We all know that alligator hunting is not for the faint of heart, but one Texas boy got more than he expected. As in a huge Texas sized alligator! There are hunters who go a lifetime dreaming of that big kill. Then there’s Simon Hughes, who helped nab a beast of an animal on an East Texas hunt — while still in the first grade. The 5-year-old boy from Goodrich was part of a hunting crew that recently killed an 800-pound, 12-foot-6-inch alligator that has wildlife experts shaking their heads.
The reptile, whose size is at a state record level, is now at the taxidermist waiting to be mounted. Simon’s family, meanwhile, is fielding calls from CNN and Good Morning America to feature his exploits. Simon learned to drive all-terrain vehicles and shoot firearms when he was only 4. So he was primed and ready to go on an alligator hunt this past weekend with his father, Scott Hughes, a sixth-generation rancher, and hunting guide Chuck Cotton.
Simon had a new junior-sized .410-gauge shotgun. His first gun had been too big, having a recoil that opened a small cut below one eye after he fired it. Neither his father nor mother worry about Simon using firearms, because he has been taught gun safety since he was big enough to walk and stand in a deer blind.
“That’s the way it is in rural areas,” Scott Hughes said. “We don’t think of guns as playthings or something used in videogames.” By the time of the alligator hunt, Simon could shoot clay pigeons. Polk County Sheriff Kenneth Hammack, a former Texas Ranger, has been bird hunting with Simon and said he shoots pretty well for his age. “Of course, you always keep an eye on children,” said Hammack, “but he’s learned a lot from his father.”
Scott had obtained a state permit to kill two of the 40 alligators populating his 5,000-acre spread near Lake Livingston because he knew something “real big was out there” and driving small alligators from the swampy areas and into his stock ponds. State law requires alligators be caught on a baited hook or shot with a bow and arrow. So they baited a hook on Saturday with some “smelly armadillo roadkill,” which apparently alligators adore. When they returned the next day, the line was taut. Something had been snared and was resting beneath the dark 4-foot-deep waters.