STUART, Fla. - STUART — Mike Kirkhart has a monster of a project on his hands.
The owner of New Wave Taxidermy in Stuart along with his son, Buddy Kirkhart, and Justin Herron, are making a mold of what is believed to be the largest alligator gar ever caught. Once finished, they plan to mount it.
On April 26, Kirkhart brought to Stuart the 327-pound alligator gar caught Feb. 14 in a net in Chotard Lake in Issaquena County in Mississippi by Kenny Williams of Vicksburg, Miss.
"It looks like a dinosaur," said Kirkhart of the nearly 8.5-foot-long fish estimated at 50 to 75 years old. "What a beautiful and ugly creature."
Kirkhart has been commissioned to make a skin mount for the state of Mississippi as and a full-size fiberglass reproduction Williams. When complete, the mount will be on display at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson.
The mold is complete and drying in halves at the Stuart business. The fish is skinned with its head removed and frozen. The head will be rebuilt with its own mold along with the intricate work of re-creating hundreds of teeth.
"When we reproduce it, we're reproducing its beauty, not its death," Kirkhart said. "In a sense, we're bringing it back to life."
Staff writer Ed Killer contributed to this report