Summerville grandmother bags massive alligator in hunt on Cooper River

(Provided/Deborah Swails)

COOPER RIVER, S.C. (WCIV) - It was a rather quiet night for the Swails family, as they took a trip on a dark Friday night to hunt alligators in the Cooper River.

The youngest, Jackson, was quickly becoming bored.

“I completely regretted going gator hunting. I was like, 'This was a waste of time,'” Jackson said.

His opinion of the night quickly changed, however, when they reeled in a 12-foot gator from the murky waters.

Deborah Swails, who actually caught the alligator said, “We didn't know how big it was until 45 minutes later.”

It was the first year Deborah has hunted since South Carolina's Department of Natural Resources began allowing alligator hunting in 2008.

Deborah, two of her grandchildren, and her son, Joe, had been out alligator hunting for three straight nights.

Just when she had given up hope of catching a gator this season, she caught one far bigger than she ever expected.

“When the head came up on the left side of the boat,” she said, “It was like 'Ahhh, this is huge!'”

Just as quickly as they saw the gator, it vanished beneath the boat.

“We hear this "uh" underneath the boat, and the alligator hit the underside of the boat,” Deborah says.

It would take three rods and the entire family just to get the gator under control.

A short time later, the alligator's massive tail appeared. The Swails family struggled to get it close enough to the boat to put an end to the fight.

With the alligator dead, the next battle was getting it in the boat.

At 3 a.m., Deborah says they called in her other son for help.

Out came a 12-foot, 1-inch alligator, only a few feet shorter than the 17-foot boat they were on.

Joe Swails says it was just like a scene from their favorite show, Swamp People.

“I was waiting for someone to yell 'shoot 'em, shoot 'em' like they do on Swamp People, but we were all so excited we forgot to say it.” Joe added.

The gator has since been processed. They'll be able to eat the meat, and though she's not one to boast, Deborah says she plans to have its head taxidermied.

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