There ain’t nothing to be afraid of when hunting a 14-foot alligator.

Richie Smith has been doing it long before it was even legal in Florida. He knows by now, the gator he’s been chasing for years isn’t interested in turning him into breakfast or lunch or dinner. It just wants to get away.

Smith and his buddy Alex Horton have never seen the massive reptile in its entirety but by the glimpses they’ve had, they know it’s a big one. Well over 13 feet, the beast has the potential to break the state record, set at 14 feet and 3.5 inches for length and 1,043 pounds for weight.

Two reptiles sit side by side.
Wikimedia Commons

Hundreds of reptiles will be slithering into the Florida State Fairgrounds this weekend.

Leopard geckos, boa constrictors, and ball pythons are among the creatures guests can expect to see at Repticon. Reptiles will be sold at the event, but organizers urge people to think carefully before selecting one as a pet.

Sarasota County Sheriff's Office

Florida homeowners beware: one big gator has been found splashing in a backyard swimming pool and it took a trapper to drag it away.

Mary Wells Frates (Facebook)

Video of a massive alligator caught walking through a Florida nature reserve in front of stunned onlookers has prompted crowds of people hoping to catch their own glimpse.

Alligator Season Starts Friday

Aug 15, 2014
Associated Press

Today is is the start of Florida's alligator hunting season. One wildlife refuge in Boynton Beach will open its season for the first time ever - in fact it’s the first time a wildlife refuge has ever allowed sport hunting of alligators in the country.

Of the more than 1,200 people who applied for permits, only 11 were issued through a lottery system. Each hunter can kill two alligators during the limited hunting season.

Courtesy Jeff Klinkenberg

Imagine a job that sends you out onto the road to find the most interesting stories in the state.

Stories about wild places, like this one, and people of all sorts.

But Tampa Bay Times writer Jeff Klinkenberg isn't fond of the notion that Florida is a bastion of weirdness.  He likes to say there is a "rich diversity" of stories, and he aims to tell some very interesting ones.