One of the coolest places to go alligator hunting in Texas is at the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area (WMA). This state-owned area is located near the town of Port Arthur, about 20 minutes southeast of Beaumont or 1 1/2 hours east of Houston. The WMA is big with over 30,000 acres of wetland habitat. It holds lot of ducks during the winter and lots of alligators all year long. It also has more than it’s fair share of mosquitos and deer flies.
The only way to get yourself on a gator hunting trip is through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) special draw lottery. It seems that there are usually around 100 alligator permits available each year, though it seems to fluctuate a little. Interested hunters need to submit their hunt application and the necessary fees of $3 per hunter to TPWD before August 1 each year. Selected hunters will then be notified by mail with the dates of the hunt and must submit an additional fee, which in recent years has been $80. Then your hunting permit is mailed to you.
This all happens fairly quickly since the alligator hunt applications are due in early August and the Texas gator season is September 10-30 annually. If you are lucky enough to get selected, then it’s time to get all necessary equipment together for the 24-hour hunt. Hunts typically start at noon on day 1 and end at noon on day 2. The only legal methods to harvest an alligator are by hook and line, bow and arrow or by harpoon. Most hunters go with the hook and line method, which involves suspending a bait above the water using a large can pole.
The Murphree WMA has all the cane poles you will ever need and loan them out readily, so you will not need to bring one. However, you will need a boat and the remainder of the necessary alligator hunting equipment, which is not really all that much. All you will need is a rope, hook and bait. Oh, and a strong stomach.
That’s because the best alligator bait is something really, really gross. I’m talking rotten chicken, week-old-in-a-cooler-sitting-in-the-sun NASTY!