SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - A first-time alligator hunter landed a major catch Sunday from the Ashley River in Summerville.
Mike Montei captured a 13-foot-4-inch, 604-pound alligator behind the Kings Grant subdivision. Montei was out on the water with his daughter, Sarah, and his nephew, Matt McCarty.
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It was his first-time alligator hunting.
"I had entered the state lottery [for alligator hunting] for a few years, and this year I was finally selected," he said. "So we decided to go gator hunting."
They were in the water for no more than 30 minutes, he said, when it happened.
"We didn't know what we had at first," Montei said. "We saw its head then it went under."
They were only able to pull about four feet of the gator's tail onto the boat.
"I'm a big believer in being a steward of what you have," Montei said. "To catch it and let it go to waste would be the worst thing you could do."
They secured the gator to the boat so that it wasn't going anywhere.
The gator will be processed into steaks, sausage, jerky, and more, he said. There is a percentage of the animal that cannot be processed but said he is trusting the experts with that.
Cordray's Processing and Taxidermy in Ravenel posted photos of the gator on its Facebook page.
"Mike Montei took this monster out of the Ashley River in Summerville," the post read.
The post said the gator was "by far the biggest" they have seen this year.
Montei, an avid outdoorsman all his life, said he and his family spend a lot of time on the water as a family. He knew there were alligators in the waters, but didn't go on the trip Sunday night expecting to find one.
"My number one priority was not to go out and harvest the biggest gator on the block," he said. "My priority was to go out and have fun on the water with my daughter and nephew.
But the outcome, one might say, was the ultimate "beginner's luck."
"The whole thing is a game of chance to begin with," Montei said. "You have to be selected in the lottery, then you have to find the opportunity."
Montei called the experience a bucket list item.
"It was very exciting," he said.