Panhandle man catches 13.5-foot alligator

PENSACOLA, Fla. - A Pensacola Beach alligator hunter made a big catch.

Travis Gill was trolling for gators Monday when he found the 13.5-foot, 645-pound creature in the water.

The Pensacola News Journal reports Gill, along with Wade Schepper of Gulf Breeze and Blake Hammac of Pensacola, hooked the gator with a treble hook and a harpoon. They fought it for nearly three hours before killing it with a bang stick.

"We saw it and crept up with a trolling motor," Gill said. "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."

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.

Gill has two tags for the harvest of alligators, issued by the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species through a lottery system. The 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.

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 he's out again, looking to "fill this second tag."

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.