Alabama: visit http://www.OutDoorAlabama.com
A random drawing is conducted for residents 16 years and older. The hunt areas are the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta (125 tags) in South west Alabama and the Chatahoochee River’s Lake Eufalua counties (60 tags) in the Southeast. The season for the Mobile-Tensaw Delta is August 14-16 and 21-23. For the Lake Eufaula counties, season dates are August 21-31, with sunset to sunrise as legal hunting times for all areas. Applications for residents only ($6.00) will be accepted starting June 1 with a deadline of July 13. The selection process occurs immediately after the close of the application window.
Required licenses are an alligator possession permit and a hunting license. Training class is mandatory for hunters selected. Both hunting areas hold good numbers of trophy class gators. Minimum legal size is 6 feet. Baiting is not allowed.
State record: 12' 10" Mobile Delta
Arkansas: visit http://www.agfc.com/huntingseasons
Arkansas’ program began in 2007 and has a lottery drawing for it’s 40 resident only tags (non- residents may hunt with a selected resident). Hunt zones are the Southeast and Southwest portions of the state. The application period for hunters 16 and older is June 1-30, with the drawing conducted in early July. A training class is mandatory. Success rate is about 80% of permitted hunters. An Arkansas hunting license is required for all participating..
Legal hours are ½ hour after sunset to ½ hour before sunrise. The season dates are the last two weekends in September. Minimum legal size is 4 feet. Snatch hooks are not legal to use as a locating/restraining devise and baiting is prohibited.
As an interesting side note, Arkansas is the only state to offer limited public access hunting of both alligator and elk.
State record: 12' 8", 550lbs
Georgia will issue approximately 700 tags to hunters over the age of 12 for 8 zones across the southern & eastern portion of the state. The season opens the first weekend in September and continues through the first weekend of October. Legal hunting may take place around the clock during the open season. Hunters not selected will receive a priority point for use in future alligator quota drawings.
The application deadline is July 31. Opportunities are open to both residents and non residents. Selected hunters must purchase an alligator hunting permit ($50-$200) and posses a valid Georgia hunting license. All persons participating in the hunt or onboard the hunt vessel must also posses a gator hunting permit and hunting license. Training seminar attendance is not mandatory but strongly suggested. Minimum legal size is 4 feet and baiting is prohibited.
The 2003 season was the first year of the public program. Now in it’s 7th season, there are good numbers of trophy class gators in the state. Additionally, Georgia is very friendly and reasonable to non-residents as fees are appropriately priced and the rules of harvest are very hunter friendly.
State record: 13' 7", zone 3, Lake Blackshere
Florida: visit http://MyFWC.com/gators
Since it’s inception in 1988, Florida’s public waters alligator program has evolved from a commercial harvest to a fair chase sporthunt. Two tags are issued on each permit (resident $272.00/ non resident $1,020.00) with more than 4,000 permits available for hunters age 18 or older. Each hunter may have assistants who posses a $50 agent’s license (there is no age limits for assistants). The application period for the random drawing is June 1-15. Permits will be drawn by June 18 with payment due before June 30.
There are many Alligator Management Units (AMU) across the state, composed of either defined wetlands or by county wide permit. One is assigned to each selected hunter. It’s strongly advised to research the AMUs before you select one, as terrain and hunting methods vary greatly across the state. Training seminars are not mandatory but are strongly suggested as the rules are numerous. You may also want to consider hiring a knowledgeable US Coast Guard licensed guide to assist you in successfully chasing and harvesting your gator; both for safety and knowledge of the numerous regulations.
The season starts at one hour before sunset on August 15 and continues until one hour after sunrise on November 1. Legal hours are one hour before sunset to one hour after sunrise each day. Minimum harvest size is 18 inches. Average harvest size is 8.5 feet, with a successful harvest rate of 70% of tags issued. Baiting is legal but the bait must be secured to a line via a 2 inch wooden peg. Further, the bait line must either be attended by the hunter with line in hand or tied off to the boat. Fishing lures are also legal. A private lands program is available for suitable land holders.
State record: 14' 5/8" Lake Monroe
Mississippi: visit http://www.mdwfp.com/Level2/Wildlife/Game/Alligator/
2009 will be Mississippi’s 5th public season. Many records fell during the 2008 season as Mississippians have become astute gator hunters! The rules for 2009 should be finalized by June but no changes are expected from 2008. The open areas are the Pearl River/Ross Barnett zone near Jackson, and the Pascagoula River zone in the Southern part of the state.
Mississippi residents 16 years or older may apply for an estimated 240 permits, which allow for the harvest of two gators over 4 feet, with one gator allowed to exceed 7 feet. An alligator hunting license ($25.00) and an alligator possession permit ($100.00), plus a Mississippi hunting license are required. Training seminars are mandatory. Hunting assistants over 16 years of age must posses an alligator hunting license and a Mississippi all game license. (Assistants may be non-residents) No baiting. Private lands tags are available for landowners.
Application for the random drawing is June 1-15 and the application fee is $5.00. Legal hunting hours are 6 pm to 4 am daily. The tentative season is the weekends of September 11-12, 18-19, 25-26 and October 2-3.
State record: 13' 6 ½", 633 lbs., Pascagoula River
South Carolina: visit http://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/alligator/
In 2008, South Carolina conducted their first modern public access alligator harvest. The lower half of the state had four harvest zones, with zones 2 & 3 producing exceptional results. Nearly 800 tags were issued with almost 400 tags filled by a 9 foot average. Noteworthy is that 11 alligators over 13 feet in length were harvested!
South Carolina has one of the best programs going. They have an abundance of big, dumb gators and reasonable access for all participants. Expect close to 1,000 permits to be available by random drawing for 2009 for hunters 16 years and older. Random drawing fees are $10 per applicant. Priority points are offered for those not selected. Permits are $100 for residents and non residents alike and requires all persons to posses a SC hunting license. Application period is projected to be May 1 to June 15 with selection projected to occur by July 1. Training seminars are not mandatory but strongly suggested. Rules and harvest methods are very similar to Georgia. Season opens September 12 and is open around the clock until October 10. Legal harvest size is 4 feet or greater. No baiting. Private land tags available for landowners.
State record: 13' 7" Lake Marion
Texas’ program differs from other states as their legal hours are daylight from ½ hour before sunrise to sunset. There is a random drawing with a fee of $3.00 for application for either residents or non residents 8 years or older. Approximately 250 permits will be available. Application period is late June to August 1 with preference points awarded to those not selected. Selected hunters must purchase a gator hunt permit ($75-$125) and posses a Texas hunting license.
Texas has two areas with different season dates. In the "Core Counties" of east Texas, the season is September 10-30. In "Non-Core" areas, the season runs April 1 to June 30. Baited set hook is legal. Predominate method of harvest is archery rigged for gators with a line & float or a hand held snare. Average size harvested is 8 feet with a success rate around 50%. Private land opportunities are available with different rules.
Georgia Guide to Gator Hunting
Florida Alligator Harvest Training and Orientation Manual
Mississippi Guide to Alligator Hunting
South Carolina Alligator Hunting Guide
2008 SC Gator Season report
Texas: Rules, Regulations an general information
Appreciation goes to Ricky Chastain of the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, Steve Stiegler of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Ricky Flynt of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks and David Hayden of the Alabama Department of Conservation for their assistance to this article. Edited by Chuck Echenrique of Rebel Yelp turkey calls.