There are several techniques for hunting and harvesting American alligator. Though these techniques have proven effective in alligator harvests, keep in mind that an element of danger is always involved when alligator hunting. The techniques, equipment and practices described below are provide practical techniques for hunting wild alligator.
Legal methods for gator hunting will vary from state to state, so become familar with legal methods for your state first. Some states allow hunting at night. It’s important to keep in mind that alligators are regularly hunted after dark, when they are most active. Alligators can be located at night by their reflective eyeshine, which gives off a red glow. Alligators should be approached quietly, keeping the beam of the spotlight directly on or just above their eyes. One you get within “range” of an alligator, there are many ways to capture the animal for take.
Snares: Wire snares attached to a restraining line that is loosely mounted (using a small rubber band or piece of tape) to the end of a pole are most commonly used to secure the alligator once it has been harpooned or snagged and brought under control near the boat. Snares also may be used as an initial capture technique. Snares must be hand-held or attached to a hand-held device and cannot be left unattended.
Harpoons and Gigs: Harpoons or gigs may be used for attaching a restraining line to an alligator. Harpoons or gigs consist of a penetrating point such as a straightened fish hook, detachable dart, fish gig or spear point that is attached to a restraining line. The harpoon point is typically mounted on a pole, arrow shaft or spear and is thrown. A gig (a pronged instrument with a metal or wooden pole) is jabbed.
Snatch Hooks: Snatch hooks may be used to attach a restraining line to an alligator. A snatch hook is a weighted treble hook that is attached to a restraining line. The hook is either hand-held or used in conjunction with a long, stout fishing rod and reel and heavy line. The hook typically is cast over the alligator or over the area where it last submerged. The hook is then retrieved until it makes contact with the alligator, at which point it is set with a strong pull. The line should be kept tight until the animal tires, as the hook often falls out of the alligator if the line is allowed to go slack.
Baited Hook: This method is essentially fishing for alligators. Though hooks are set during the day, they are intended to capture alligators overnight. This involves suspending a baited hook above the water and then checking the line each day. Sets are typically created with an anchor, a long cane pole, rope, a leader, a rubber band, and a large hook. The best bait is rotten chicken.
Bangsticks: Bangsticks are common alligator hunting equipment and are a safe and effective tools for humanely killing gators. Bangsticks or power heads, typically used by divers to kill fish, discharge a firearm cartridge upon contact. For a humane kill, the shot should be centered immediately behind the skull cap and angled toward the brain. It is recommended that the bangstick be used in compliance with the manufacturer’s safety recommendations. When killing an alligator, the bangstick should be discharged below the waterline to reduce the potential for aerial dispersal of bullet and bone fragments. Keep in mind that to legally dispatch an alligator using a bangstick, the animal must be attached to a restraining line using methods such as those previously described.
Guns: The previous methods include capturing an alligator on line and then dispatching it with either a bangstick or a gun. Although this is commonly how alligators are hunted and harvested, some states, such as Florida, allow free-swimming alligators to be harvested on private lands. Although most firearms are capable of dispatching alligators, they are all dependent upon the skill of the user.
In closing, alligator hunting can be dangerous. Not only becaue of the alligators, but because of the inherent hazards boats, hooks, knives, guns, and slippery boat decks. Hunters should be aware that many alligator hunters have been bitten and some even seriously injured. Use extreme caution when handling alligators, but just be careful in general.