Danny Boler, above, buys, sells, mounts and processes alligators.
An alligator weighing more than 700 pounds lays on the floor this past Saturday on the walk-in freezer at B&L Meat Processing.
Alligator business in good for our state's only buyer. B&L Meat Processing owner Danny Boler, who also happens to be Vicksburg's only alligator meat processor, has been hard at work since the season opened August 29 and still has a freezer full of gators to get to. This is only his second year working in the alligator market, but it's given his business a boost during what previously a slower time of the year.
"Last year I decided I wanted to expand a little bit," Boler said.
"I started processing and skinning, and this year I decided I wanted to start buying since there's not a buyer in the state."
Although skinning and processing an alligator isn't that much different than any other animal, he had to learn the basics before he could cut into his first one.
"It was new to me last year, I had to learn everything, Boler said. "I had to learn how to skin them, where to cut them and where not to cut them"
Along with meat processing, he is also the only resident buyer of alligators in the state of Mississippi. Boler buys mostly from hunters in west central and southwest Mississippi, and attributes his success to Vicksburg's proximity to those regions.
"We're dead in between both regions, it's very convenient," he said. "It's an easy out for the hunters.
Boler, who is self-described "middle man," buys whole alligators or just their hides, and then ships then to buyers in south Louisiana. At that point those hides may become purses, jackets, or a new pair of shoes, depending on what the demand is.
Boler has had steady business, receiving about 100 alligators this year, but hopes to grow even more in the coming years. The volume of his business depends heavily on what time of the year it is, and this gives him something to do before deer season gets in full swing and he's working sixteen-hour days.
"It makes me have a year-round job," Boler said. "I go from taxidermy alligator processing to deer processing, then start over."
Once deer season ends he'll begin his taxidermy work, mounting deer, fish, alligator heads, and anything else that customers want as a lasting memory of their hunt.
Although the concept of processing an alligator for meat or taxidermy is similar to other animals, the sheer size of most of the reptiles is what's difficult. With Mississippi's newest state record holder weighing in at a massive 792 pounds, even a medium-sized alligator can be too much for one man.
"They're hard to do anything with, it's not like dragging a deer through the door," Boler said. "He's a dinosaur." ~The Vicksburg Post
VICKSBURG, Miss., Sept. 2 (UPI) -- A record-breaking alligator was reeled in on Tuesday in the waters of the Mississippi River.
The almost 800 pound gator was captured near Vicksburg, Mississippi. The alligator was 13.5 feet in length.
That behemoth barely beats the record that was set over the weekend, when a group of men snagged a gator that was more than 13 feet in length and also weighed 756 pounds. Robert Mahaffey and his friends caught that one in the Mississippi River, also near Vicksburg.
"I reached down and grabbed my rod, Jay stepped out of the way and there is this huge head sitting on top of the water."
Mahaffey was also the fisherman who caught last year's record-breaking alligator.
Mississippi researchers said they don't think the gators there are getting bigger, rather people are now finding ones that had been hidden until recently.
Alligator hunting season in Mississippi still has three more weeks to go. Hunting on public land ends Monday and on September 22 for private land.