Judy Cochran is having an eventful year: She was elected mayor of Livingston, Texas, became a great-grandmother, and killed a 12-foot-gator to avenge the death of her miniature horse.
Cochran, 73, felled the 580-pound animal with a single shot at her ranch earlier this week, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Alligator hunting is not uncommon in the US, and licenses are distributed by many Southeastern states, including Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas. In Polk County, where Cochran lives, alligator hunting season is in full swing. (All counties in Texas have alligator seasons, and Polk is one of 12 where it occurs Sept. 10-30.)
The plot twists in this otherwise common hunting tale highlight some uncommon drama.
“We think this is the gator that ate one of our miniature horses several years ago, as big as this gator was, he could’ve easily eaten it,” Cochran told the Chronicle. “Typically, the gators don’t bother us, but we’ve been looking for [this one,]” she said.
Opportunity presented itself when Cochran’s son-in-law spotted the suspected mini-horse-killer and lured him onto their property using a “seasoned raccoon.” Nana then took down the alligator with a Winchester .22 Magnum. She plans to make boots out of the hide, cook the meat, and mount the head in her office. Harvested gators can be very valuable, and USA Today estimated in 2016 that each of the estimated 1.2 million prowling Florida was worth $10,535, making for a potential state “Gross Gator Product” worth $13.7 billion.
There are strict rules around hunting the once-endangered alligator in the US. Populations recovered by 1987, with managed hunting programs emerging since then. As per Texas Parks & Wildlife regulations, Cochran, who had the necessary permits and tags, caught the alligator on a hook before shooting it. Other states have similar protocol, and the number of killed alligators must be reported. (In Florida, for example, 6,265 alligators were harvested in 2017).
And judging by Cochran’s family history, this might not be the last gator to meet its end on their property. In 2009, Cochran’s then-5-year-old grandson set a state record when he killed an even bigger 800-pound alligator in the same pond.