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Hunter bags 800-pound alligator

By by Dianna Wray - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
Sept. 29, 2011 at 4:29 a.m.

Colin Murray, left,  and Bryon Murray pose with the 800-pound alligator. Daryl Smith shot the 13-foot, 10-inch alligator on Sunday at La Querencia Ranch near McFaddin.

Daryl Smith, of Victoria, has hunted gators for a long time, so he wasn't particularly nervous standing at the edge of a slough, looking down at the vague watery outline of a large alligator.

Until it lunged from the water.

Then he saw the full form of the creature as a 13-feet, 10-inches long scaly-skinned predator with rows of dagger-like teeth came into full view.

"I was surprised," he admitted with a laugh.

Russell Hofer and his nephew Grant Murray run an alligator hunting company. A license is required to hunt an alligator and hunters pay handsomely for the privilege.

Hofer works with local ranch owners to set up hunts every season.

"It's a good revenue for the ranchers and there are a lot of people who want to hunt them," Hofer said.

Hofer went to La Querencia Ranch on Sunday morning to search the property for alligators. The ranch is near the McFaddin community, Hofer said.

He saw the animal lurking down in a slough, and set about catching it, dangling a chicken leg on the end of quarter-inch thick fishing line.

The gator jumped from the water snapping up the meat and hooking itself in the process.

Once the gator was hooked, Hofer brought out Smith, .223 Remington in hand, to shoot it.

Even tethered to the fishing line, the gator was a fearsome creature, Hofer said.

The gator was lashing and thrashing in the water as Smith approached.

In hunting an alligator, it's important to be good with a gun, Hofer said.

"If the people shoot well then it's fine, but if they don't shoot well it can get pretty messy," he said.

An electric thrill went through Smith's veins as he took aim.

He killed it with a clean shot.

Hofer said it was the biggest alligator he has ever seen, maybe even a record breaker. They called a Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist to the scene to measure and weigh the animal.

After hauling it out of the water, they had to take it to a truck stop on the Port Lavaca Highway to weigh it. It weighed 800 pounds, Smith said.

People at the truck stop gathered around to take in the alligator. Some even turned their cars around to come back and see it.

"People were still afraid of it, even as it was laying there dead," Smith said.

They are still waiting to hear back if the alligator broke any state records, Smith said.

Now he is planning to have the skin turned into a rug. Even then, minus the it will weigh about 300 pounds.

Still, it was the spectacle of seeing the gator alive and in motion was exhilarating, Smith said.

"It's thrilling, seeing something that big at the end of a rope," he said.

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