Some call them living dinosaurs. And an 18-year-old high school senior near Houston got an up-close look at why after he bagged the largest alligator every taken in the state during a recent hunt.
Braxton Bielski caught the 14' 3", 800-lb monster at a wildlife management area.
"He’s wanted to hunt alligators for years," Braxton's dad Troy, a Houston police officer, told KHOU-TV. "We got selected one year to go on a youth hunt at the J.D. Murphree WMA, but I didn’t get the permit in on time. I remember Brax was very disappointed. This is the first year we’ve had to enter him as an adult and we got drawn."
In Texas, residents have to apply for a permit to hunt alligators and are selected at random.
The father and son duo described how they caught the beast, which includes using a line and hook to initially capture the animal before using a gun:
"We went through a two-hour orientation and it was very thorough," Braxton recalled. "My dad did a lot of research online about alligator hunting and we asked a lot of questions."
Troy said he knew some about the area they would be hunting, having done some bass fishing on Choke Canyon years ago, but with current low water levels, the landscape was completely different from what he remembered.
"We spent a lot of time scouting some of the pastures in the compartment we were assigned, looking for likely spots to set our lines," said Troy.
At one point, the pair observed what they believed to be a large gator in a cove and decided to place their baited lines nearby.
"We didn’t pressure it, but while we were putting up our cane poles we could see it watching us 30 yards away," said Braxton.
Braxton chose one of the lines as his set; the other would be his dad’s. When the two hunters returned the next morning, they realized they had their work cut out as both lines were down indicating they had two alligators hooked. A hook and line set baited with raw meat is used to catch the alligator; only after it has been hooked can a gator be dispatched at close range with a firearm.
Troy also bagged a beast: a 10' 5" female.
"If we had just caught the one, I would have been happy for Brax," Troy told KHOU. "He’s the reason I was there."