For one Richmond, MO, man his latest catch might not be his biggest, but it was sure his strangest while fishing in the countryside. His unusual discovery has the whole town talking.
A 4-foot alligator is not what one would expect to see washed up on the sand banks of a rural Missouri watering hole.
"This is my first time ever running across anything like this," Ervin Franklin said.
The 70-year-old was out fishing for crappie last Saturday when he found the 30 pounds of rubbery scales.
"I didn't even get a bite as far as crappie fishing, but this was a bigger find," he said. "He was actually laying kind of a little bit on his side," Franklin said.
It was lying lifeless on the banks, with part of his tail sticking in the water.
"At first I thought it was a dead fish laying there. The closer I got, I seen the legs, and I realized it wasn't a fish," he said.
Making sure it was perfectly dead first, Franklin picked it up, loaded it in his truck and took it home with him.
"I knew that if I didn't bring him home, nobody is going to believe this story. They aren't going to believe you've seen an alligator down in a pothole along the river," he said.
Franklin reported his find to the game warden who told him, "Finders keepers."
"I may end up trying to skin him out," Franklin said.
In the meantime, as long as the temperatures flirt near freezing the alligator will stay in the bed of his truck where he will keep it there to show everyone he knows, because everybody wants to see it, to believe it.
Officials at the Missouri Department of Conservation can't confirm what the reptile was, but say it is either an alligator or a caiman.
They can't say for sure, because they don't have anyone who specializes in the species this far north. But whatever it was, officials say it probably used to be someone's pet that they let go.
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