Gator breaks state record in first weekend of season

Published 1:02 pm Monday, August 29, 2022

JACKSON — It didn’t take long for the first record to fall during Mississippi’s alligator hunting season.

Madison residents Jim Denson and Richie Denson set a state record by bagging an alligator measuring 10 feet, 2 inches long Sunday on the Pearl River.

The catch set the Mississippi record for longest female alligator. It also tied a previous world record for the longest free-ranging wild female alligator, which was measured in Florida in 1984. That record was broken in Florida in 2021, with a female alligator that measured 10 feet, 6.75 inches.

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The Densons caught their gator about 5 miles north of Ross Barnett Reservoir. Mississippi’s 2022 alligator hunting season began Friday and continues until Sept. 5 at noon.

The previous Mississippi record for longest female in public waters had been a pair measuring 10 feet even. One was caught on the Pascagoula River in 2013, and the other was caught on Steele Bayou north of Vicksburg in 2019.

The private lands record is 10 feet, 1/2 inch and was caught in Issaquena County in 2015.

The Densons’ gator had been previously captured and tagged as “Yellow 410” by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks in 2009. At that time, the alligator also measured 10 feet, 2 inches and was captured within 100 yards of where the Densons killed the record alligator

The goal of the research project is to obtain biological measurements and location information in hopes that hunters may one day recapture or harvest previously tagged alligators in order to learn more about the animals’ movements and growth rates.  

Since 2007, over 800 alligators have been captured and tagged in Mississippi. There have been dozens of hunter reported recaptures since 2007.

“Each recapture provides us with interesting data that no other states are obtaining. I am very proud of what we are learning,” said Ricky Flynt, the MDWFP’s alligator program coordinator. “This is just another example of the value of hunters and hunting to wildlife biologists and wildlife conservation. Much of what biologists know about many species across the world came from similar mark-recapture projects involving hunter harvest data.”

Flynt said there is no reliable methods to determine the age of a live alligator. However, based on the date from 2009 and 2022, he estimated that Yellow 410 could have been between 75 and 100 years old.

“This is definitely a world class alligator specimen,” Flynt said.