Young Mother Bags 11-Foot Alligator With a Crossbow in Florida's St. Johns River

After sitting out last year's gator season because she was pregnant, 23-year-old Arianne Prevost made the most of her 2009 hunt, tagging an 11-footer with a crossbow Tuesday, September 8 in Florida's St. Johns River. It was the first ever gator hunt for the Satellite Beach mother. Prevost was hunting with her boyfriend, Robert Rohmann, of Indian Harbour Beach, and Capt. Peter Deeks, of Merritt Island, both of Native Sons Outfitters, when they spotted the big gator around 9 p.m. in shallow marshland between Lake Washington and Lake Winder. "We'd been watching two big gators that dove underwater, and we were about to give up when we saw two red eyes about 35 yards away," Prevost said.
She had no idea how massive the animal was until she made her first shot, after closing to 7 yards. "When I got that first shot in him he started to thrash around, and the guys said then he must be every bit of 11 ft.," Prevost recalls.
Rohmann, left, and Deeks estimate the gator's weight between 450 and 500 lbs.
On the first shot Prevost used a Muzzy Predator, a barbed arrow that carries a line with a buoy on the end that allows hunters to track the gator once it dives. "With a gator that big, you want at least two buoy lines in before you feel comfortable," Rohmann says. "Her first shot was right where you want it--the middle of the back."
Prevost also put the second buoy line right where it was needed, in the gator's neck. That shot placement allows the hunter to more easily control the animal's movement.
With a second buoy line in, the mood on the 13-foot airboat was jubilant--even as a gator nearly as long as their boat dived beneath them and banged against the hull. "It was a little scary," Prevost admits, "but by then I was pumped up. I wasn't going to be denied."
Prevost loaded a broadhead on her Viper Rattler crossbow, which is equipped with a NcStar laser sight. She relied on Rohmann to cock it for her. "I'm good for about 4 or 5 times cocking it, but the adrenaline was flowing," Rohmann laughs. "I might have gotten a couple more done if we needed them."
They didn't need them. "The kill zone on an alligator's skull is about the size of the cap on a water bottle," Rohmann says, "but Arianne made a perfect shot, and the gator went down."
The trio waited close to an hour before hauling the gator back to the surface. Believing the fight was over, Rohmann tried to use a gaffe to pin the gator against the boat so they could tape its jaws shut. But the gator came to life and started snapping.
After she delivered a second broadhead between the gator's eyes, Prevost realized that she'd gotten exactly what she'd asked for.
"I told the boys when we went out, 'I want you help me get a 10-ft. gator or better,'" she explains. "They just laughed, but they did it."
Prevost, who grew up hunting deer with her father in Mississippi, was so unimpressed by Florida's small deer that she hasn't hunted them yet. But she and 10-month-old daughter Baleigh are plenty impressed by the size of Florida gators.
She hopes to fill her one remaining tag, too, but Rohmann says this gator will be hard to top.
Prevost isn't buying that. "I've got to top it," she says. "I can't go downhill from here."

23-year-old Arianne Prevost took this 11-foot Alligator with a crossbow in Florida last week. Check out our photos of her kill, and read the story by clicking through the slides.