Bow hunters capture massive alligator at Dayton’s Day Lake

Lee Sanford and his son, Dawson, of Tarkington, captured this 12-foot, 2.5-inch alligator on Dayton's Day Lake on Saturday.

Tarkington bow hunter Lee Sanford, who made headlines in September 2016 when he captured a 13.5-foot alligator in Day Lake south of Dayton, caught another monster alligator on Saturday in Day Lake. This gator, measuring in at 12 feet, 2.5 inches, may not be as big as the previous gator but it put up one heck of a fight, according to Sanford’s friend and fellow alligator hunter, David Nezat.

“Lee shot it with a bow. That’s unusual. The gator then turned around and charged at his boat, breaking off the trolling motor and biting the boat,” said Nezat.

Sanford was fishing with his son, Dawson, while Nezat was still on shore with his son, Jared. After fighting with the alligator for a couple of hours, Sanford was able to get the alligator under control. Once he got it to shore, Nezat and Jared helped them pull it out of the water.

Lee Sanford and his son, Dawson, display the massive 12-foot, 2.5-inch alligator they captured on Saturday in Dayton’s Day Lake. (Facebook photo shared by David Nezat)

“For three years in a row, Lee has killed the biggest alligators for Day Lake,” said Nezat. “He’s got a lucky knack. This year he is in the lead at Porter’s Processing in Anahuac.”

Nezat said the beast wasn’t the biggest alligator in Day Lake. Nezat has his sights set on capturing a 16-foot alligator that he has witnessed on occasions, but he will have to beat his friend to it.

“We know he’s in here somewhere,” said Nezat.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department regulates the annual harvesting of alligators through the distribution of tags. Nezat and Sanford apply for tags every year. The men have been friends and hunting buddies for the last 25 years.

“I still haven’t made up my mind if I like him or not,” said Nezat, jokingly. “I like to say that I taught him everything he knows about fishing, but he would strongly disagree with that.”

Bluebonnet News attempted to reach Sanford for comment but he was unavailable.

The alligator broke off the trolling motor on Sanford’s boat.
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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.


  1. He didn’t “capture” it. “Capture” leads people to believe it was removed and rehomed.
    Say it like it is. He KILLED it. Poor old thing lived a long time minding his own business.

    • Rebecca, it’s silly trying to parse words based on technicalities. But you’re indeed correct; he CAPTURED AND KILLED the “poor old thing…minding his own business.” Since you love technicalities, how do you know it was a “he?” How do you know it was a “poor old thing?” Projection? Assumption?

  2. No matter whether it was he or she it wasn’t bothering him and it didn’t deserve to die . She’s correct capture makes it sound kind,not truthful like killed

  3. Females don’t attain that size, and HE would have to be fairly old to reach those dimensions. Not sure how poor he was, though.

  4. I am not trying to be mean and I know they’re sports out there for every man and woman but we just all feel that want a gator is caught like that it it’s you have to understand dater is the next thing to dinosaurs why are you killing them off do you remember who used to save them and he lost his life trying to show us the love of every animal there was before you kill something make sure it’s because you need to eat it for your children to be fed and your family to be saved that’s why this world’s the way it is now people don’t care what they do are who they kill and this whole world is going down the ships because of it they think of nothing but money sex and what they can get from other people and it’s not right God did not make it to be like this they put these animals on this Earth for a reason and I feel it was not to be killed did you ever see God kill anything but a sheep or lamb please you need to stop killing these beautiful things if you catch him don’t you think you would make more money and more effort to keep them alive where people could see and learn from it and you can say that you have one you catch it you show it how much you care by giving it to an alligator farm that can keep it alive and show people about it there’s a lot of places out there would have saved that gator have a heart next time and do it that Gator was very old you can tell you shouldn’t have killed that gator just because you wanted to have the biggest one for the year it’s not right and you have to be judge God will judge you even though it might not be a man it’s still a death God says you shall not kill find out how far that is for before you do thank you God be with you

  5. OK, Boomer. Without anyone fighting to conserve our wildlife (who you simpletons like to call “tree huggers”), there would be nothing left for your Squidbilly species to “kill and grill”, you ignorant mouth breather. So, you’re welcome. You want to talk and eat like a predator, let’s see you kill it like one. Different story when your fat ass isn’t sitting in a boat with a gun, munching on beef jerky and calling it “hunting”.
    Only the mentally deranged take pleasure in taking lives.

  6. Omg they were hunting people there is a season for them like deer elk or anything els im sure it did not go too wast . Nice kill bro get another

  7. You do realize that gator farms do sell and kill the gators ?? Where do you think where restaurants get the meat?? Or sell it in the grocery stores LOL. Better off in a zoo or something but then again it’s not right to keep it captured in a cage like that I’m just stating facts about gator farms..

  8. Dear mrs Brenda Dooley, you are wrong about your statements concerning God. God specifically states in the Bible in Genesis 9 that he gave us animals on this earth for food. It is great to have compassion for animals but the truth is that animals are put here by the almighty Lord for us to harvest and eat, or use, like riding horses while working cattle. Additionally there are more verses in the Bible stating the very same thing. I was raised fishing Day Lake in the late 70s and 80s and know for a fact that those gators and gars must be fished out from time to time. Melvin Medlin use to take care of that back then. Also I Commend you for creating the longest sentence I’ve ever read. God Bless.

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