13-foot gator pulled from Turtle Bayou in Chambers County

Liberty County residents Joel Hennis and his buddy Tommy Strawn (right) hold open the jaws of a massive 13-foot alligator harvested from Turtle Bayou in Chambers County.

A bayou in Chambers County, Texas, may be named for turtles, but it is also home to some enormous alligators.

There’s one less alligator now lurking in the waters of Turtle Bayou as a 13-foot and half-inch, 680-pound beast was pulled from the bayou on Thursday, Sept. 28, behind the home of Robert Hennis, 72. Hennis, his son, Joel, Rev. John Bernandini Jr. and Tommy Strawn captured the alligator using legal alligator-harvesting tags provided through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Alligator hunting season in Southeast Texas runs from Sept. 10-30 every year, and the Hennises, avid outdoorsmen, apply for tags. This year they received two tags. The harvesting of the enormous alligator behind Robert’s home took place just two days before the season ended.

Tommy Strawn, Robert Hennis and Joel Hennis

“We have been trying to get this gator for 20 years. Every year, a week before the season, we will see him, and then we won’t see him again until after the season is over. This time he bit the wrong hook,” said Joel, a resident of south Liberty County.

They used mullet they caught in the bayou as bait when the chicken they were using for bait failed to hook a gator. Joel said it took four 800-pound paracords to bring the gator up to the surface. The gator broke two lines as he thrashed about and tried to avoid capture.

Once captured, the gator was taken to Porter’s Processing in Anahuac. Most of the meat harvested from the gator is being donated to people at Bernandini’s church. Joel said he and his father took 5-10 pounds of meat from the jowls, which he swears is the best cut on the gator.

As this was likely a once-in-a-lifetime harvest for Joel and his father, they are having a full-body mount made of the alligator’s carcass.

Over the years, Joel has grown comfortable around the gators, even swimming in the bayou during the summer. To the critics of alligator harvesting, who think the alligators should be left alone, Joel said, “They don’t know anything about alligators. We see so many alligators out there all the time.”

In fact, one of Chambers County’s bragging rights, the Alligator Capital of Texas, is that the alligator population there still outnumbers the human population three to one.

Robert Hennis and Rev. John Bernandini Jr.


  1. I’m proud they got him I’m sure they saved a lot of calves and maybe even a small cows life. On top of maybe someone’s kids or dogs. Thank you. To bad you didn’t get him in for the Gator 🐊 Feast.  I think you would have won!!!!

  2. Congratulations! Thankful for you gentlemen for this wonderful catch over 20 years of planning and preparing for a long overdue accomplishment. Gators are three to one over Humans out there so also thankful for the few weeks of Gator season 🙏

  3. These guys have No Respect for life, but Self Glory, hunting this Alligator for 20 years, What did this Alligator do but live, Man does Not kill for Food but for Sport, no Respect for Yahweh’s living creatures vain Glory!!

  4. I wonder how Many animals and how many people this monster has dined on in the last 20+ years ! COULD SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT THE THING IS DOWN BETWEEN ITS 2 HINE FEET? IT LOOKS LIKE A LITTLE SLIT WITH SOMETHING HANGING OUT OF IT. I would be curious to see what is in his stomach.

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