RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The first-ever alligator hunt at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge east of Rio Hondo concluded this week, and 17 of the toothy creatures were taken by permitted hunters.
The biggest was a massive 12-footer wrangled by 15-year-old Tripp Payne and his dad Keith.
Tripp, who weighs around 170, had to use all his strength to haul in the nearly 500-pound behemoth without getting dragged in himself.
“This is amazing. It is really hard though,” said Tripp.
After working the giant near shore, Keith joined in to assist his son in getting the huge gator in close for a kill shot.
“That’s amazing…you just, probably for years to come killed the biggest alligator at Laguna Atascosa. You are going to hold the record for a long time,” said Keith Payne.
Now the real work begins, getting the alligator onto the road and into the truck.
But first a quick measurement, “12 feet long.”
It took four people, but finally, the hefty gator was loaded, with a lot of tail hanging out the back.
Next, it’s off to the cooler and an official weight.
“Tripp what’s this alligator weigh… 491 pounds.”
“Twenty tags issued, we got two of the 20 tags. Yesterday, we got an 11-foot-3, I did, and kind of joked around and said Tripp was going to beat my little one today, and he absolutely beat it,” said Keith.
“It’s amazing,” said Tripp. “I really didn’t expect that big of a gator. They are so much bigger up close. They are really cool to see because they are dinosaurs.”
With an 11-foot-5-inch and a 12-foot-2-inch alligator to take home, this father-son team will have a lot of tasty alligator meat to share with friends and family back in Central Texas.
“It’s awesome. There are so many giant gators here, and this might not even be the biggest,” added Tripp.