Around 8 p.m. on the opening night of South Carolina’s alligator hunting season, Kim Bolen Lawhon helped launch a 17-foot johnboat from Blount’s Landing near Eutawville. Joined by her husband and two friends, they searched around the Sixteen Island region of Lake Marion, looking for a gator that measured seven feet or longer.
After an hour of cruising and searching with spotlights, they finally glimpsed a likely target. They headed straight for it but the gator quickly went under. One of the hunters cast a line anyway and hooked the gator with a heavy fishing rod.
“None of us really knew what size [gator] we had hooked, even after fighting it for the first 10 minutes,” Lawhon, a mother of two boys, told Carolina Sportsman. “It would suddenly come up to the surface, just barely giving us a glimpse, and then back down he’d go to roll.”
The four hunters soon got another big treble hook in the gator—this one rigged to a thick rope. The gator fought hard for the next three hours and they couldn’t see what they were up against until they finally got it close to the boat.
“That’s when we all saw that he was what we call ‘a grown man,’” Lawhon said. “That’s when we realized just how big this monster really was.”
A series of videos posted to Lawhon’s Facebook page show the chaos that ensued when they finished off the huge alligator. Using a semi-auto handgun, Lawhon shoots at the gator three times and hits it in the head at least twice. (South Carolina regulations allow hunters to dispatch alligators with handguns or bangsticks, but not rifles.)
With the alligator dead in the water, the trio tried but failed to haul it over the gunnels of the johnboat. So, they tagged it and secured it with rope, and then motored back to the boat ramp where 10 or more people were already waiting to help.
They took the huge gator to Palmetto Processing. It weighed around 700 pounds and measured 12 feet, 2 inches long. In a photo of Lawhon taken at the processor, she’s wearing a t-shirt that reads: Hunting Mom. Like a Normal Mom But Cooler.
“Shirt says it all,” Lawhon wrote in a Facebook post. “Wish my boys were a part of this special moment but next tag we all in the boat!”