Quarter-century-old dog tag among items found in 12-foot SC gator’s belly
RAVENEL, S.C. (WCSC) - The owner of a Ravenel butcher and taxidermy shop says his team found five dog tags, a shell casing, turtle shells and even a spark plug inside the stomach of a 12-foot alligator killed by a Lowcountry hunter.
The gator, which weighed in at 445 pounds, was killed by Ned McNeely, who owns the Adams Run property where he found it.
He then took the animal to Cordray’s in Ravenel for processing, where the discovery was made.
I’ve got several alligator tags you apply for with the state,” he said.
South Carolina bases the number of tags hunters receive based on the acreage they have and alligator population.
McNeely said he has twin 7-year-old girls, three labs and a variety of duck impoundments at his property as well as a lot of swampland near the Edisto River.
“So I’m rife with alligators down there,” he said.
McNeely said he asked Kenneth Cordray about examining the gator’s belly.
Cordray says that’s something they don’t normally do, but in this case, they did.
“What we found is five dog tags, a spark plug...a bullet casing and bobcat claws,” Cordray said.
Some of the dog tags were still readable, so Cordray called one of the numbers.
“I talked to him and he was an older gentleman and he said that he had a lease down on the other side of the river from where the gator was killed, 24 years ago,” he said. Cordray said with so many gators down there, a dog would come up missing. “And that’s what they always figured is the dogs got eaten by the gators,” he said.
“I’ve always known alligators will take a dog if they get the chance,” McNeely said. “But how does the spark plug get in there?”
Both McNeely and Cordray said it’s difficult to estimate the alligator’s age. McNeely called it “an old man.”
“They grow according to their habitat and their food supply and their population,” Cordray said. “But, I mean, he’s up there because he was big enough to eat [full grown hunting dogs] 25 years ago.”
He said he estimates the kind of dog the man described would have weighed about 80 pounds or so.
Cordray said his team will process the alligator meat into steaks, summer sausage and jerky, which takes about a week; and then will make a mount of the gator’s skin, a process that takes about nine months.
He said in his 10 to 15 years of hunting alligators, this one was the biggest he has killed so far.
“I had to shoot it a couple of times, and I had to get a bunch of ropes and hooks and kayaks and a tractor with a chain to finally get it out of the canal, because it was in probably an eight to nine-foot canal,” he said.
McNeely said he’s still deciding what to do with the gator.
“My wife is upset with me,” he said, “because I’m talking about doing a full mount, or I might do a rug mount. I haven’t decided just yet.”
But he joked that his wife was “having discussions” with him about the plan.
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