SAMSON, Ala (WDHN) — On Saturday night, three Wiregrass men journeyed onto the Pea River in Samson and hooked the catch of a lifetime.

This was the first year Joshua Chambless of Kinston, Kyle Kennington of Enterprise, and Dustin Wise of Samson went hunting for alligators, and boy, was it a good start for the men. The three amateur alligator catchers launched their boat into the river around 8 p.m. After two hours on the water, the hunters found their mark: a 12’5 alligator weighing in at approximately 474 pounds.

Chambless said it took 15 minutes to get two large treble hooks into the monster, with the first hook not phasing the alligator much but going crazy when the second hook went in. The creature began charging and hitting the side of the boat, soaking the men. Then it dragged the 18-foot boat down and across the river before diving into a 10-foot underwater hole, where it sat for nearly an hour and a half.

When the alligator returned to the surface around midnight, the men took their chance and were able to quickly snag it.

“He looked like a submarine coming up,” Chambless says, “and when I pulled the trigger, he turned into dead weight.”

After 20 minutes of fighting the current, the three men got the behemoth into the boat.

When asked how he felt after the experience, Chambless laughed and said he and his friends were blessed to catch an alligator this big, especially with it being the first time they ever hooked one.

“We started at the top, and we will never get a gator bigger than that,” Chambless said while chuckling, ” I don’t know if we’ll pick a fight with one so big next time.”

Chambless said that when he spoke to a Wildlife Biologist to receive a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species tag, the biologist said the alligator was the longest from the southeast zone this season.

After bagging the large alligator, the men stayed awake for nearly 36 hours, making sure the meat and hide did not spoil before they could claim their prizes. Chambless says none of the meat will go to waste, and they are having the hide tanned and the head mounted.