Swamp People is gearing up for another season after a successful two-season run. This season, contenders will be cast off again in the largest swamp in the United States, which is a combination of wetland and river delta. The Atchafalaya Basin Swamp in Louisiana will serve as home for 20 new contenders who hunt American alligators for a livelihood.
American alligator, also referred to as gator, is a reptile pervasively found in Southeastern United States like Florida, Georgia and Louisiana. Aside from the Chinese alligators, they are one of the two known species of alligator left in existence. This is the reason why alligator hunting is stringently regulated in all concerned states.
The American alligator can weigh anywhere between 300 to 800 pounds and would approximately measure 10 feet long. Gators are generally sluggish on land but they can move really swiftly in and underwater. The tail, which aids in its aquatic mobility, also acts as a defensive weapon in the event of an attack. In fact, the gator’s tail is so powerful that that it can knock over a grown man and effectively break their bones.
An American alligator typically has five claws on its front limbs and four on its hind limbs. They are also known to have the fiercest bite, measuring approximately 9,500 newtons, among any other living animals. These bites can cause severe skin mutilation and it posed a significant threat to infection despite immediate medical attention.
Alligators are more than capable of killing humans but they don’t generally see us as a potential prey. However, alligators are protective towards their offspring and would normally assault those who present a threat or come too close.
All this probably adds to the excitement of alligator hunting. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries strictly control the alligator hunting in the Atchafalaya Basin Swamp. The hunting season starts the first Wednesday of September and last for only 30 days and only licensed hunters are allowed to participate in this sport.
For the faint hearted, you may opt to join swamp tours wherein you can get up close and personal with the animals of the bayou without the terror. Some even offer guided gator hunts, for Swamp People fanatics, to provide you the same adrenalin pumping experience without the hazards.
For the thrill seekers, swamp tours might not be exciting enough and hunting gators might sound more enticing but it is far different from hunting other animals. Since this is strictly regulated, you need to comply with specific protocols that apply for gator hunting in specific states. Normally, most states require licenses or some sort of permits before you can hunt on either private or public properties. It is also advisable to utilize equipment or weapon authorized by these regulating bodies.
It is vital to be prepared above all prior to heading off to your alligator hunting expedition. Most seasoned gator hunter would suggest that aspiring gator hunters equip themselves with the following basic necessities-
• Hands free lighting
• Harpoon pole set with driver, line, float and dart
• Electrical tape
Once you have assembled your gator hunting kit, you need to arm yourself with a map to mark out legal hunting grounds. You need to also equip yourself with alligator tags. These tags are obtained through submitting an application with local state regulating offices. A hunter is allowed roughly the same number of tags he obtained last year unless they failed to maximize it and in which case, they will get less.
Tags are put on an alligator, regardless of its size, to indicate ownership and accountability. This also serves as a way for the regulating bodies to track the gator population in their areas of responsibility.
Gators are typically hunted for their meat and hide. An average catch is valued at around $10 per foot and for an average gator measuring 10 feet long, it can earn the hunter $100 on the hide alone. On an average 30-day gator hunting season, an average hunter can rake in $20,000 gross sales on the gator hide which makes this a lucrative short term endeavor. However, for most gator hunters, they consider it a way of life instead of a source of income.
Seasoned gator hunters would say that hunting is easier than it looks. They shared further that the secret lies in locating the gator and implementing effective restraining techniques. A harpoon normally works regardless of the size of the gator however; a harpoon improvised with a line and pole would allow you to retrieve any gator no matter the situation.
It is also recommended to do most of your hunting at night when the gators are more active and mobile. In this instance, a hands-free light would give you sufficient visibility without sacrificing the use of your hands to capture that untamed beast.
A bangstick, or a powerhead, is a type of weapon typically used underwater, which is launched when one is in direct contact with the intended target. This allows for a safe and humane method to tame the gator as opposed to a handgun or a rifle. The recoil and sound from a gun can be intense and this could result in an aggravated alligator attacking your group.
In using the bangstick, ensure that the gator has exhausted all of its energy and take your aim behind its head. You’ll see blood and eventually, you can use the gaff and hook the gator under its jaw. However, do not attempt to gaff a gator that’s still alive but instead take another aim with the bangstick again.
For a novice hunter, you might want to pin his eyes to the ship’s gunnel and secure its mouth shut with an electric tape. You can then proceed to cut its spine with a knife just behind the bulge of its head near the soft spot on the neck. This will let you slice through the hide and meat and down to the bone.
Next, find the gap in the vertebrae and drive your knife through it until get a quick reflex and blood flow from your gator. This will guarantee your gator will not come back to life and you can proceed to affix your tag around six inches from the tip of its tail.
You need to remember to bring anti-bacterial cleaning solutions to treat any cuts and scrapes as alligators have vicious bacteria that can cause potentially fatal infections.
You can catch more of the actual action on History channel when Swamp People season 3 airs. Not only will you get to enjoy your very own virtual swamp tours of the Louisiana wetlands at the comfort of your own home but you’ll get to see an actual gator hunt!