A wife and mother of three is the big winner so far this season in South Carolina’s annual alligator hunt.
Laura Robinson Griffin of Belton, S.C., bagged a “swamp lizard” that was 12-foot-7, which is almost triple her height. She’s 4-foot-10.
What’s more surprising, however, is that 37-year-old Griffin was a first-time alligator hunter.
“I keep getting asked, ‘Was I scared?’ No, I wasn’t scared. I was intimidated,” said Griffin, who works for the Anderson County Election Commission.
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“We were in a 16-foot boat and when it came up, I saw the alligator was almost as long as the boat. I didn’t shoot it just once. I shot it three times. If that thing was coming into the boat with us, I was going to make sure it was dead.”
People also keep asking her what one does with 12-foot-7 dead alligator.
“We’re going to eat it. And the meat will last us a year. We don’t kill for sport. We harvest the meat.”
Belton is 125 miles south of Charlotte, in Anderson County. However, the hunt was in a cove of Lake Moultrie, north of Charleston on Sept. 9. Griffin was with a group of 10 other hunters, that included her husband, Darrell, who is a seasoned alligator hunter.
Two other alligators were bagged by the group that day, both smaller than hers.
Griffin says she stalked the alligator for nearly two hours in a swampy cove. She hooked it once, then it rolled and and got away, only to resurface an hour later. In the time between, the group of hunters sat silently in their boats, hoping not to scare it away, she said.
“We got three hooks in him this time, and by the time we got him to the surface, he was exhausted,” she said. “I shot him three times with my .38 special.”
Griffin said the meat is so plentiful that the family has it spread out in freezers at two homes. She’s making a lot of alligator bites (cubed) and will soon be grilling alligator fillets.
No boots or purses, however.
“It’s crazy expensive to have their hide done,” she said. “But I would love some boots.”
Griffin is an avid deer and turkey hunter, too. She said her husband was proud of her first-time gator kill. So were her kids, who are ages 10, 8 and 2.
“Yes, I’ll be going back out next year,” she says. “Next to having my three precious kids and marrying my best friend, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”
South Carolina estimates more than 100,000 alligators live from the Midlands to the coast. The state’s “Alligator Lottery” hunting season started Sept. 9 and alligators can only be taken from public waters, not wildlife management areas or refuges. Hunters can keep the meat, but can’t sell it.
Last year, hunters took 394 alligators during the season. The record last year was a 13-foot-5 inches alligator in the Pee Dee area.