Two local hunters in Florida have become popular seemingly overnight after photographs of them together with the carcass of a massive alligator they killed went viral online.
Okeechobee natives Lee Lightsey and Blake Godwin were on a guided hunt when they came across the remains of cattle in one of their ponds. They soon discovered a giant alligator lurking in the area, leading them to believe that it could be the one responsible for killing the livestock.
Godwin said Lightsey shot the alligator as it was beginning to come out of the water about 20 feet from where they were at the time. He added that the gator was so large and heavy they had to use a farm tractor just to pull it out of the pond.
The pair took photographs of the massive alligator and posted them on the Facebook page of Lightsey's hunting store Outwest Farms. One of the photos shows Lightsey's 9-year-old son, Mason, posing next to the dead gator, which emphasizes just how big the animal is compared to humans.
Despite insisting that the photograph is not a hoax, Godwin said many people still don't believe the massive alligator they killed was real.
"There's a lot of folks saying that, but it's 100% real," Godwin said. "I took that picture, the photo is real."
Lightsey said that the gator weighed in at about 780 pounds and measured about 15 feet long.
These measurements are consistent with those of American alligators that are endemic in the ponds, rivers and marshes of Florida. These animals are known to grow to an average length of 10 to 15 feet.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee said the largest alligator ever to be caught in the state came from Lake Washington and it measured at about 14 feet and 3.5 inches.
While this particular alligator weighed in at about 654 pounds, it is not considered to be the heaviest one. That record was given to another gator that weighed in at 1,043 pounds.
Outwest Farms has been in business for close to 20 years, conducting guided hunts for turkey, wild boar and alligators in the region. Signing up for a guided hunt for a 13-foot alligator costs $10,000.