The largest alligator to have ever been caught and certified in Texas state history was bagged by none other than a teenager who is still in high school. Making the monster gator catch all the more mystifying is the fact that this was the teen's first gator hunt.
The teen is 18-year-old high school senior Braxton Bielski and the monster gator -- caught while on a public hunt at James E. Daughtrey Wildlife Management Area -- measured an incredible 14-foot, 3-inches, weighing 800-pounds.
Bielski had always nurtured a fascination with dinosaurs growing up, according to the press release put out by Texas Parks & Wild Life Department on Wednesday, May 15. To be able to hunt "living dinosaurs," as TPWD put it, was a fantasy of Bielski's that he was delighted to finally engage in.
"He's wanted to hunt alligators for years," Braxton's father Troy Bielski, a Houston police officer, said. "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."
Troy Bielski had applied annually to receive a hunting permit for alligators in order to achieve his son's dream, but didn't make it until this year. This year, the Braxton's were 10 of 481 applicants who received a permit to go hunting alligators on a five-day trek through Daughtey WMA.
"We went through a two-hour orientation and it was very thorough," Braxton Bielski said. "My dad did a lot of research online about alligator hunting and we asked a lot of questions."
"The WMA staff did a really good job of explaining what we needed to do," Troy Bielski said. "We knew this gator was big and wanted to be sure we set the bait high enough out of the water."
The hunt itself took place specifically at Daugherty WMA's Choke Canyon Reservoir. Troy Bielski said that his son and he had some experience in the area, having gone bass fishing there in the past.
"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," Troy Bielski said.
After the Bielski's saw what they thought was a large gator somewhat concealed by a cove, they decided to place their bait lines nearby.
"We didn't pressure it, but while we were putting up our cane poles we could see it watching us 30 yards away," Braxton Bielski said.
The TPWD news release went on to say that in the half decade that hunting has gone on in the Daughtrey WMA area, there have been numerous monster gators caught, including two that measured more than 13-feet in 2011 and another in that class in 2012.
Troy Bieslki caught a monster gator himself, one that measured 10 ½ feet long. But it was nowhere near the caught made by Braxton.
"If we had just caught the one, I would have been happy for Brax," Troy said. "He's the reason I was there."
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