Swamp training will never be the same for Sgt. Jesse Phillips, a mortarman for the U.S. Marines, who recently participated in his first-ever alligator hunt and helped bag a Mississippi state record.
The massive gator weighed 792 pounds and measured 13 1/2 feet from nose to tail. It was the largest male gator bagged in the state, with a belly girth of nearly 70 inches.
“During my swamp training I’m going to think about it a lot different now that I’ve snagged a 13-foot, 5-inch gator,” Phillips is quoted as saying in Military Times. “I don’t like snakes and I don’t like gators. But it ended up good—I faced my fears.”
Alligators, which are native to the southeast United States, are hunted seasonally to keep their numbers in check. States allocate a certain number of permits each season.
Phillips and two friends, Brian Montgomery and Scott Berry, ventured into the swamp along the Mississippi River at midnight. In their small boat they carried heavy-duty fishing rods with which to snag the thick-skinned reptiles (a traditional hunting method in most areas that allow hunting).
It took the might of all three hunters and 70 long minutes to get the gator close enough to be roped. The powerful beast inflicted damage to the boat and broke six hooks before it could be hauled close enough to be fashioned with a noose.
Once it was subdued, it was hauled into the boat, leaving almost no space for the hunters.
“It was shocking, a little scary,” Phillips said of the experience.
The three planned to eat some of the meat, and to have the gator stuffed as a trophy.
On average, adult American alligators measure about 10 feet and weigh roughly 500 pounds.