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Nurse makes record-breaking alligator catch

5:44 PM, Nov 8, 2010   |    comments
photo courtesy FWC
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Tallahassee, Florida -- Robert Ammerman calls it the second luckiest day of his life - just behind marrying his wife.

He captured the longest alligator ever documented in Florida last week.

Click here for a full-size picture of the gator.
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Alligators wrangled, hunted around Florida

Ammerman caught a 14-foot, 3 1/2 inch long gator weighing 654 pounds in the Lake Washington area of the St. Johns River on November 1st. The alligator is about three inches longer than the previous record set in 1997.

Ammerman was hunting with two friends in his 14-foot boat on Halloween night when they came upon the giant gator just after midnight.  It took the men 45 minutes to reel it in.

Florida's alligator management expert Steve Stiegler says he's surprised the hunters got the big gator on the last night of the hunt because the animals usually become more skittish toward the end of the hunting season. 

"This particular alligator was certainly very long-lived, probably more than 50 years old and so it had been subjected to this alligator hunt for more than 20 years.  So certainly he was very adept at avoiding capture."

Stiegler keeps an alligator skull for educational purposes and he pulls it out to demonstrate the size of the new record gator.

Stiegler's alligator skull came from an animal that was 13 feet long.  It's larger than a bread box.

"This skull is 18 inches in length and the skull of the record alligator, which is 14 feet 3 ½ inches long, the skull of that alligator is actually five-and-a-half inches longer than this.  So you could imagine - this is a very large, heavy skull - imagine something about 15 - 20 percent larger and that's what you have with that record alligator."  

Ammerman had a permit to hunt alligators through Florida's annual Alligator Harvest program.

The record for the heaviest alligator remains intact.  That record belongs to a gator captured in Orange Lake in 1989 that weighed 1,043 pounds.

Ammerman has been hunting alligators for the past seven years. When he's not hunting gators, he works as a licensed practical nurse at Florida Living Nursing Center in Apopka.

Dave Heller, 10 News

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