Family catches gator between 300 and 500 pounds in the Chattahoochee River

Updated: Sep. 18, 2019 at 6:31 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - When you think about the Chattahoochee River, most people don’t think of alligators. But one local family said they do, and this weekend, they made a big catch.

Running water in the Chattahoochee River draws creatures like it does people. You can see birds and ducks, but it’s not often you see gators. But for some, catching alligators is the goal.

The family said it was between 300 and 500 pounds, 11.5 feet long. We’re only one month into alligator hunting season and officials said this gator isn’t much from the record-breaking 13-footer.

“So, it’s a tradition," said Joel Harper. "Every year, we put in for a tag through the DNR system.”

Harper and his family were awarded a tag to hunt alligators, and this weekend, they came home with an 11.5-foot-long reptile.

“Oh okay so that could eat a person," Malerie Goodman said. "I’m not going to be going into the river anytime soon.”

“Oh my lord," Shannon Williams said. "Alright, well I won’t be swimming between here and Fort Benning.”

Harper said alligator hunting is a family tradition. The alligator was caught near the RiverWalk around 4 a.m.

“You think man, that’s awesome, great hunt, and you’re done. But you have to get the gator in the boat. It took us another hour to get the gator in the boat and that’s when we realized, holy crap, this thing is massive,” Harper said.

Officials from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said it isn’t rare to see gators in Muscogee and Harris counties.

“You’re probably going to see the smaller gators," said Game Warden Ethan Franklin. "Most people don’t see the big ones. But the big ones do get seen. It’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time in terms of seeing one.”

“I’ve seen them down around the other end down there near Bibb City, smaller stuff. Nothing like that. That was a pretty big one.” Williams said."

For the Harper family, plans for this gator include a head mount, tanned skin, and dinner.

“Gator meat’s delicious,” Harper added.

Alligator hunting season runs from sunset on August 16 through sunrise on October 7, according to Franklin. The application period ran from June 1 to July 15. For more information visit

Family catches 500-pound gator in the Chattahoochee River near the RiverWalk
Family catches 500-pound gator in the Chattahoochee River near the RiverWalk((Source: Joel Harper))

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