Alligator hunting season opens, helps keep population under control

SPANISH FORT, Ala. (WIAT) — Thursday was a big night for many sportsmen, as it was the opening of Alabama’s 10th annual alligator hunting season.

Opening night started with the final preparations on the dock and in the parking lots, getting everything ready for when the hunters hit the water at 8 p.m. Second year gator hunter Ray Farmer said this isn’t what you see on television.

“It’s a lot different.  You spend a lot of time riding. And you didn’t realize there were that many gators in the river,” said Farmer.

While the thought of hooking a big gator is what everyone on the river wants, the hunt is also just fun, especially for many families.

“It’s fun, I mean, I’ve had as much fun getting ready for it as I will once we hit the water,” said Tim Caldwell, who was a first time hunter.

But why hunt alligators in Alabama? Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources biologist Chris Nix said part of it is because we can, and it helps keep the gator populations in Alabama under control. This year, a total of 260 tags were handed out.

“We do population studies each year, and we’d seen that the population had reached a point that it could sustain a quota hunt,” said Nix.

The hunt isn’t just for adults, as there were several teens out on the water and, WIAT got the chance to talk to one who helped bring in one of the biggest gators so far.

Jon Edward, 15, and the guys in his boat fought a 12 foot 476 pound gator for about an hour.

“I was just surprised at how quickly and smoothly everything went.  I’ve been trying to get into a boat for years and I’ve heard stories of how it has lasted hours and hours,” said Edward.

The young hunter said he was looking forward to starting school back on Monday.

“I’m gonna tell exactly what happened,” said Edward. “I’m gonna tell them I got a big gator.”

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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