2 locals enjoy 10-day alligator season
Published 8:01 pm Saturday, September 12, 2015
The 2015 alligator season in Mississippi was a big one. On Aug. 29, a record-breaking alligator was caught that was more than 14 feet long and 826 pounds. Every year, Lincoln County residents race against time in hopes of taking an alligator. City prosecutor Joseph Durr and local veterinarian Dr. Bob Watson are just two who enjoy the yearly experience.
“You gotta go after it hard,” Durr said, and for good reason. The 2015 Mississippi public waters season began on Aug. 28 and ended Sept. 7, just 10 days later.
Durr and Watson both recommend doing it at night.
“It’s a beautiful place to be on some of our Mississippi rivers at night,” Watson said. “[It’s] the stillness of being on the river at night, along with the experience of getting up-close and personal with an alligator.”
Durr said if you flash a light at an alligator at night, their eyes glow orange and you can see them a mile away.
There are a number of methods you can use to legally catch an alligator, and Durr prefers to use a fishing rod. On the end of it is a treble hook — a large, three-pronged hook that looks like something out of “Moby Dick.”
After getting hooked, Durr said, “He’s not very happy. […] One fought for over two hours.”
When the alligator finally gets close enough, they catch it with a snare. Durr was hunting with Watson one year when things went a little wrong.
“He [the alligator] just lifts himself up out of the water and snaps the rod in half,” Durr said. “It’s very humbling when you see something that big and that powerful.”
The largest Durr caught was more than 11 feet and 500 pounds. Its massive hide hangs on the wall in his office. Some are smaller, though, and Watson warns that it’s not a good idea to underestimate them.
“You think the smaller ones are safer. Maybe you’re a little less cautious. I’ve had a few closer calls with the smaller ones.”
They aren’t easy to catch either.
“Alligators are super intelligent. They know how to get off a hook. They’re not easily caught,” he said.
Durr and Watson both love eating fried alligator, but more important are the memories made going out hunting with friends and family.
Watson recalls going often with his son, Colton Watson, who caught and released a 5-foot-long alligator with a throw-rope. This last season is the first Durr has taken with his own son, Brady Michael Durr. Durr says it’s the most memorable trip he’s ever been on.