Friday, September 20, 2013
By Chris Sokoloski
Catching a 10-foot-3-inch-long, 300-pound alligator: thrilling.
Catching a 10-foot-3-inch-long, 300-pound alligator with your son and son-in-law: priceless.
“It was a remarkable catch for us,” said Bill Blackston of Lexington. “Doing it with our family members made it more special.”
Blackston, the retired director of the Clemson Extension Service in Lexington, traveled to Georgetown County for opening day of alligator season on Saturday with his son, Clayton, and son-in-law, Allan Goff.
When the trio set out on the North Santee River in a 17-foot boat, they had no idea they were embarking on a 12-hour adventure.
The first alligator they caught was a 6-footer. A fine catch, but smaller than a 7-footer they caught and lost two years ago. So they let that one go.
Then they caught a 5-and-a-half footer and turned it loose.
“We set the bar pretty high for ourselves,” Blackston said. “We didn’t want an average one.”
As the hours went by, the men began to regret letting the 6-footer go.
Several times they spotted an 8-footer, but it eluded them.
“He put it on us bad,” Blackston said. “He messed with us.”
They finally spotted the 10-foot-3-inch-long alligator and the fight was on.
They put two hooks in its tail and Blackston and his son struggled with it for about an hour.
“It was unbelievable the power of that gator,” Blackston said.
After a while they could tell the gator was tiring and not digging in the pluff mud. They put a third hook in its neck as the line on one of the other two hooks broke, so they put a harpoon in it.
The alligator fought back, doing death rolls, knocking into the side of the boat and snapping at them.
Three .45 caliber bullets to the head ended the 90-minute battle.
Blackston said their experience in not landing the 7-footer two years ago, and a Department of Natural Resources alligator hunting class they took, gave them the knowledge they needed to land their prey early Sunday morning.
He plans to have the head and feet mounted and harvested and froze about 40 pounds of meat. The next step is to find recipes for the meat.
Clayton Blackston has now crossed “catching a large alligator” off his bucket list.
Bill Blackston, who lost his dad when he was 19, is thrilled to help his son achieve that.
“I wanted it for him and I wanted to be part of it.”
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