You can learn a lot about an animal from what it eats. Usually, that means poking a pile of scat with a stick. But for one South Carolina alligator hunter, the stuff that didn’t pass through a 12-foot gator was much more interesting.
Ned McNeely brought the 445-pound gator to Kenneth Cordray’s butcher shop in Ravenel, South Carolina, after taking it on his property in Adam’s Run in April 2021, WCSC reported. (Killing nuisance gators on private property is legal year-round in South Carolina.) McNeely reportedly asked Cordray about looking through the gator’s stomach contents. Cordray eventually obliged, and the results were gobsmacking.
The investigation yielded five hunting dog collar tags, multiple bobcat claws and turtle shells, a bullet casing, and a spark plug, Cordray wrote in a Facebook post. (No, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke.)
One of the dog tags still had a legible phone number printed on it, so Cordray gave it a call. An older man answered the phone.
“He said that he had a lease down on the other side of the river from where the gator was killed, 24 years ago,” Cordray told WCSC. “And they always figured [that] the dogs got eaten by the gators.”
Cordray referred to the dogs as “hunting dogs” throughout the report and “deer dogs” in the Facebook post. He estimated they weighed around 80 pounds. If the dogs’ owner correctly recalled when he had that lease, that meant the gator was well over 25 years old.
“I had to shoot it a couple of times, and I had to get a bunch of ropes and hooks and kayaks and a tractor with a chain to finally get it out of the canal,” McNeely said.
The Facebook post is resurfacing on social media even though the hunt happened two years ago. Plenty of online commenters have weighed in. One commenter wrote that the South Carolina gator could help with Florida’s python problem, while another mentioned how it belongs in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Yet another commenter left a particularly optimistic quip: “Glad they didn’t find any wedding bands!”