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Stokes recalls record-breaking adventure

As the registration time to purchase an alligator hunting tag is open until July 10, a Thomaston woman, Mandy Stokes, who made history with her catch of the world record alligator in 2014, is looking back on her own amazing adventure.

Her record-setting alligator, 15 feet and 9 inches long and 1,011.5 pounds, was caught Aug. 14, 2014, on the Alabama River on the her very first alligator hunt.

She went out on the river, with her husband John and brother-in-law Kevin Jenkins, on a Thursday night. Although the three didn’t see anything that night, they decided to go out one more time Friday. At the start of what would become a memorable night, they saw several alligators and tried to hook them with no luck.

The next went into Mill Creek. The original plan was to go up the creek, turn off their boat lights and take a nap, Stokes said.  

However, just 45 minutes later, Stokes’ spotlight on the river revealed some eyes. At 10: 45, the battle with the biggest gator on record began when they hooked it. After a five-hour struggle, they were finally able to capture the massive creature and secure it to the boat, Stokes recalled. The first bullet she fired bounced off the gator into the water.

The angry alligator then towed their small boat across the water. The three decided to give it one more attempt, still not realizing how huge the alligator was. Stokes next shot ended the battle.

The problem then, Stokes recalled, was trying to get him tied to the side of the boat and make it back down the river. They arrived back at Shell Creek at 6:30 a.m., still not realizing they had just captured the World Record Alligator.

Stokes' alligator is 15 feet, 9 inches and 1,011.5 pounds.

The alligator hunt started when Stokes received her required tag in 2014. She said that her best advice for a new alligator hunter would be to be ready to hunt for up to six nights.

Anyone interested in an alligator hunt must register for a tag with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Hunters are randomly selected to receive a tag, with chances of getting one increasing the more years you apply. This year, 260 alligator tags will be distributed.