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Alabama gator hunters bag a big-un on opening night

August 19, 2009 | 10:52 am

Caution to viewers: Video footage shows graphic gun blast to the head of a wild alligator.

News item: Matt Thornton of Mobile, Ala., and five hunting partners bag a 13-foot, 5-inch, 701-pound alligator to claim the Alabama state record on the first night of gator season on the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. (Here's the story and video link in the Mobile Press-Register.)

Reaction: Someone, or some folks, will be wearing some shiny new gator boots soon.

Second reaction: Alligator hunting is increasingly popular in the South, as a means of sport and pest control, and you can tell by watching the video that hunters enjoy venturing into the swamp by night in search of the mother of all gators.

But being from California, where there are no swamps or gators but there is a strong and growing population of animal lovers, I can't help but wonder how these types of hunts would go over if, somehow, the Golden State became overrun with the toothy reptiles. My guess is that there would be hefty opposition to people using treble hooks to snare so large an animal, before dispatching with a close-range blast to the head.

Final statement: This is not a condemnation. I'm pro-hunting in most cases. I'd just never seen anything quite like this, is all.

-- Pete Thomas

Video courtesy of the Mobile Press-Register