Gator permit applications available Tuesday|[06/27/08]

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 27, 2008

Mississippi hunters on Tuesday can begin applying for an alligator permit, which is required to participate in the 2008 alligator hunt this fall. Alligator possession permits are limited to state residents 16 and older, and must be submitted July 1 through 15.

A $5 non-refundable fee applies, and applications may be obtained at any location that sells Mississippi hunting and fishing licenses, or by calling 1-800-5GO-HUNT. Online applications are available at

Gator hunting is legal only in two parts of Mississippi, defined as the Pearl River/Ross Barnett and Pascagoula River zones. This year’s hunt will be in the Pearl River/Ross Barnett Zone on Sept. 12-13 and Sept. 19-20. The Pascagoula River zone season will be open Sept. 26-27 and Oct. 3-4.

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Changes to this year’s hunt include new hunting hours, which are 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. Applicants will be able to apply for a specific weekend hunt this year. Each hunter may apply once for each hunting zone.

Bag limit is two gators per possession permit, with each measuring a minimum of 4 feet each and only one may exceed 7 feet.

Not everyone who applies for an alligator permit will receive one. A lottery will award 240 permits to applicants at random. Notices will be sent by mail to those who are selected for the hunt within five days of the application deadline. Those who are selected are required to participate in an alligator-hunter training course provided by the state Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks on Aug. 16 in Wade, in Jackson County on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Hunters who have taken the course are not required to take it again, but must show proof of completion. Upon successfully completing the course, drawn applicants are eligible to purchase an alligator possession permit for $100.

Residents and non-residents may participate in the hunt as “hunting assistants.” Assistants must be 16 years or older, must remain with a person who possesses a valid alligator possession permit and are required to possess a valid Alligator Hunting License ($25) and a combination hunting/fishing license.

The first gator hunting season in Mississippi was in 2005, with subsequent seasons expanding to award more permits. Fifty permits were awarded the inaugural year, with the 41 hunters who completed the mandatory training course harvesting 30 gators. Last year, 184 permits were awarded, with 173 participants harvesting 134 gators.

Raccoon season opens Tuesday

The raccoon hunting season opens Tuesday and runs through Sept. 30. The daily bag limit is one raccoon per party, per day. Raccoon may be legally hunted at night, with or without the use of a light, and with dogs. Mississippi resident raccoon hunters ages 16 to 64 are required to have a hunting license, except those who are hunting on land deeded in their own name. All non-resident hunters 16 and older must possess a Mississippi hunting license.

Arkansan wins tourney after snaring five bass

Boater Jeff Johnson of Marion, Ark., won the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division tournament on Tunica Lake on June 14, reeling in five bass weighing a total of 9 pounds, 14 ounces. He won $3,087 in prize money.

Larry McNeal of Ridgeland earned $1,816 as the co-angler winner, thanks to his catch of three bass weighing 6 pounds. Ronnie Wall of Boyle, Miss., took home the $465 Boater Division Snickers Big Bass Award for catching a 4-pound, 6-ounce bass.

Mississippi Division anglers’ next competition will be at Lake Ferguson in Greenville Sept. 6 and 7. The two-day super tournament is the division’s fifth and final event of the season, with the top 40 boaters and co-anglers of the year advancing to the Wheeler Lake Regional Championship in Decatur, Ala., to compete against the top qualifiers from three other divisions. The Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League features 28 divisions nationwide.

Fantasy fishing pays off for Florida resident

Forget fantasy football. Enterprise, Fla.-resident Terry Totten, 48, won $100,000 in the fifth tournament in the FLW Fantasy Fishing seven-tournament season.

“For anyone who hasn’t tried playing yet, it’s just like fantasy football, only with fish,” said Totten.

More than 580 participants won prizes in the fantasy fishing tournament, in which each chose 10 anglers of the 200 who participated in the tournament. They were awarded points based on their anglers’ performance on the water. More than 4,000 prizes totaling as much as $7.3 million will be awarded during the seven-tournament season.

FLW Fantasy Fishing is free to play and open to all adults ages 18 and older. Participants can log on to to register for the game, which is open until Aug. 13. Each of the seven tournaments awards a $100,000 top prize to a fantasy angler.

The next tournament is the Chevy Open, set for July 10-13 on the Detroit River. A total of $1 million will be awarded at the end of the season to the fantasy angler with the most points throughout the seven tournaments.