It’s alligator hunting season throughout much of the southern United States, and for those brave enough to go after an animal that survived the ice age the hunt can be an absolute thrill of a lifetime. It’s no wonder gator hunting is the subject of numerous reality TV shows.

There are only so many hunting permits each year, which means hunters can spend years waiting for the opportunity to snag a giant. So you better make sure it’s a good one.

In the world of gator hunting, you’re typically looking for a specimen that’s at least 8 feet long. That’s the legal limit in most states. But if you’re worth anything as a certified gator wrangler, you’ll want to target something in the 12 feet range. That will be a gator at least 700 pounds and should be enough to get you in the local paper. 

In South Carolina, Zack Derrick got a mention in The State newspaper out of Columbia, South Carolina by battling a 755-pound gator for three hours. 

“You hook him with rod and reel, and you want to get a second line in him because at least one of them is going to pop out,” he told the paper. “You keep putting lines on him and then the fight is on.”

Down in Florida, a husband and wife gator hunting team caught a wild one in a 12 feet 2 inch lizard king with fishing gear and a harpoon. Tony and Holly Sartori took an air boat to a location where they hooked a monster gator each of the past three years, which they figured were part of a harem, they told Sarasota Channel 10 News.

“We knew where he was, with a group of females. He’s been there every year,” said Tony.

“It is a super adrenaline rush,” he told AL.com. “It is you against beast. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t.”

In Mississippi, Clayton Gibson and his friends hooked a mammoth gator that too them for a ride across the lake. This Goliath had no problem dragging two boats around on a sight-seeing tour for an hour, Gibson told the Clarion-Ledger. 

“He could do pretty much whatever he wanted,” Gibson said. “He was pulling the boats faster than you could swim.”

After an hour of wrangling, they were finally able to bring the gator to the boat when it bit into the side leaving teeth marks. It then went down for another 30 minutes before they got it to the surface again. Once they dispatched it, they realized just how big it was, officially weighing 822 pounds, breaking a Mississippi state record. 

Lastly, in Alabama comes one of the coolest alligator hunting stories we ran across. A few weeks ago a couple of guys got a 700-pound gator in Lake Eufaula. They hooked it on fishing gear, then hit again with a harpoon and battled for the next two hours as it pulled and spun. Finally, after it was fatigued enough they drew it near to hit it with a stun gun, basically a .44 caliber pullet attached to the end of a stick that triggers on impact. 

“The adrenaline rush was something I never felt in my life,” one of the hunters, Danny Roberts told AL.com.

The thing about this gator is that it was beaten up. It was missing part of its tail and it had taken bite marks. Whatever it did battle with had to be bigger than it was. 

Then arrives Mark Fletcher who hires a guide to try and find the rumored beast. After nine trips onto Lake Eufaula without any luck, Fletcher finally lands the giant. Sure enough it measured 13 feet and weighed nearly 900 pounds.