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article imagePhotos: Braxton Bielski, 18, bags biggest alligator ever in Texas

By JohnThomas Didymus     May 16, 2013 in Environment
Houston - An 18-year-old high school senior, Braxton Bielski, recently caught the biggest ever certified alligator in the state of Texas. The Texas teen caught the alligator during his first public alligator hunt with his dad, Troy, a Houston police officer.
Bielski, a Cinco Ranch High School senior, shot and killed a 14-foot-3-inch monster weighing 800 pounds at the Choke Canyon Reservoir between San Antonio and Corpus Christi during a public hunt on the James E. Daughtrey Wildlife Management Area. Wildlife officials estimated the alligator was between 30 and 50 years old.
Bielski and his dad, Troy, baited it with raw meat hung from a hook before shooting it at close range.
The father and son team were among 481 applicants who applied for 10 alligator permits issued by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's (TPWD) public hunting program for a five-day hunt at the Daughtrey Wildlife Management Area.
Troy told KHOU-TV that his son had been waiting for an opportunity to take part in the public hunt for many years.
Troy, who has applied every year to TPWD draws for a chance for his son to participate in the hunt, told KHOU-TV: "He’s wanted to hunt alligators for years. We got selected one year to go on a youth hunt at the J.D. Murphree WMA, but I didn't get the permit in on time. I remember Brax was very disappointed. This is the first year we've had to enter him as an adult and we got drawn."
Texas residents are required to apply for a permit to hunt alligators. Successful applicants are selected at random. The permit allows the holder to hunt alligators on Choke Canyon Reservoir in the Daughtrey WMA. According to TPWD, officials processed 998 applications in the alligator category and granted 165 permits.
Bielski never dreamed he would bag a record-size alligator at his first hunt. ABC Houston reports he said: "I always thought it'd be fun. Ever since I was eight, my dad was putting me in for these hunts. When you have a 14 foot anything that close to you, it got my heart going pretty well."
He recalled: "We went through a two-hour orientation and it was very thorough. My dad did a lot of research online about alligator hunting and we asked a lot of questions."
Troy said he was familiar with the area having done some bass fishing on the Choke Canyon years before. He said: "We spent a lot of time scouting some of the pastures in the compartment we were assigned, looking for likely spots to set our lines."
They soon found what appeared a large alligator in a cove and placed their baited lines. Bielski said: "We didn't pressure it, but while we were putting up our cane poles we could see it watching us 30 yards away."
Biggest alligator ever in Texas
Biggest alligator ever in Texas
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
When the two came the next morning they found they had caught two alligators. They killed them with a gun by firing at close range.
Troy's bait caught a huge female about 10-and-a-half feet long. But his son's catch eclipsed his. ABC Houston reports Bielski said: "Our boat was only 17 feet long, so we had to get the ten and a half footer in first. Then we realized we weren't going to be able to get 800 pounds also in the boat."
Bielski said when they towed the alligator to shore, "Everybody's face is just like, oh my gosh this gator was killed in this lake where they're fishing and letting their pets swim around."
Even at that point the pair had no idea they had caught a record-size specimen.
Biggest alligator ever in Texas
Biggest alligator ever in Texas
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
According to TPWD alligator program leader Amos Cooper, Choke Canyon is known to have big and old alligators. He said: "Choke Canyon has a larger size class than other areas because they have just began to hunt the area. A large alligator in Choke Canyon is not unusual but expected. You won’t see a lot of alligators on Choke Canyon but the alligators that you do see are relatively large."
Previous huge specimens in the area include two 13-feet monsters caught in 2011.
Bielski said: "I don't know if I'll ever be able to top a 14 foot alligator but I'll definitely try. It was really fun."
Bielski and his father sold their alligators to a processor. According to ABC Houston, they will receive 20 pounds of meat and the skull of the beast for trophy, which Braxton said he would be happy to keep.
His father said: "If we had just caught the one, I would have been happy for Brax. He's the reason I was there."
More about Alligator, biggest alligator, Braxton Bielski, James E Daughtrey Wildlife Management Area, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
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