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Florida Nurse Nabs New State-Record Alligator: 14 Feet, 3 Inches Long And 654 Pounds

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- Robert "Tres" Ammerman has been hunting alligators in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) annual statewide alligator harvest for the past seven years. But it wasn't until the last day of this year's season that the Pine Hills resident hit the jackpot and took what he would later learn is the state's longest documented alligator, breaking a 13-year record.

"That was the second luckiest day of my life; the first was when I married my wife, Janette," said Ammerman, a licensed practical nurse at Florida Living Nursing Center in Apopka.

The official measurements put Ammerman's gator at 14 feet, 3 inches long and 654 pounds. The previous record for length was held by a 14-foot, 5/8-inch alligator taken from Lake Monroe in 1997 by a nuisance-alligator trapper. The heaviest alligator on record weighed 1,043 pounds and was taken from Orange Lake in 1989. It was also taken as a nuisance gator.

This record gator, however, was taken by a hunter drawn for the FWC's Statewide Alligator Harvest Program.

"It took 13 years to break the previous record, but I'm sure there's an alligator out there that will break this one," said Steve Stiegler of the FWC's alligator management program. "When and where it will happen is the only question."

Stiegler said the FWC will be sending Ammerman a letter certifying his record alligator.

Ammerman and his two hunting partners - Sam White, his neighbor, and T.J. Schauf, his nephew, just back from fighting the war in Afghanistan - took the gator just after midnight on Nov. 1 from the Lake Washington area of the St. Johns River in Brevard County.

The trio headed out late Halloween night in Ammerman's 14-foot johnboat equipped with an 8-horsepower motor. They weren't out long before he spotted the large alligator, although at the time it was hard for him to know just how large it was.

"We slid up on him face-on - it's real hard to tell their size from that angle. As we got to within about 3 feet of him I could tell he was big, and just as he dipped into the water, I threw my harpoon and hit him where the neck and head come together," Ammerman said.

The gator took off, but attached to the harpoon was a float and about 50 feet of line. That's when Ammerman, White and Schauf got the ride of their lives.

"The line was spinning off my buoy," he said. "He pulled us around the lake for about 45 minutes before we tried to work him up to the side of the boat."

Ammerman lost a large alligator earlier this season in the same lake when he and his buddies tried to bring the gator in before it was tired out from pulling them and the boat around the lake.

"We didn't want to make that mistake again," he said.

Despite pulling the boat for 45 minutes, the alligator still had plenty of fight when the men finally brought it to the boat.

"He death-rolled and knocked my boat around; it got pretty exciting," he said.

But finally they subdued the big gator, towed it to shore, and entered the record books.

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

10 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

what was the reason for killing this animal?
   comment# 1   - rhino · earth · Nov 9, 2010 @ 9:42am

Yeah, way to kill a hugely important apex predator instead of some stupid and heavily common herbivore.
   comment# 2   - charles222 · Iraq · Nov 11, 2010 @ 7:27am

What was the point of this? So they bring and alligator to shore and kill it just to win the new record!!! Disgusting!
   comment# 4   - Cat · UK · Nov 12, 2010 @ 7:38am

Some basic understanding of wildlife biology appears to be lacking in favor of emotional responses. Florida has 1 to 1.5 million gators and Louisiana has 1.5 to 2 million. Probably another million scattered in the remaining southern states from North Carolina to Texas. Arkansas is restocking and they have migrated to old habitat in southeast Oklahoma. Old gators do die, and they do kill eat younger ones. Culling some in a well regulated hunt will not injure the species or the environment.
   comment# 4   - Mike · Saline, USA · Nov 15, 2010 @ 10:44am

Instead of flaming this why don't u get some education on the subject. Mike is correct, to answer the questions though this animal was killed on a state wide harvest. The harvest lasts about a month and is in the mating season. The reason for the statewide hunts is to control the population of alligators. The reason the population needs to be controlled is b/c their becoming a nuisance to our locals. They have even been found in neighborhood swimming pools. If we don't control the population they will go where ever they want and will prey on humans at local lakes and swimming areas. This is the reason for the statewide hunt. But all u had to do was click the link in the very beginning and u would have known this instead of posting ur flamed opinions...... Ignorance is bliss I guess ?
   comment# 5   - Jason · Orlando FL US · Nov 26, 2010 @ 3:33pm

Judging by your grammar Jason, ignorance is bliss indeed! Very few gators of this size exist in the wild today, I don't think people would have as big of an issue if these animals were culled, but to be killing the biggest and most genetically gifted just for sake of killing, is a pretty barbaric and out-dated practice! Think about it from a human perspective, if we had to cull the human population, we would start with the uneducated and sick first, not the biggest, smartest and genetically gifted. In other words you would be on the short list if human culling existed!
   comment# 6   - Brendan Maas · Philadelphia, PA · Nov 27, 2010 @ 3:15pm

As a particpant in numerous hunts and having brought in gators in the high 13 foot range, I must say that afterwards I did feel somewhat remorseful. Animals in the this range can similiarly be compared to a 21-22 pound bass. I am also an avid fisherman and have been on numerous night fishing ventures (Always looking for the big one!!!) and have been privy to witness the high numbers of gators within the State of Florida. Believe me, there is no threat of eradicating the "biggest, smartest, and genetically gifted" of this species. The biggest, smartest, 15-16 foot gator is still out there, and one day, hopefully soon, either myself or Mr. Yates will run into her and secure the record for some time to come!!! HEF
   comment# 7   - HEFFINGER · ORLANDO US · Dec 27, 2010 @ 8:24pm

   comment# 8   - JHON · SARASOTA · Apr 9, 2011 @ 4:23pm

c'mon people, now you're saying he did it for a record? There are millions of these critters swimming around down here. My bro & I had one come up to our boat in a narrow space between islands that looked like he was the size of a whiskey barrel in the middle, and as long as our 16' boat or longer. Bro pulled out a .380 from his tacklebox and I said "You shoot that s.o.b w/ that pop gun and if he doesn't kill u I will!" He was so big that byllet wouldn't have done anything but yellow water him off, amd there was nowhere for him to go but thru our boat. :) we left him alone
   comment# 9   - · mobile. usa · Jul 21, 2011 @ 11:05pm

Get-R-Done, people don't understand all a alligator does is sleep and kill. As the gator get's bigger their get's bigger. I'm sure humans were on this big boy. Im coming for your record brother. Good Job.
   comment# 10   - firewalkerb3 · sumter · May 17, 2012 @ 10:39pm
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