After years of being on the federal list of endangered species, the alligator population in Alabama has grown to the point that the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources now allows a limited hunting season. In southwest Alabama, 150 applicants are randomly drawn by a computer to receive an Alligator Possession Tag.

Lee Wright of Daphne had been trying for a long time to win the right to go hunting in the swamps. According to a recent story about his adventure (tinyurl.com/j9hfwdz), he could not believe the news when he got a letter from the DCNR.

“I’ve been applying for eight years,” Wright said. “I didn’t even realize I’d gotten one at first. It didn’t say ‘Sorry,’ like it had in the past. When I looked it up, it didn’t say ‘Congratulations’ or anything like that. It asked which [training] class I wanted to attend. I was looking, and said, ‘Did I get one?’

“I sure did. I couldn’t really sleep that night I was so excited.”

With his golden ticket in hand, he pulled together a team consisting of Jackson Woodson, Phillip Brooks and brothers Alvin and James Nelson. The Nelsons had hunted alligators before and had a boat rigged for the chase.

(Submitted) The team of (left to right) Alvin Nelson, Jackson Woodson, Phillip Brooks and tag holder Lee Wright got more than once chance at this monster alligator that was finally subdued on the final night of the season in the Southwest Alabama Zone. The gator measured 12 feet, 10 inches and weighed 684 pounds.

(Submitted) The team of (left to right) Alvin Nelson, Jackson Woodson, Phillip Brooks and tag holder Lee Wright got more than once chance at this monster alligator that was finally subdued on the final night of the season in the Southwest Alabama Zone. The gator measured 12 feet, 10 inches and weighed 684 pounds.

After a few near misses over six nights, time was running out in the season on hooking a large specimen. The group decided to capture whatever they could find on their final night.

They staked out an area known as the Cutoff, which is a channel between the Alabama and Mobile rivers. At about 10 p.m., they spotted what they had been seeking all week.

Despite the use of numerous grappling hooks and harpoons, the massive alligator would not go down without a fight. After breaking all the lines and nearly capsizing the 20-foot boat, the crew waited another 45 minutes before they got another chance to secure their prize.

At the weigh station on the Causeway, the gator measured 12 feet, 10 inches in length and 684 pounds — the heavyweight of the season so far. Wright is now allowing the Dauphin Island Sea Lab to study the big catch.

“The Sea Lab doesn’t have a chance to get gators that big and that old that come from the wild,” Wright said. “They’re going to do a necropsy and see what he had been eating and other tests. They think he’s about 60 years old. I am going to have a head mount made.”

Wright also said others applying for the coveted tag should not give up. A points system benefits those who have previously applied.

“If I can get a tag, anybody can get one because my luck’s not that good,” Wright said. His prized trophy would likely not agree.

Making it to The Show
Jordan Patterson, who played for Baker High School and the University of South Alabama, has been promoted to the Colorado Rockies. While playing with the Albuquerque Isotopes, he was named the team’s MVP after batting .293 with 24 doubles, seven triples, 14 home runs, 61 runs batted in and 10 stolen bases.

“It is really unbelievable and surreal,” said Patterson, who is listed as both a first baseman and outfielder with the National League team. “Ultimately, every kid dreams of being a big leaguer one day, and since I have been a kid that is sincerely what I wanted to be.”

The Isotopes had just played their final regular-season game when his manager told him about the promotion. “I FaceTimed my family, and they just happened to all be together at the house for Labor Day,” Patterson said, referring to the video chat application. “I got to tell everybody at the same time. It was a great moment.”

Through his first seven games with the Rockies, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound left-hander was hitting .286. He has played all the games in the outfield.

Unique triathlon set
The Mobile Bar Foundation and the Mobile Sports Authority are teaming up to sponsor a USA Triathlon-sanctioned event on Saturday, Oct. 15, at Dauphin Island. The Tri-the-Gulf will consist of a 600-yard swim in the Gulf of Mexico, a 13.3-mile island/bridge bicycle ride and a 3.1-mile island run.

The inaugural race, which is presented by Infirmary Health Systems, will start at the Isle Dauphine Golf Club. The race will begin at 7 a.m.

“We are thrilled to be hosting this first-time triathlon on Dauphin Island,” said Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis, the event committee chairperson. “We want to thank the Town of Dauphin Island and the Dauphin Island Property Owners Association for working with us to welcome this unique event to Mobile County. I also want to thank the Mobile Sports Authority for their assistance in helping us with the many details to get us started. Wind Creek Casino, Roberts Brothers Real Estate Company, The Admiral Hotel and Whole Foods have been significant sponsors of this event and deserve many thanks as well.”

For more information on the Tri-the-Gulf Triathlon or to register for the event, please visit www.trithegulf.com.

Heart for Athletes need volunteers
Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the top cause of death in athletes ages 17 to 35. To help uncover potential health problems, the Heart for Athletes group is sponsoring a screening Thursday, Oct. 27, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Fairhope High School.

Amy Cockrell, the founder of Heart for Athletes, is seeking volunteers for the day. Help is needed for blood pressure checks, electrocardiogram monitoring and clerical work at the check-in desk. Interested parties may contact her at 251-510-7263 or [email protected].

The service is offered free of charge to athletes ages 13 to 18 from Mobile and Baldwin counties. A typical screening takes approximately 30 minutes.

The goal of these screenings is to find athletes at risk for SCA by looking for the conditions that are most likely to cause the disorder. To learn more, visit www.heartforathletes.org.