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Outdoors: Mom gets the gator tag so family pitches in

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

For years, Rachel Lankford has been watching as her husband and sons bring home big alligators during hunting season.

This year, it was her turn.

Lankford’s name was selected in a drawing for a state gator tag, and she made the most of it last week, bagging a 600-pounder in Jericho Creek across the Waccamaw River from Hagley Landing.

It was also the first successful hunt for Lankford’s daughter, Caroline, who held a spotlight on the big gator while she shot him with an arrow to sink an anchor line and sons Justin and Mickey got two more lines on him with treble hooks.

Handling gators is usually routine for the Lankfords. Pawleys Island Exterminators removes nuisance gators all the time. Mickey pulled one out of a home swimming pool recently, and Justin removed one at the Lakes of Litchfield.

But hunting gets their juices flowing.

“We spotted one other one on the night of the hunt and it went under,” Lankford said. “We saw this one about 200 yards out, and Caroline kept the light on him. With a light in their eyes, they can’t see you coming.”

When the three lines were secure, the gator went to the bottom, and the Lankfords waited about 30 minutes for him to surface.

After he was brought alongside and killed, they discovered he was too big for their boat.

“Once I saw those cheeks,” Lankford said, “I knew he was big.”

Lankford called Dana Marsh and son Blake, Lee Jones and Brett Guarino, and they came to help.

“Everything went well,” Lankford said.

She said her sons would stuff him – as they do with all their large gators – and she would freeze some of the meat to share with family friends as far away as Texas and make alligator sausage out of the rest.

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