Normally gator hunters are coy about where they got the big one. After all, they might be going back to those waters and looking for another one in years to come.

But Dalton Morrison is pretty sure that the 13-foot, 6 3/4-inch gator he caught last Saturday with his father and an 11-year-old family friend was the only big one in Basin Bayou.

In fact, he thinks it might the same gator he and his brother encountered nearly 10 years ago while gigging for flounder.

"You can never really say it's the same gator, but when I was about 16, me and my brother saw a really big one," said the 25-year-old Freeport native who has been fishing since he could walk. "All throughout (this) summer, we've seen him on and off."

The gator is one of the biggest ever killed in the state of Florida. It cracked the Top 10 list, with most of the others being caught in South Florida. His head is more than a foot wide from cheek to cheek and close to three feet long, Dalton guessed.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission officer who came to see it told Morrison he wouldn't be surprised if it weighed 1,000 pounds.

Dalton, his father Tilton Morrison, and family friend 11-year-old Cade Nick put the boat in Friday evening and searched for hours before finally spotting the big gator around 1 a.m. They fought it for 45 minutes before it got away. 

They all knew it was out there, somewhere.

"I've been seeing that gator since I was little-little," Cade said.

After losing it the first time, the gator hunters were discouraged and frustrated. Finally, Cade asked if they could just go find a gator, any gator, even a smaller one.

They were trolling near the grassy shoreline shining a light down into the water when they saw him in about two feet of water. Using a cross bow, they shot him and then fought him again, this time successfully subduing him.

But getting him into the boat was another matter. Every time they tried, the boat would take on water. Finally, they gave up and tied it to the cleats on the side of the boat, towing it to shore.

Once there, it took seven men and Cade to drag him up the shore and eventually into a freezer truck.

Dalton said they didn't realize just how big he was until they tied him to the boat and noticed his tail was dragging behind it.

"He drug us all over the bayou," he said of hours they spent fighting the gator. "We got a lot of rope burn on our hands."