I’ve always had a great fondness for alligators at suppertime. Growing up in the seventies to a cracker momma and a cajun daddy, these big swamp-chickens were often on the menu. And now it’s time to begin putting in your permit applications for the upcoming 2022 alligator season. You can bet I’ve filled out my own permit application, hoping to draw one of the few permits which will be issued for our county.
The application periods for the statewide alligator harvest permits are broken into four phases. We’re currently in the first phase of applications, which will end on May 16. With an estimated thirteen-million alligators in Florida, it’s generally not too difficult to draw a permit. However, drawing a permit for where and when you may want to hunt can sometimes be tough as everybody else is vying for the same easy access holes you are. But, if you’re willing to travel a ways to hunt some of the backwaters, tidal flats, or even land-locked ponds, you’ll do well in the drawing.
Now, there’s two types of permit opportunities to apply for. The first is for a particular county. The county permits allow you to hunt anywhere within the boundaries of the county line on public access waters or private waters, given you first obtain written permission. And the second is for one of 63 statewide Alligator Harvest Units. Each of these units are established by our Florida Wildlife Commission and may include only certain bodies of water with particularly dense populations of alligators.
I myself always put in county tags. I try to always hunt the rivers when I can, but have no problem with bank sitting on a farm pond or lake if that’s where the gators are. As for tactics though, I prefer to use my boat to close the distance on some big bulls in open water. You can’t drive directly at them, but stay on a course which will carry you nearby them. Once you pass as closely as you can, cast a weighted treble hook across the gator with a heavy surf rod. Now, know that once he’s hooked, you can’t just haul him into the boat, you’re far better off to bring the boat to him, or at least close enough to get a heavy handline with a snatch hook attached to him. Now, at this point, lots of folks prefer to secure a harpoon head into the skin with the use of crossbows, bows, and spears. This year, however, it will be legal to deliver the harpoon head by use of a pneumatic rifle built to fire harpoon-tipped arrows.
Regardless of which way you chose to attach the heavy line to your gator, you’re going to have a fight on your hands, in attempting to bring him close enough alongside for a tap on the head with your bangstick. Be very aware of your feet and hand placements and don’t take any unnecessary risks that could turn the advantage into mister gator’s favor. As always, if you have any comments, questions or just want to share your success from the woods, give me a shout out at [email protected]. God bless and good hunting!