Man in McCamey Leads Hunt for Beastly Gator, In Record Books Years Later

Man in McCamey Leads Hunt for Beastly Gator, In Record Books Years Later

Anum Valliani

NewsWest 9

TRINITY, TX-West Texans sure know a thing or two about hunting deer. But a man in McCamey has set the bar high with hunting reptiles.  He helped catch a mammoth gator nearly 7 years ago. Now it has finally been recognized as the biggest in the state.

In September of 2007 Ryan Haltom and three friends went gator hunting on Gospel Ranch right outside of Trinity, Texas. It was a place where they had spotted gators before, but nothing like the one that would become their pride and glory.

"We knew that if we caught this specific gator that we were after that it would be in the record books. We didn't know where, if it would be number one, or number five, where, but we knew it'd be in there," Haltom said.

The beastly gator came in at 14 ft. 8 in. and weighed a whopping 880 lbs. Haltom said a neighboring rancher had first spotted the jumbo reptile, and tipped them off.

"I believed him. He's not one of these guys to exaggerate at all. So I said we gotta get out there," Haltom described.

And bright-eyed, the men, including Justin Wells of Lufkin, Tom Bass of Dallas, Jarrett Hanus of Spring and Haltom, made it out to the river.  

Haltom remembered seeing gators swimming around and even catching glimpse of the huge gator paddling across the water. So they went in and started setting the baits.

By the next day, the gator had been hooked, sending high fives all around. "We saw it in the water and the line was like tighter than a wench cable on something heavy. We were pretty stoked," Haltom said.

But the job wasn't done.

"When we caught him, he ended up tangling up under water and so we rock paper scissored who got to go in and untangle him," he said.

Luckily the gator had died out before they had to get in. When they did, Haltom remembers pulling out its colossal leg, thinking, "Good God, this thing is huge!"

Afterwards they had to get some help hauling the reptile out with some rope and some variation of a fork lift.

The catch has been recognized as the all time Safari Club International world record since 2008, but because of some inconsistency with measuring standards, it only just made the state record books in Texas.

Haltom hopes that as a result of the big catch, the Texas Parks and Wildlife will have a certified measuring and record keeping program for alligators, similar to ones for other big game native to the state.

And in the meantime, it's likely that you'll find him out hunting, always looking for his next big catch.