COLUMBIA, S.C. — A 625-pound alligator was among several large gators caught over the weekend to kick off the start of alligator hunting season.
DNR says this hunting season has grown significantly in popularity. Jay Butfiloski explained that it has been one of the most high-interest lotteries they have ever seen.
"Normally what happens is, we have a lottery system, and people put into the lottery hoping to get drawn. This year, we had 9,100 people apply and we normally give out 1,000 tags and permits," Butfiloski stated.
Cordray's, a taxidermy and processing service in the Lowcountry says they saw more alligators than they expected for opening weekend.
"We had 25 in the first 2 days... we normally get 100 to 125 for the entire season and to get a quarter of that already is pretty significant," said processor, Kenneth Cordray.
One of the alligators they took to harvest over the weekend was the one weighing 625 pounds and measuring 13 feet long, from Lake Marion.
"I thought I heard there was a gator coming, and then he backed up with it and I thought 'Woah, now that's a real gator'," Cordray said.
Another one of the larger gators caught over the weekend was an 11-foot, 300-pound alligator that was wrangled in by Ryan Snell and his friends Travis Bee, Buddy Dane, Ronnie Provost, and Tighe Miller.
"Everyone was asking me, what size gator do you want? I told them, I just want something that's taggable, that's worth the effort, worth the tag. 11 foot and 1.5 is definitely worth it," Snell said.
Snell says this was his first time hunting for alligators, after putting his name into the lottery for years.
"It took me five years to finally get picked but I'm glad I did, it was a lot of fun," he stated.
SCDNR as well as Cordray's are expecting an active rest of the season, with the last day to hunt on October 8.