Giant gator killed in hunt at Florida farm

Measuring just shy of 15 feet, gator could be among largest on record

VENUS, Fla. – A giant gator killed during a guided hunt on a Florida farm could be one of the largest on record in the state.

Outwest Farms in Okeechobee posted a picture of the dead gator on its Facebook page Saturday. The picture showed the gator's carcass strung up on a John Deere front-end loader with a chain around its neck.

The post said the gator measured just shy of 15 feet.

Because the picture was posted so close to April Fool's Day, many commenters speculated that the photograph wasn't real or had been altered to make the gator appear larger than it was in real life.

"I'm curious...has the fish and game been notified to record the measurements to make it an official state record???? Since this is close to April Fools Day and photo shop of stuff like this is always on FB...just saying," Nelda Hall Erwin wrote.

"That almost looks photoshopped. Unreal," Peggy Middleton Simmons wrote.

However, most commenters seemed to believe that the gator was real.

Other pictures posted the same day on the farm's Facebook page show several hunters posing with their gator kills.

Local 10 News reporter Terrell Forney traveled to Outwest Farms to see the gargantuan catch for himself.

Lee Lightsey, who owns the farm, said his 9-year-old son, Mason, was pictured in the photo posing with the gator, which was killed with a single gunshot. He said it was the largest gator ever caught at Outwest Farms.

"He was dead when we pulled him up, and we just dragged him out," Lightsey said. "Of course, we couldn't drag him out by our hands, so we pulled him up with the tractor and just got some good pictures of it."

The alligator is being harvested. At least 100 pounds of edible meat will come from the tail, while the rest will be used to make clothing and accessories, Lightsey said.

The Outwest Farms owner said he knows the gator is likely the biggest he will ever catch.

"Gators that size are 100 years old," Lightsey said. "They're few and far between."

A search of the Florida Memory website, which houses the state's photo archives, shows that the largest gator officially recorded in Florida measured 17 1/2 feet.

About the Authors:

Peter Burke returned for a second stint of duty at Local 10 News in February 2014.

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.