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Alligator Tags Available



Pete Rogers with his South Carolina Alligator


Hunters wanting to pursue alligators in South Carolina have only twelve days to register for a limited draw tag. South Carolina’s alligator tag application process is an online only application (http://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/alligator/index.html) for $10.00 registration fee applicants give themselves a chance for an alligator during the fall season.

Applicants are vying for one of the 1200 limited tags that afford them the opportunity to hunt and take one alligator in one of four game zones. At registration, hunters choose their zone preference however there is no guarantee they will draw the zone they listed as first choice. Jay Butfiloski, furbearer and alligator project manager for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources says “the drawing is strictly a random computer generated drawing from all applicants.” This is indeed the case. My personal experience shows that while some applicants have been drawn for several consecutive years it took me three years of applying before I drew my first tag. However successful resident applicants must purchase a $100 tag to hunt alligators. Non Residents fees are more, check the DNR website for more information for non-resident hunters.

The SCDNR is great about providing excellent information and statistics to assist hunters to choosing the zone of choice. See the link for more information.          http://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/alligator/pdf/publicalligatorharvestform.pdf

With the popularity of the television show Swamp People alligator hunting has really gained momentum. Hunters in South Carolina however must use entirely different methods than those shown on the television show. Hunters are prevented from using baited hooks, or leaving unattended hooks.

Legal methods of take include; snatch hooks, harpoon, and archery equipment which includes cross bows and hand drawn bows. Butfiloski says that by far the most popular method is the snatch hook. “virtually all hunters have a rod and reel, this makes using snatch hooks more practical. They don’t have to go and purchase special equipment to hunt alligators.” After catching the alligator, it must be restrained and subdued prior to dispatch. Handguns and bang-sticks are the only legal weapons for dispatch.

Snatch hooks and Archery tackle are the most common methods of take

“The reason for requiring the restraining of the alligator prior to dispatch” Butfiloski says, is to prevent hunters from shooting across open water. “we don’t want hunters firing bullets across open water at basking or swimming alligators.” Recognizing that bullets do indeed ricochet off of water, and wounded alligators are difficult to recover.

For the outdoorsman, alligator hunting is extremely different than anything I had ever done. Trolling along likely waters looking for basking or swimming alligators is so far from my norm, it took several hours to learn what to look for. Hunting alligators can be done day or night, with some hunters preferring to only hunt at night, while others only prefer the daylight. My limited experience showed no significant difference in the sightings, however we could get a lot closer during the darker hours. However, even with the use of a GPS, following unfamiliar channels and rivers in the dark is a  challenge and more than once we spent quite a bit of time confused.

If you are hunting in an unfamiliar zone, I would recommend spending several hours scouting during the daylight prior to the sun dropping. We found several alligators we couldn’t get on during the daylight that we were able to find again after dark.

The areas with the most alligators also have the most hunters, be prepared to share your area and be respectful of others. My experience of alligator hunting was excellent. Having done it once, I can say I will not miss a season of applying for my tag. While hunters can legally harvest any alligator four feet or larger, my recommendation would be to search for a larger one if time allows. A four to six foot alligator is about thirty to seventy pounds, they are not very large at all.

Beside the memory, the meat of the alligator is tasty and quite good. There is also the trophy. Some hunters will sell their hides, while others tan them and preserve them. I opted for a European skull mount.

The deadline to apply is June 15, don’t miss this opportunity to chase dinosaurs.