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14-foot alligator might be the largest ever caught in Georgia

Derrick Snelson

CLAY COUNTY, Ga. — A Georgia man may have broken a state record after bagging a massive 14-foot alligator.

Derrick Snelson and his daughter, Shelby, were on Lake Eufaula with Lethal Guide Service, a hunting guide business, when they made the catch on Sept. 1. It was Snelson’s second time hunting alligators, and Shelby’s first.

The team spent six hours tracking the beast before finally getting a hook in the animal, shooting it, and hauling it aboard the boat. The whole process was a team effort, Snelson said.

“To be honest with you, we were just happy to see how big it was,” said Snelson. “I ain’t never caught anything like that before. It was just amazing.”

They took the animal to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for an official measurement, which came in at 14 feet and 1.75 inches, said Darrell Brown, owner of Lethal Guide Service. The catch was probably a new state record, with the previous record being 13 feet and 10.75 inches, though CNN could not reach the DNR on Sunday, Sept. 8 to confirm.

Shelby, 14, described the experience as kind of scary, but awesome.

“[The boat] was rocking back and forth, and a few times [the gator] hit the side of the boat with its tail,” she said, almost knocking her off.

But Shelby said she would “jump in the truck right now” if anyone asked her to go gator hunting again, calling it an adrenaline rush she won’t forget anytime soon.

“I’m glad I got to have that experience with my dad,” she said.

The Snelsons skinned the animal to use the meat. They also planned to get the gator mounted — all 14 feet — but Shelby said she has “no idea” where they’re going to put it.

“Might have to build a house around it,” she joked.

Georgia has an official alligator hunting season to help manage the state’s flourishing gator population. The season began at sunset on Aug. 16 and was set to run through sunrise on Oct. 7.

Hunters must apply for a special license to participate and are limited to one alligator.

Lake Eufaula, also known as Walter F. George Lake, straddles the Alabama-Georgia line some 170 miles southwest of Atlanta.

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