That’s right folks, it’s gator time and I’ve only made it out onto the Withlacoochee River once now for a freezer full of swamp-chicken. I’d like to tell you I filled a tag already, but the only g bull I caught up with tore free of my line and escaped into thick hyacinth cover and escaped. But, my companion Cheyenne made pretty good use of the downtime though, by multi-tasking while shining for gators; she got busy catching catfish, so the night wasn’t a total loss.
My preferred method of gator hunting is to spot them swimming in open water and angling over towards them, never approaching directly, until near enough to cast a weighted treble hook to snag them on a heavy rod. I prefer to use eighty-pound test line on my heavy action casting rod with a hundred and twenty-pound leader. Once hooked up, it’s a matter of keeping the gator turned away from cover and bringing the boat in close enough to get a handline with a larger snatch hook thrown over the gator. Generally, once the handline is secured into that gator’s hide, it’s a sure bet he’s coming home for supper. Many’s the time, the gator has gone on the attack once the handline is secured and things tend to get mighty interesting really quickly.
A bang stick is then employed to take the fight out of them. I find it interesting that our Florida Wildlife Commission will not allow long guns or handguns for use in delivering the coup de gras. Regulations insist on the use of a bang stick, which is, in fact, a type of firearm; but hey, who am I to question the logic? I can tell you though, a bang stick is a very effective tool for taking the fight out of even the biggest gator…. One tap on top of the noggin and he’ll settle down for a peaceful ride home.
There are quite a few ways of getting your tag on a gator, the above is simply my preferred way. Many hunters I know prefer archery equipment, including crossbows, or hand-thrown harpoons, while others bait a line affixed to a wooden peg. Not a hook mind you, which is a popular method where it may be legal, but the baited peg, once secured in the gator’s belly will give you a fair amount of control on the gator before he spits it up and escapes. Baited pegs do give you the chance to secure him with a handline and snatch hook before he gets away, but it doesn’t offer the same sporting opportunity as a rod in open water. It’s the hunt which, until you’ve experienced it, there just isn’t any way to explain the thrill of it. That said, if any of you do find yourself inspired to fetch home some fresh gator for your family’s table, there are a fair number of gator guides out there looking for clients. I can pass along their information for the asking.
As always, if you have any comments or feedback, give me a shout at [email protected]. God Bless and Good Hunting!