The Biggest Gator I’ve Ever Seen . . . No Kidding

Lane gator 3

For many years, down at Iamonia Lake, there was a huge gator who had staked out a territory near a stand of cypress trees where the lake forked. One of my father’s friends, Gene Richards, was driving his boat a little too fast in that stretch one day and got distracted by the behemoth sunning on the bank. As a result, he hit a cypress knee and flipped his boat.

He said the last thing he saw before going in was the gator sliding into the water.

Someone asked, “What did you do?”  Gene said, “Let me put it like this: I got to the hill so fast that the money in my wallet wasn’t wet.”

* * *

Biologists refer to alligators of this size as “friggin’ monsters!”

No one that I know of ever measured that old gator, but most folks agreed he was as long as a boat. In those days, that meant about 12 to 14 feet long. And he was the biggest one I had ever heard of.

Until now, that is.

My friend, Lane Stephens, a Tallahassee lobbyist who also serves as a nuisance alligator trapper in Gadsden County, was called out on August 11 to get rid of a big gator on Lake Talquin. What he came back with is now, officially, the biggest one I’ve ever seen in my 47 years as a Floridian.

At 14 feet long, he is genuinely as big as most of the jon boats used to fish that lake. And at more than a thousand pounds, about twice as heavy. At that size, other alligators, deer, wild hogs, dogs and other animals become easy prey.

While most gators will shy away from contact, some get too familiar with us or grow so large that they lose their natural fear. That’s why hunters like Lane are frequently called to remove them.

When you see a gator, the best thing to do is admire him from a distance. Remember that it’s against the law to feed them, catch them or otherwise disturb them. If one is too close for comfort or has gotten too familiar, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at (866) FWC-GATOR and report it to them.

They rely on licensed experts like Lane out there who know how to remove nuisance gators without getting hurt.

And if Gene Richards was still around, he’d be the first to tell you that swimming with a large gator is the last thing you want to do.

* * *

You’ll see viral videos on the Web that present large saltwater crocodiles as alligators. Some folks will tell you they’ve seen gators “twice that size.” And there are shows like Swamp People that use clever camera angles and photography to make the gators appear larger than they really are. Trust me: When the official measuring tape and scales come out, you’ll see very few that are actually this big.

For more information about Florida’s nuisance alligator program, click here.

  • suzconner

    note to self….. never getting in the water again!

    • JimMcClellan

      I would say just don’t get in the water if you see Lane skulking around with a spotlight and a serious look on his face!!

  • Christy Corbin Evans

    They shot one down in our swamp last year that was 13’2 and 560 lbs. Not quite as big as those ones, but big enough to be scary! They raise ‘em big in the FL Panhandle.

    • JimMcClellan

      I remember that one. He was a long-time resident down there. Aunt Ann & Uncle Billy had a picture of him pretty close to the boat and you could tell he was a hoss even back then.

  • Sue Porter

    Rodney caught a good sized one last year, however, this one looks much more impressive. His was more than an “octave” between his eyes….the only measuring device I had was my hand :)

    • JimMcClellan

      I think an octave is the official measure, Sue!. This one was about 30 octaves long!! Thanks for reading.

  • Carol Hall

    since they have become protected they live so much longer and are allowed to continue growing. Every time I see a picture of one I just wonder how big is the daddy.

    • JimMcClellan

      There are some monsters out there. Thanks for reading, Carol.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ryan.todd.92 Ryan Todd

    now thats a tree shaka’!

    • JimMcClellan

      That’s an earth shaka’! Thanks for reading, Ryan!

  • http://www.facebook.com/randy.thrower.1 Randy Thrower

    Congratulations, Lane. You got a buyer for the hide?-Randy Thrower

    • JimMcClellan

      Randy, I passed your message along to Lane. Thanks for reading.

  • Wanda

    We grow things big in Gadsden Co.!

    • JimMcClellan

      Apparently you do! Thanks for reading, Wanda.

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OZCOCLYNOW7IEK5ITTERSAAIOQ james

    Reminds of that gator I wrestled a few years back when I was younger.

    • JimMcClellan

      If you took pictures or video, send them along!! Thanks for reading, James.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sheryl.walden Sheryl H Walden

    Lane Stephens and Jim McClellan…..Those Louisiana “Swamp People” got nothing on you guys! When I think of all the times I’ve been tubing on the Chipola and boating and fishing on the “big River” and in the Dead Lakes, I get shivers. I saw some big gators in all places. Back in the 70s, Eva Hayes and I saw a huge one south of the HWY 20 bridge on the Chipola. We floated past him as Burke Hayes and Steve Arrant snorkeled. Thankfully they didn’t surface and the gator stayed where he was…….

    • JimMcClellan

      Lane is the gator guy, Sheryl! By the way, you and Eva might have had to worry, but I’m pretty sure no gator would want Burke or Steve. Probably would have spit either of them right back out! Thanks for reading!!

  • JimMcClellan

    For those of you who didn’t hear it live, here is a link to Lane Stephens’ interview on WFLA with Preston Scott this morning. http://www.wflafm.com/player/?mid=22363702

  • borncountry

    They KILLED this gator? What a shame!! What did the gator do to get the tag of nuisance?

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  • HomerNBama

    Was the exact weight of this gator ever recorded or documented? Also, what about the belly and tail girth’s? Don’t recall seeing the official measurements. There is so much talk of the one that was recently KIA over in Issaquena, Mississippi which weighed 697 lbs, length 13′ 1 1/2″, Belly Girth 65″, Tail Girth 45″. Any official comments would be greatly appreciated.

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