Trapper takes gator Goliath

spectr17

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Trapper takes gator Goliath

By Don Wilson | Sentinel Staff Writer.

Posted September 27, 2001

The heaviest, and almost the longest, alligator killed in Florida in 12 years has been taken by professional trapper Charles Fagan from a 900-acre ranch in Polk County.

The 13-foot, 11-1/4-inch, 880-pound Goliath was the third-longest wild gator on record and the second-heaviest ever killed in the state, state wildlife biologist Arnold Brunell said.

Fagan, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound "alligator rancher" and his friend Jon Ackley spent an hour playing tug-of-war with the huge reptile at the ranch about 10 miles west of Bartow and five miles south of Mulberry on State Road 60. They baited it with a giant hook containing a chunk of beef and connected by a 12-yard rope to a half-inch diameter iron bar that had been hammered into the ground.

"He gets in the water and can't get a toehold," Fagan said. "He got to the end of the tether and we'd pull him back, then he'd take off again and we'd pull him in. It took about an hour to wear him out -- he didn't raise much sand -- didn't give you a fight like a nine-footer will do. But he did manage to burn a hole in my leather gloves."

When the exhausted gator became entangled in a ball of vegetation, Fagan shot it with a .22 rifle.

Fagan said they took 15 other alligators from the ranch that day, Sept. 19, including two others more than 13 feet long.

The ranch includes reclaimed phosphate mine pits that have been stocked with tilapia as food for the alligators.

It is just one of a number of similar tracts where Fagan leases alligator hunting rights.

"It's the same thing as ranching cows -- we just ranch alligators," he said.

Under a state alligator-harvest program for private wetlands, the alligators may be hunted nearly all year, Fagan said. The hunting season on public lands is just five weeks long.

Fagan said he can take 600 to 800 gators in six months. Hide prices range from $60 to $100 per foot for a 12-foot or longer gator destined to become a trophy mount to $30 to $35 per foot for lesser animals.

He can get $4.50 per pound, wholesale, for the meat, mostly from the tail. Fagan said last week's giant yielded just 200 pounds of marketable meat.

Charles Fagan said this 880-pound gator yielded only 200 pounds of marketable meat.'It took about an hour to wear him out -- he didn't raise much sand -- didn't give you a fight like a nine-footer will do. But he did manage to burn a hole in my leather gloves.'




The state-record gator, as far as length is concerned, is the 14-foot, 5/8-inch, 800-pound reptile taken from Lake Monroe in 1997, Brunell said. The heaviest alligator weighed 1,043 pounds, was 13 feet, 101/2 inches, and was killed on Orange Lake in 1989.

Don Wilson can be reached dwilson@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5397.
 

MQ

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Holy guacamole! I'd like to see "Crocodile Hunter" take that one on.....
 

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