Bowhunting alligator is a big game hunting activity mostly legally allowed throughout the United State’s southeastern part. You can bow hunt alligators by checking with your state’s Division of Natural Resources first for any necessary license and gator tags you need to obtain.
There are various wild animals to hunt, whether for trophy purposes or to have the thrilling experience that not everyone will have in their lifetime. Elk, bear, and moose are the most popular animals to hunt for big game seasons, yet at some locations in the United States, alligator hunting exists and is legal.
If you are after a thrilling and one-of-a-kind challenging experience in your bowhunting career or hobby, consider hunting an alligator with your bow and arrow.
Hence, you may be wondering how, why, and where you can bowhunt alligators which you can refer to below:
How do you bow hunt alligators?
Check first with your state’s local game and fish for any implemented bowhunting regulations for alligators to ensure you follow the law. Nevertheless, it would be ideal to use a compound bow with a draw weight of 30 to 70 pounds, do your hunting at night, and aim for its back or body for better penetration.
Bowhunting alligators can be pretty similar to large bowhunting animals. However, hunting alligators is unique and may require more from you to ensure a successful hunt.
Before anything else, check if your state legalizes bowhunting alligators. Please note that only a few states in the USA do not prohibit alligator hunting. If your state allows bowhunting alligators, the next step would be to take note of the regulations you need to follow.
For instance, some states require you to obtain license fees and apply for gator tags before you can hunt. Try checking with your state’s Division of Natural Resources to guide you on when and how to apply for legal requirements that will allow you to bowhunt alligators.
It is vital to remember that it is your responsibility as a hunter to practice the legal techniques for hunting alligators. Remember that it can cost you jail time and hefty fines if you don’t adhere to the law.
Supposed you are now clear with the law, next is to select a bow setup to use for your alligator bowhunting which is as follows:
A. Use your current bow or buy a new one.
You can use your current bow to bowhunt alligators as long as it is within the allowed draw weight by your state. Nonetheless, it is essential to note that a low-draw-weight bow will do as long as you are comfortable shooting with it.
On the other hand, 30 to 70-lb compound bows work excellently for alligator hunting.
B. Obtain additional needed equipment
Bow and arrow are just some of the equipment you need for bowhunting alligators. Equipment such as arrows with gator points, reels, or spools is necessary to ensure a successful bowhunt. For instance, you may need a spool loaded with no less than a 400 lb test line to reload quickly for a second shot.
Aside from the ones mentioned, consider using a bowfishing rest to decrease the possibility of your line catching on conventional rests. Moreover, preparing an extra gator arrow, harpoon, nylon string, and bang stick is advisable.
Now that you have all the right equipment ensure that you practice your shots as much as possible since most are in feet and not yards considering that the arrow rapidly loses speed because of its heavier weight.
Another distinctive method when bowhunting alligators, as opposed to land animals, is that you would likely cruise around on an airboat or flat-bottom boat as you look for alligators to hunt.
Once you spot the alligator, the scenario would be that you’ll harpoon it using your bow, pull the alligator, and use a broadhead or bang stick to finish off the animal.
It may sound easy, but there’s a hunting procedure you may want to follow before shooting on impulse:
- Spot the alligator using a q-beam
- Shot placement
- Dispatching the alligator
If you are a beginner in bowhunting alligators, it is advisable to have a guide or someone with experience using a q-beam to spot the alligator’s eyes. You can tell an alligator’s size by the separation between its eyes.
Let’s say that the distance between the alligator’s eyes is 10 inches; then, the alligator will likely be 10 feet long in overall size. Therefore, the bigger the distance between their eyes, the larger they are.
Most alligators that are male reach up to the 10-foot mark, while female alligators rarely do.
If you are now determined to hunt the alligator you spotted, it would be wise to shoot the animal on its back for an ethical and instant kill. Aim for the back of its skull, which is above its spine.
You can achieve this shot if the alligator is facing away and you are following behind it. Furthermore, make sure that you are in an elevated position as you shoot the alligator to ensure good penetration.
Remember to avoid shooting the alligator in the head. However, if you can’t achieve the ideal angle, you can opt for a broadside, quartering, or quartering-away shot placement.
When bowhunting an alligator, you will use a heavy arrow with a harpoon or broadhead on its end tied to a buoy with a long nylon string attached. An entangled string will disrupt the success of your bowhunt and will lead to complex situations.
That’s why it is vital to keep the string intact, primarily when you draw the bow.
Once you hit the alligator successfully, it will swim off, taking the long line of nylon and the buoy attached. Follow the buoy as you let the alligator swim off.
You can start pulling the alligator in the boat once you are sure it is dead but make sure to tape its mouth with electrical tape first. Other than broadhead, other hunters use a bang stick or knife to dispatch a tethered alligator.
Here are a few tips you need to take note of when bowhunting alligators:
- Hunting at night is ideal, or you can hunt during the day to avoid heavier pressure on alligators.
- Be patient since it could take hours to spot them and place a perfect shot.
- Look for areas where there are fewer hunters.
- Like other wild animals, alligators have a keen sense of hearing and eyesight.
- Go with a guide or someone with experience in bowhunting alligators.
- Always pay attention to the alligator’s position and aim accordingly.
- Stay out of the q-beam light to avoid interrupting the light casting upon the alligator. There’s a chance that the alligator will spot you instead and swim away.
If you are a beginner in bowhunting alligators, it can be quite a nerve-wracking activity fueled with thrill and excitement. Like any hunting game or hobby, follow your state’s regulations to avoid legal trouble.
Why do people hunt for alligators?
People hunt alligators for a variety of reasons. Some hunt them for their meat and skin as a critical ingredient in Southern cuisine or to use in manufacturing bags and belts. Meanwhile, some hunt alligators for the sheer excitement and unique challenge you can’t find in other big hunting games.
Since 1987, numerous conservation efforts have removed American Alligators from the endangered species list. Thus, you can notice that there are some states in the USA that legalize hunting them.
However, you may wonder why people hunt for alligators and whether you have the same objective as others. In some states, bowhunting alligators is an activity that takes place in certain seasons, similar to elk hunting, deer hunting, and so on.
It is essential to note that hunting alligators have challenges you will never experience in other hunting games. As a result, several bowhunters sign up for the seasonal alligator bowhunting season to experience the hunting thrill like no other.
Aside from the hunting games, people hunt alligators for their valuable meat and skin. Some alligator parts are edible and even a part of Southern cuisine. Hermes, among other brands, manufactures alligator skins for bags.
On the other hand, other brands also use alligator skin to manufacture saddles, boots, and belts.
Where is the best place to hunt alligators?
You can hunt alligators in most Southern states, such as Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama. The best place to hunt alligators is the one that is accessible and affordable for you since fees vary from state to state.
As hunters, you can only hunt alligators if you secure the proper permit, license, and other necessary documents that will allow you to hunt them legally. Thus, the first step will be determining which states legalize alligator hunting.
Here are the following Southern states in the United States where you can hunt alligators:
If you plan to hunt alligators in Florida, you need to secure a permit which you can begin to apply mid-May. Moreover, the state also requires you to pay license fees, wherein non-residents will likely have to pay more than residents.
You’ll face additional expenses if you plan to hire a guide to aid you during your hunt. Hence, alligator hunting in Florida can be expensive compared to other states.
Most of the time, alligator hunting in Florida takes place at night until the morning, with a limit of two alligators per person. You can also use the following popular hunting methods:
- Vertical bows
Also, hunters can hunt wild alligators on private lands in Florida.
In Louisiana, the fees are pretty cheap, but Louisiana Wildlife Fisheries only issues alligator tags to hunters who own their land or those with permission to hunt someone else’s.
Archery gear, firearms, and hook and line are weapons you can use here to hunt alligators, but it is illegal to shoot them when swimming. In addition, they permit only one alligator per tag.
For those wanting to hunt alligators in Texas, the license you need to acquire is the same as when entering a deer hunting game. Here are the following things to know if you plan to hunt alligators in Texas:
- Affordable compared to other states with higher amounts imposed on non-residents
- There are separate hunting seasons for core and non-core areas
- Those who hunt in the non-core areas have a bag limit of one alligator for every person per license year
- You can only use one method at a time
- Alligators captured on a taking device such as a line set, gig, snare, or lawful archery equipment need immediate kill
They rarely give out a lot of alligator permits in Mississippi, and you are lucky enough if you get drawn. The weapons allowed here are only:
- Bowfishing equipment
- Snatch hooks
You can only use bang sticks and shotguns to dispatch alligators. Furthermore, they imposed a minimum size limit of not less than four feet. The season bag limit in Mississippi is only two and better yet, book a guide as soon as you get drawn since they fill up quickly.
There are over 250,000 alligators in Georgia, and the license fee is one of the cheapest. If you plan to hunt alligators here, you must know that using baited hooks is illegal.
Additionally, you must capture and secure the alligator using a restraining line before despatching it. You can use archery gear, bang sticks, or handguns to dispatch the animal.
Only one alligator per bag should meet the size restriction in each zone. For instance, zone 1A requires a minimum size of at least 96 inches.
In South Carolina, they select hunters thru a preference-based computer drawing method. You can apply online starting May 1 of every year. They do not entertain applicants with ages lower than 16.
In dispatching an alligator, you do it via a bang stick or handgun. The state prohibits baited hooks and only allows restraining lines to secure the animal. Moreover, hunters can hunt alligators over four feet.
Other states, such as Alabama, Arkansas, and North Carolina, have a separate alligator hunting season with only a few permits issued. For instance, you must be a resident of Alabama and Arkansas to apply for a license.
Therefore, it is advisable to thoroughly check with your state if there are any updates in the alligator hunting regulations before proceeding so you can manage your expectations and start with your preparations.
The best place to hunt alligators depends on your budget and accessibility. It would be best to find a state where hunting alligators are legal and within your budget.
Bowhunting alligators are less widely known and practiced than deer hunting. However, it draws hunters from different places to accept and experience the challenge it offers because of the limited areas where hunting them is legal.
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