Down on the Bayou: Gator Hunting in Claiborne County

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Mississippi’s ten day gator hunting season wraps up today. Many of the state’s recording breaking gators are caught in Claiborne County’s Bayou Pierre.
News 25’s Toni Miles hit the waters this weekend and caught up with some Mississippians on the hunt in the bayou.
Red eyes soon disappear into the night in Claiborne County’s Bayou Pierre, the site of many of the state’s record breaking gator catches. Conservation Officer Gregory Washington Jr. believes high waters from the flood make Bayou Pierre a prime hunting spot. “Patrolling the port here, you’re typically going to see big gators coming across here, 10 foot, 11 foot gators, all out in this open area.”
Last Sunday, a Vicksburg woman and her team caught a nearly 14 foot long gator, weighing in at 686 pounds and beating the previous state record by only one-eighth of an inch. The Barnes family just missed it. Gator hunter Peyton Barnes said, “We couldn’t believe it. We were in here. We must have driven right past him, I guess.”
But the Barnes decided to try give another run this past weekend and they got a bite, a big one. “When we snagged him our reel broke. There was no anti reverse on the reel, so we’re having to hold the reel to keep it from turning.”
The Barnes decided to let him go. Gator hunter Reid Barnes said, “We got a 12.2 last year. I guess our hopes are kind of high. We might should have kept the 10, but we let him go.”
Not everyone is such a good sport, as evidenced by a gator that was shot and killed illegally. It doesn’t end here. Conservation officers will continue keeping an eye out for poachers, who break the laws of men and nature.
As for the Barnes, gator hunting has becoming a family tradition.

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned....