It took Kevin Long almost until the end of South Carolina’s alligator season to fill his tag, but the wait was worth it – even if he had to “settle” for a gator that wasn’t as big as one he had chased. On Sept. 30, Long and hunting buddies Rob Hardin and John Cowart spent the better part of the afternoon motoring around Lake Moultrie before scoring on a 12-foot-2-inch, 600-pound gator near the Angel’s Landing area.

“John was on a trip earlier in the season and got a big one, so I convince him to put me on one,” said Long, who hails from West Ashley. “That last day was the fifth day I’d been out there trying. I’d seen some big ones but I was never able to catch up with one.”

Hunting in the afternoon, Long, Mount Pleasant’s Hardin and Monck’s Corner’s Cowart had several gators play hide-and-seek with them.

“We were looking at what we thought was a big gator, and we followed him around for while, but he went down,” Long said. “These big, old gators don’t live 50 years by being stupid.

“We went to a spot where we’d seen one earlier in the day, and we threw out a marker. We checked a couple more spots, then came back and the alligator was almost right where we’d marked it before. We figured he had just stayed on the bottom and waited for us to leave.”

The gator sank back below the surface as Long and crew approached, but they had a good enough bead on him to cast a weighted treble hook and snag the animal, starting a battle that lasted 1 1/2 hours.

They got a second treble in the gator moments before the first one came loose, and finally, Hardin – Long referred to him as “Rambo Rob” – pitched a big treble on a hand line over the gator and snagged him.

It wasn’t too much longer before they brought the gator boatside, and then Long shot him in the head with a .357.

“There was no way we could get him in the boat, he was so big,” Long said. “He was a lot bigger than we initially thought. We had to tie him to the side of the boat, and we went back to the landing with the boat tipping way over to that side.”

At the ramp, they almost had to sink the pickup truck that was their tow vehicle to be able to float the gator into the truck bed.

The gator drew a crowd at a gas station in Summerville where they stopped to fill up. When they finally got him to Cordray’s processing in Ravenel, it took a fork lift to get the gator out of the truck.

“There are some really big gators out there,” Long said. “We said we ‘settled’ on this one.

“We were chasing one that was probably 13 feet.”

See other gators caught this year!