Nancy searches for alligators on her first hunt. She's the only woman out for the day. ( Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle )

Nancy Sample and her husband Mike search for alligators on Nancy's first hunt.

When Mike's boat gets stuck during an alligator hunt, he hops out to pull it through the thick weeds, just minutes after spotting an alligator swimming nearby. (Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle )

Just minutes after spotting an alligator swimming nearby, Mike Sample hops out to pull his boat through thick weeds.

Nancy kisses her husband after he reboards the boat, thankful he avoided alligators in the water. ( Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle )

Nancy kisses her husband after he climbs back into the boat.

Day two of the gator hunt starts bright and early. ( Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle )

Day two of the gator hunt starts bright and early.

“It’s a good one! It’s a good one! Whoa!” Mike yells, tugging it above water. Nancy can't believe her eyes. ( Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle )

“It’s a good one! It’s a good one!” Mike yells, tugging an alligator above water.

Nancy takes her first shot at the 10-foot alligator, hoping for a quick kill. ( Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle )

Nancy takes her first shot at the 10-foot alligator, hoping for a quick kill.

While Nancy's shot was right on target, the alligator's skull was so thick that the animal didn't die. In the end, Nancy had to shoot it three times and sever its medulla oblongata with a knife. ( Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle )

Nancy severs an alligator's spine with a knife to make sure it's dead after shooting it three times.

Nancy's 10 foot 1 inch alligator rests on the boat. Nancy and Mike set two lines during the hunt, but this is the only alligator they caught. ( Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle )

An alligator sits on the Sample's boat among beach bags and sun hats.

Mike and Nancy have been married for almost two years, and hunting is already bringing them closer together. Among other things, they plan to make an alligator-skin thong bikini for a romantic vacation to Brazil from the catch. ( Michael Ciaglo / Houston

Mike and Nancy have been married for almost two years, and hunting is already bringing them closer together. Among other things, they plan to make an alligator-skin thong bikini for a romantic vacation to Brazil from their catch.

Nancy and Mike lower the alligator back into the boat after measuring it. Nancy was the only woman on the hunt, and had one of the day's biggest catches. ( Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle )

Nancy and Mike raise their alligator to measure it. Nancy was the only woman on the hunt, and had one of the day's biggest catches.

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