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This is my first year that I've received alligator tags. I've searched around, and figured this would be the best place to see if I can get some expert advice or see if there's anything I need to know before I go out there when the season opens. My friends and I are planning on using our frogging trips as a means to scout for some good sized alligators. Thanks!
Gator hunting

I'll be happy to answer your questions best I can.

**NOTE: This is for the Lottery Alligator hunts. The rules are likely different if you have private land tags.

1. You can put out twice as many lines as you have tags. i.e. 3 tags, put out 6 lines. 2 tags left, put out 4 lines, 1 tag, 2 lines.

2. The height of the bait will help determine the size of the gator you can catch. I started off putting mine about 24' above the water. I caught a 10' on the first day. I also caught a 6' on one of my lower lines. I didn't fill my third tag because I kept my remaining 2 baits high trying to catch a 12 footer we had seen several times. I probably could have lowered the bait and caught a smaller one if I wanted.

You must keep and tag whatever you catch so if it's only a 3 footer-it's yours.

3.If available, you can tie off the line to a tree or sink a long willow pole or even a 2x4. The bait is then suspended over the water by clipping with a clothes pin hanging from a limb, stick or piece of PVC pipe. The gator will pull the bait out of the clip and swallow it and get hooked in the stomach. I used about 30' of heavy twine and a large hook. I bought the twine and hooks at Gus's Tackle in Slidell.

4.The law says you can only catch them on the lines and then shoot to kill them. Shooting them while free swimming is not allowed. (Also, they will sink if shot and you probably won't find them)

5. The market for gators last year was very poor and will probably be the same or worse this year. I didn't sell mine. I skinned them out myself for the meat and kept the hides to get tanned. I'm a taxidermist so I did it myself. They tell you at the mandatory lottery class that if you think you will make money, you should really just forget it. For me it was about the experience and the excitement.

6. If you end up catching more gators than you have tags for, they ask you to look for other gator hunters and offer to give the gator to them. If not, you cannot keep it and must cut it loose even though it will likely die.

The gators will generally stay in a home area. Riding at night and looking is a good way to locate one. Also large 'slides' on the bank where they lay and enter the water is also a good place. I saw my big one riding around during the day on the weekend before. I set and caught him in the exact spot.
If you have a lot of small gators, you want to keep the bait high enough to keep from catching a small one. I used chicken leg quarters and set my lines in the afternoon/evening and checked them the next morning. You can leave the bait if not eaten up by bugs or too dried out from the sun.

In addition to the recreational lottery tags, most WMA's also have some commercial hunters that get to hunt there. I've heard some stories of cut lines, etc. so I recommend trying to find an area that no one else is using.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you need anything else.
how can you get tags? i hear you have to own land to get them.
The LDWF holds a lottery drawing for several WMA's and lakes across the state. You have to pay $5.00 to enter the drawing and if picked, the three tags you get cost $120 and you have to buy a $25 license. The lottery has already been done this year. Look for it next year in July.
Thank you!
Thanks Chris, this is great information and extremely helpful. The tags that I received are from the lottery hunt. I really wanted to put in when I found out about it mainly for the same reasons you did. Plus who can turn down a chance at harvesting your own alligator meat?

My friend was curious if it was possible to go out during the day and actually snag the gator that you see by dragging a weighted hook across them, or is that illegal? After typing that it sounds like it I suppose I will get much more info on methods of take at the scheduled meeting that they're holding for us.

I did some reading and heard that if you soak the chicken quarters in a bucket for a day with some fish guts it makes it into an irresistable alligator treat. I'll probably do a test during the season and see if I get more bites on the fish-pickled chicken over the regular stuff.
I have fished alligators all my live and have never 'pickled' chicken. We used to raise some chickens for the use of bait. Kill them and put them on fresh and did extremely well, would catch our 82 alligators in a week. Beef melt works very good too.

Hey Chris, I got picked for the lottery on Pearl River WMA. I live in Slidell. I had planned on skinning the gators myself but don't know who to bring hides to to get tanned. Is this something you can do or do you or anybody else out there have a recommendation of where to take them to get tanned. Thanks.
manvwild: You cannot snag them or shoot them while free-swimming. The only legal way is by setting the hook lines. You'll get all the info at the required meeting.

loupgarou: I don't do any tanning. I skin out my own hides. I've never had good success with it and always send out any tanning work to professional tanneries. I also send my heads to a place that uses the dermistid beetles to clean the skulls. Neither of these services are cheap, but the work is museum quality.

I'll be at the meeting next week (Thursday 8-12-10) maybe I'll see you there.

if anyone has tags i was over seas and could not apply in time but i have all the gear the poles the bang stick and 2 bows rigged and a boat to persue them hit me an email if anyone has tags and looking for someone to take out or just to go along
Good info
Like mr chris said higher bait bigger gator.I know it's nice for a big one it's hard to beat taste of the smaller ones. U use to be able to make a litte xtra hunting money but farm raised gators did the same as imported crawfish drop the bottom out.also one thing I found it might be coincidence but my larger ones came off runs off main lake or marsh runs.good luck and happy hunting