When Lacy Blankenship and his sons Cory and Lacy Jr. made the 11-hour drive from Ohio to Lake Moultrie to hunt alligators, they had no idea they were embarking on the outdoor adventure of a lifetime. The Blankenships, guided by Blacks Camp’s Kevin Davis, took two alligators the first two days of the season. And one was a whopping 11-footer that weighed in at 475 pounds.

The second was a respectable 8½-footer.

However, it wasn’t just the size of the bigger alligator that was at the core of this adventure: It was the unyielding sprit and aggressive nature of one tough Lake Moultrie alligator.

“That alligator fought harder, much harder, than the 13 1/2-footer that weighed 1,025 pounds that we got last year,” said Davis (843.753.2231). “It took us two hours of hard, frenzied work once we finally hooked up for good with the big gator to get him alongside the boat.”

Blankenship, 60, is a retired school teacher from Prospect, Ohio. Cory, 28, and 40-year-old Lacy Jr. participated in a team effort in what Davis described as herculean effort to get the beast subdued.

Blankenship was not timid about how he felt about the adventure. He said he has taken black bear, moose and caribou with a bow, a 7x6 elk as well, but no experience has rivaled this alligator hunt.

“It was the most exciting, stirring, intense thing I’ve ever done in the outdoors,” he said. “And it affected my sons the same way. Lacy Jr. has long enjoyed the outdoors, but Cory doesn’t hunt and fish as much. But he was probably the most enthusiastic of all of us during this adventure.

“It was literally the adventure of our lives, and to share it with my sons and with a guide like Kevin Davis just makes it a perfect trip. Hunting alligators in South Carolina needs to be on every outdoorsman’s ‘to do’ or bucket list.”

Davis said the beginning of the Sept. 10 opening-day trip was almost too easy.

“We saw the big alligator, and since we’ve started hunting them, they usually are very spooky and hard to approach,” Davis said. “But we were able to slip up close on this one the first time and get a snatch hook into him — but he broke free after a few seconds. Then we waited nearly an hour before we saw him again.

“Finally we got three rods and reels with snatch hooks into him, but we couldn’t get the gator to the boat he fought so hard. It wasn’t until we got the harpoon into him with a heavy rope that we were able to pull him close to the boat.”

Blankenship said that’s when the real intensity began.

“That huge alligator finally took the initiative, turned towards us and charged,” he said. “The alligator literally chomped the side of the boat before we subdued him

“It doesn’t get much more intense than that – a huge alligator fighting back and attacking the boat. When it was finally over, we were all exhausted, but never happier.”