The owner of a butcher and taxidermy shop in Ravenel, South Carolina, said his team recently discovered five dog tags and several other items inside the belly of a 12-foot alligator.
“The gator, which weighed in at 445 pounds, was killed by Ned McNeely, who owns the Adams Run property where he found it,” WCSC reported Friday.
He transported the creature to Cordray’s to have it processed where the team later found the items, the outlet said.
The state reportedly bases the number of tags hunters get based on their acreage and the alligator population.
“McNeely said he has twin 7-year-old girls, three labs and a variety of duck impoundments at his property as well as a lot of swampland near the Edisto River,” the WCSC report stated.
He asked the shop’s Kenneth Cordray about looking inside the alligator’s stomach and Cordray said that is not something the team normally does but decided to grant his request.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, the business shared photos of the animal and detailed the other items the employee’s found.
“5 dog tags, 1 bullet jacket, 1 spark plug, loads of turtle shells, and several bobcat claws were inside. Two of the tags were legible and one phone number still worked. The owner said he had that lease 24 years ago and those were from his deer dogs. Pretty interesting,” the post read:
Ned McNeely brought in this 12’ long 445 lb. private land gator this morning! We don’t usually open up the stomach but…
Cordray picked up the phone and dialed the number on one of the dog tags.
“I talked to him and he was an older gentleman and he said that he had a lease down on the other side of the river from where the gator was killed, 24 years ago,” he commented, adding that because there were so many alligators there, dogs do go missing.
“And that’s what they always figured is the dogs got eaten by the gators,” he noted.
The men had difficulty estimating the creature’s age, but McNeely described it as “an old man.”
“They grow according to their habitat and their food supply and their population,” Cordray explained, adding, “But, I mean, he’s up there because he was big enough to eat [full grown hunting dogs] 25 years ago.”
According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), the American alligator is the only crocodilian native to the state and can live to be more than 60-years-old.
McNeely has so far not made up his mind about what to do with the animal once it is processed.
“My wife is upset with me because I’m talking about doing a full mount, or I might do a rug mount. I haven’t decided just yet,” he said.