A Maryland man found a nearly 8-foot-long alligator over the weekend in a pond off the Chesapeake Bay, caught it using chicken breasts as bait, shot it with a crossbow and put the meat in his freezer.

The tale of how 43-year-old William Adams — a.k.a. Crocodile Dundee — and his 14-year-old son, Jake, came to find the alligator has created a buzz in his Southern Maryland hometown of Lusby, population 1,835, about 60 miles southeast of Washington. State wildlife officials said it is likely that someone had been trying to raise the gator as a pet, then released it.

On Tuesday, Adams said he put to use lessons learned from a television show while trying to remove the alligator from his family’s favorite kayaking spot, a mission he accomplished on Father’s Day.

In early June, Adams said he and his son were kayaking near their home at Chesapeake Ranch Estates. Adams, an avid outdoorsman, said he and his son often go hunting, fishing and kayaking.

Usually they find a snakehead fish. This time, Adams said he and his son were fishing from kayaks when he drifted up to a pile of trees that had fallen into the water.

“I looked down and about a foot away was a big alligator head,” Adams recalled. “That’s all I could see.” He said he quietly paddled away and told his son they should get out of the water.

He returned and unsuccessfully tried to find the alligator in the three-foot-deep pond. He said he ordered some “hooks and lines off the Internet” that could hold up to 980 pounds, and on Saturday he went back to the pond. He set up lines with a hook and chicken breasts for bait, tying them in trees just above the water.

He has seen alligators in his twice-a-year visits to his wife’s family in Florida, but had never been close to one. The closest alligators to the Washington region are typically near North Carolina beaches in the Kitty Hawk area, experts said.

Adams, who works for a bathroom and kitchen renovation company, said he learned how to trap the gator from watching the History Channel’s “Swamp People,” a show that chronicles alligator-hunting season in the Louisiana swamps. The key, Adams said, is to drill a hole in a clothespin, then hook it to a long line and a tree so the alligator bites but “doesn’t feel any pressure or else it will let go.”

Adams said he baited the contraption and left it overnight because “that’s when alligators eat.” The next morning, on Father’s Day, Adams and his son went back to the pond.

“We went back first thing in the morning, and it was there on the lines,” Adams said. He said the alligator was thrashing, so he crept up on it, got about two feet away and shot it behind the skull with his crossbow.

“It was pretty scary,” Adams recalled, “especially because I don’t know anything about alligators.”

He said he, along with his son and a family friend, Steve Carson, dragged the gator out of the water, put it in his Dodge Dakota and showed a few friends.

Adams said the gator measured 7 feet, 6 inches, and estimated that it weighed 150 to 175 pounds. He plans to have a taxidermist stuff and mount the alligator in a trophy room at his house.

News traveled fast, especially after Adams took the alligator to Driftwood Beach near his home.

“They thought it was the craziest thing they’d ever seen,” Adams said of his friends’ reactions.

On social media, some expressed support for Adams, while others questioned why he did not contact wildlife authorities.

Adams said he did not report the alligator because he did not think officials would find it. And, he said, “I just felt like I needed to do it … so no kids or dogs would get hurt.”

Jessica Adams, his wife, defended her husband against criticisms Monday in a Facebook post, writing that he is a “animal lover and has rescued and saved many” animals. That includes squirrels that have fallen from trees, an owl hit by a car and abandoned bunnies, plus cats and dogs the family has rescued.

“We are an animal-loving family,” she said in her post. “It’s not everyday you see an almost 8′ alligator swimming around in a pond near the beaches your children and pets swim at,” Jessica posted on Facebook. “He did what he thought was best and he has no regrets.”

Adams said he used a crossbow to shoot the alligator because the pond is in a residential area, about 150 yards from homes, and guns are not allowed.

Adams said he called the Maryland Department of Natural Resources on Monday and reported that he had caught and shot the alligator with a crossbow.

Gregg Bortz, a spokesman for the Maryland DNR, said in a statement that “there have been occasional rumors of alligators in the Calvert County area previously but none could be confirmed by DNR.”

“We have had alligators or other nonnative crocodilians show up in the wild in Maryland in the past,” Bortz said. He said residents have illegally kept alligators as pets, then released them into the wild when they become too large.

“There are no Maryland state laws against killing an alligator,” he said.

Adams’s family cooked a Father’s Day meal of alligator bites, fried with flour and sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning. He said it tasted “just like chicken with a steak texture.”