DALLAS, TX -- Talk about your River Monsters! Dallas attorney Levi McCathern killed one last week in Leon County, Texas. At 880 pounds on certified scales, McCathern’s prize alligator would rank among the top five or six biggest Texas gators reported since modern alligator hunting seasons began in 1984.McCathern was with hunting and fishing outfitter Steve Barclay on private property adjacent to the Trinity River. They were after a specific animal that the guide has been hunting for at least three years. "We’d see this big alligator in the same general area before the hunting season began," Barclay said, "but we could never find him when we had a client during the season."
That changed during a spot-and-stalk hunt when McCathern made a perfect rifle shot on the animal at about 100 yards. At that distance, executing a shot on a reptilian brain about the size of a golf ball is no mean feat. The shot was a good one, but the gator rolled off the bank and disappeared into deep water.
McCathern could not wait around for the recovery. His 14-year-old son, Noah, who had already bagged a 9-foot gator, had to return home for a youth trip, and McCathern had to attend his wife’s birthday party. There’s no photo of him with the huge alligator.
The recovery was nothing but hard work, anyway, Barclay said. He and his deckhand, Ryan Burton, first had to locate the sunken reptile, which was beneath the bank where it had rolled into the water. Then they spent two hours using a 4,000-pound winch to put the alligator in the airboat.
"We almost pulled down a big willow tree in the process," said Barclay. "The place where I launch my airboat is just a sandy lane, and I was afraid that my truck wouldn’t pull the airboat and the gator both out of the water."
Barclay decided that the best bet was to winch the alligator up the hill and into the back of his truck. With the huge animal’s head resting on the truck cab and its tail dangling off the tailgate, he then drove to Crockett and parked on the town square.
"We shut Crockett down for a while," Barclay said. Even in East Texas a dinosaur-sized reptile loaded in the bed of a pickup truck is a rare sight.