed the previous record, taken in 2017, by a full 36 pounds.