Where to Hunt Alligators

Want to hunt an alligator? Here are nine states where pursuing your dream of killing an alligator can become a reality.

Where to Hunt Alligators

Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina offer opportunites for allgator hunting thanks to managed, controlled events with mandatory check-in by hunters. (Photo: Jason Hauser)

Hunters often have a bucket list. However, the list might not be the same for all. One might have a Boone & Crockett buck on it. Another might have a trip to South Africa. Others want to kill an alligator.

If you have an alligator hunt on your mind, you’ll need to make a game plan as you have only a few options to get it done. 

Alligator hunts are limited and there is a short window to be successful. A variety of tools and techniques can be used to hunt alligators, often resulting in high success rates.

Whether you choose to do a DIY hunt or hire an outfitter, there are a few places where you can wrap your tag around one of these prehistoric creatures.  

Florida

Season: Aug. 15-Nov. 20 1, 2020 (various seasons within the state)

License Fees: Residents $272, Nonresidents $1,022. Permits can be applied for beginning mid-May.

There are a lot of alligators in the Sunshine State but permits can be expensive if you are drawn. On top of that expense you will need to hire a guide if you are not familiar with alligator hunting or have the proper gear. The limit for Florida gators is two.

Hunting hours for alligators in Florida run from 5 p.m. to 10 a.m. Buy some good headlamps and be ready for a long, exciting night.

Firearms are not allowed except for the use of bang sticks. More popular methods include using spears, spearguns, harpoons, gigs, bows and crossbows. Hunters can also use snares, snatch hooks, hand-held catch poles, baited wooden pegs and fishing poles with baited wooden pegs, artificial lures or weighted treble hooks.

Another option is to hunt on an alligator farm. For a permit that costs less than a $50, hunters have the opportunity to hunt wild alligators on private property. Often, these alligators are nuisance alligators that have been relocated. The size of alligator you are looking for will decide what you ultimately pay. Most of these types of hunts charge by the foot. I have hunted this way several times with the Razzor Ranch in south Florida and highly recommend it.

Infomyfwc.com/license/limited-entry/alligator-hunt-permit/

Texas

Season: Sept. 10-30, 2020 (Core areas), April 1 – June 30, 2020 (Non-core areas)

License Fees: Resident annual hunting $25, Non-resident $315

Texas offers core and non-core counties for hunting. The license you use to hunt deer and other game is the one needed to hunt alligators. Texas is affordable when you consider all of the hunting that can be done on a license.

If you are hiring a guide, expect to pay in the neighborhood of $2,500 for a hunt. A good guide will have scouted the hunting grounds and knows where the gators are living.

Core counties constitute the prime historical habitat for the American alligator. The bag limit in non-core counties is one alligator per person per license year. Alligators may not be taken during this season on any property where alligators were taken during the September season.  

One or more of the following legal means and methods may be used for the taking an alligator, but only one method at a time can be utilized: Hook and Line (line set); lawful archery equipment (with barbed arrow) including longbow, recurve bow or compound bow with reel device and arrows with line of at least 300-pound test securely attached to the barbed fish point; hand-held snare or alligator gig.

Firearms may be used to take alligators only on private property. It’s unlawful to take an alligator by means of firearms from, in, on, across or over public water. Centerfire only; rimfire unlawful, except for dispatch. Airguns and bowguns are also legal tools.

An alligator captured on a taking device (line set, lawful archery equipment, gig or snare) must be killed immediately.

Infotpwd.texas.gov/regulations/outdoor-annual/regs/animals/alligator/

Louisiana

Season: Early August – early October (depending on zone)

License Fees: Residents $25, Non-resident landowners $125, Non-residents $150

The cost of hunting gators in Louisiana is a little less expensive than some other states, but there is a downside. Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries issues alligator tags only to hunters who own their land or who have permission to hunt someone else’s. Hunters may take one alligator per tag.

You can use archery gear, hook and line or firearms other than shotguns. But it is legal to shoot a swimming alligator. Remember that you have a small target to aim at, and being off just an inch could result in a wounded but not dead gator.

Hunting hours are daytime only. Baited hooks can be left overnight but a gator cannot be taken off the line after dark. Gator hunting is popular in Louisiana and there are plenty of guides.

Infowww.wlf.louisiana.gov/alligator-hunting-regulations-overview

Mississippi

Season: Aug. 28 - Sept. 7 for public waters/land and Aug. 28 - Sept. 21 for private waters/lands

License Fees: $25 license plus possession permit; $100 residents, $200 nonresidents

Mississippi does not give out a lot of gator permits, but if you happen to get drawn there is the possibility of getting a true trophy.

The state only allows snatch hooks, snares, harpoons or bowfishing equipment. Use of baited hooks is not legal. For dispatching gators, only bang sticks and shotguns are legal.

Minimum size limit is at least four feet. Season bag limit is two, with only one exceeding seven feet.

Alligators may be found all across Mississippi. They are most prevalent in the southern two-thirds of the state, south of the U.S. 82 highway. There are guides within the state. If you get drawn for a tag, book your guided hunt as soon as possible. Guides fill up quickly.

The drawing is held is held mid-June. Those drawn are immediately notified via email and have 48 hours to complete the purchase of the $200 permit. Any permits unclaimed within the 48-hour window are awarded during a second draw about two weeks later, open to only those applicants not selected during the first draw.

Infowww.mdwfp.com/wildlife-hunting/alligator-program.aspx

Georgia

Season: Aug. 14-Oct. 5

License Fees: Hunting licenses are $15 for residents and $100 for non-residents. Permits are $75 for residents and $250 for non-residents. Application deadline is July 15.

Georgia is home to more than 250,000 alligators, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Alligators must  be captured and secured via a restraining line before being dispatched. Baited hooks are prohibiited but you can use snatch hooks or wire snares to snag a gator. For dispatching the animal, it’s handguns, bang sticks or archery gear only.

Hunters are allowed a bag limit of one alligator and, depending on the zone, it must meet a certain size restriction. For most zones the size limit is 48 inches. In Zone 1A, the minimum is at least 96 inches.

With just 1,000 tags issued and a handful of guides in the state, this can be a tough hunt to pull off if you are not familiar with gator hunting. But it can be done with a little homework.

Info: georgiawildlife.com/hunting/alligator

South Carolina

Season: Second Saturday of September – Second Saturday of October

License Fees: South Carolina hunting license, additional $100 for an alligator permit. Non-resident fee is $200, in addition to those costs.

Hunters are selected by a preference-based computer drawing and may apply online beginning May 1 of each year. A $10 nonrefundable application fee is required to participate in the drawing. Applicants must be at least 16 years old in order to apply.

The only legal method is to secure the animal via restraining line and dispatch via handgun or bang stick. South Carolina does not allow the use of baited hooks.

Hunters participating in the Public Alligator Hunting Season may take alligators in public waters and on private land where permission is granted, but alligator hunting is prohibited on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and USFWS wildlife refuges. In addition, public alligator season permits cannot be used on lands enrolled in the Private Lands Alligator Program.

Only alligators four feet or greater in length may be killed. The hunter must tag the animal immediately with a harvest tag provided by SCDNR for any of the alligator hunting programs. This hunting season does not allow the shooting of unsecured alligators, even on private land. All alligators must be secured using approved equipment and brought boat-side or onto land before they can be dispatched. While others may assist the permitted hunter, all participants (including permittee) must possess a valid South Carolina hunting license.

Infowww.dnr.sc.gov/hunting.html

Other States

Arkansas, Alabama and North Carolina have a season. In each state, the number of permits issued is small. In Arkansas, you must be a resident or hold an Arkansas Sportsman’s Lifetime Permit to apply and all successful permit applicants must attend a mandatory hunter orientation class. The same applies in Alabama. Only residents are allowed to apply for a permit that has an application process that ends in July.

After 40 years without a season, North Carolina had its first gator hunt in 2018. Twenty permits were issued to 1,800 hunters who applied. One alligator was killed that year. At this time there is no scheduled hunt listed in North Carolina.

Conclusion

Alligator hunting is a lot of fun. With a little homework you can find the hunt that is right for you. Research the different states that allow gator hunting. After you have narrowed down which state is best for you, contact guides or do further research if you are planning a DIY hunt. Success rates are high for prepared hunters.

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