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A group of Alabama hunters is celebrating the catch of a lifetime, a 15-foot-long alligator that weighed more than 1,000 pounds.
Jeff Dute of AL.com reports the monster gator was pulled from the water in south Alabama early Saturday during the state's alligator hunting season.
The gator is the largest ever legally killed by an Alabama hunter and was caught by Mandy and John Stokes; Kevin Jenkins and his children, 16-year-old Savannah and 14-year-old Parker.
Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Biologists had no trouble measuring the beast at 15 feet even, but they had to call for some relief when trying to weigh it. The first attempt destroyed the winch assembly used to hoist most gators. Enlisting a backhoe to lift it, a biologist officially called the weight at 1,011.5 pounds.
Those dimensions easily make the Stokes gator the biggest ever killed in Alabama. An internet search suggests the Stokes gator may be the largest American alligator ever legally killed by a hunter.
In June, Safari Club International declared a 14-foot, 8-inch, 880-pound alligator killed in Chalk Creek near Lufkin, Texas by Justin Wells of Bossier City, La., in 2007 as the world record.
It's not clear which metric - length, weight or a combination of both - SCI used to make its declaration.
A September 2013 story on Outdoor Life's website tells the tale of a 13-foot, 9-inch, 1,100-pound gator killed by Drew Baker in Arkansas. Baker's gator is the Arkansas record, but the story makes no mention of it being in contention for world record status.
Stokes' gator measured 70.5 inches around the stomach, 46 inches around the base of the tail and had a 16-inch snout measurement.
Mandy Stokes' crew, including the teens, is made up of experienced woodsmen and women who regularly hunt the rural landscape near their home and fish the Alabama River often. It was during the trip back to the boat launch that the gator's size started sinking in.
"The whole time we were out there, we thought we were in a 16-foot boat. So doing some comparison to the size of the boat, we figured the gator might be 13 feet," John Stokes said. "Then Kevin found out it was a 17-foot boat, and we started looking at that gator again."
They enlisted help to load the gator on a trailer so it could be transported to the Roland Cooper State Park check station.
Mandy Stokes said the gator is scheduled to be transported to a taxidermy shop. But the Stokes are still weighing their options about what to do with it.
Critical thinking challenge: Why was it easier to measure the length than the weight?