Excitement builds for alligator season|HUNTING ’08

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 25, 2008

Warren County property owner Richard West is preparing to take part in his first ever alligator hunt — also the state’s first ever private land hunt — this weekend with a handful of friends on 6,500 acres they collectively own on Davis Island.

“We’re excited. Our wives are not really hyped up about it — they think we’re a little crazy,” the West Monroe, La., resident said. “As long as I don’t get a finger bit off it will be OK.”

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks is overseeing the state’s inaugural private land alligator hunt in select counties beginning Friday through Oct. 4. Private tracts in Warren, Issaquena, Yazoo, Hinds, Holmes, Madison and Rankin counties are eligible for the one-week harvest, and MDWFP Alligator Program Coordinator Ricky Flynt said hunters are registered in all seven counties.

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“We had 16 property owners apply across the seven counties, and of the 49 available permits we sold 43,” said Flynt. “We didn’t know how much interest there would be, but we’re satisfied with the turnout.”

Flynt said this year’s private land hunt is being held as a pilot season of sorts, and will likely expand next year.

“It’s a whole new process for us, so we wanted to start with a conservative approach, see how things go, re-evaluate what worked and what didn’t and then try to expand it next season,” he said.

The first alligator hunting season on public waters in Mississippi took place in 2005, and it has been expanded each year since to award more permits and include more eligible waters. 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. Alligator hunting on public land is legal only in two parts of Mississippi, defined as the Pearl River/Ross Barnett and Pascagoula River zones. The Pearl River/Ross Barnett Zone held its hunts on Sept. 12-13 and Sept. 19-20. The Pascagoula River zone season will be open this weekend and Oct. 3-4.

Private alligator hunting is legal in the following counties: Warren, Issaquena, Yazoo, Holmes, Hinds, Rankin and Madison.

The season runs from Sept. 24 to Oct. 4, 2008

To apply for an alligator license, visit:


The private-lands hunting season is different, Flynt said, in that it will allow for daytime hunting and for firearms to be used. There are actually three legal methods to harvest alligators in the private land hunt, including using deep sea fishing rods, bows and high-powered firearms. Steve Luckett, who will be participating in his first alligator hunt with friends on land near Valley Park, said he is going to use the same bow he uses for hunting deer, but with a special arrowhead for alligators.

“It’s going to be interesting, and I’m really looking forward to the challenge of it,” Luckett said. “None of the guys in our party has ever done it before, and when we learned of the private land hunt we all just thought it would be too fun to pass up.”

Landowners with a minimum of 20 acres of surface water were eligible for the state’s first private land hunt, with additional tags available for every 100 acres of surface water owned in addition to the first 20 acres. Alligators must be at least 4 feet long to be harvested. Landowners are allowed to transfer tags to resident and nonresident hunters 16 and older. The cost of each permit is $100 for residents and $200 for non-residents. Everyone participating in the hunt was required to complete a training course earlier this month at the MDWFP Central Office in Jackson.

At the training course, Luckett said the hunters were taught how to safely handle alligators and were shown a video on how to process an alligator carcass, among other things.

“That looks like it’s going to be quite a process,” he said. “The job is only about a third done when you get one on shore.”

Neither Luckett nor West said their hunting parties are decided yet on what they’ll do with the alligators if and when they catch them, but West said he would like to have some of the meat and maybe have a few belts and wallets made. 

“I think we’ll be pretty successful,” West said. “We have a lot of alligators on the property, and some pretty big ones, too. We’re not interested in anything under 8 feet.”

Most recent population estimates compiled by the MDWFP in 2000 suggest a minimum of 700 alligators are located in the roughly 36,000 acres of alligator habitat in Warren County. Issaquena and Yazoo counties are estimated to have at least 400 alligators each. Statewide, the wildlife department estimated there were about 40,000 alligators in 2000.

“I think those numbers could easily be doubled by now,” said Flynt. “We’re working on getting updated estimates. What wasn’t taken into account in 2000 was a lot of small, private lakes.”

Mississippi alligator hunting

For information on Mississippi alligator hunting, call Ricky Flynt, alligator program coordinator at (601) 432-2217

Who’s eligible: Mississippi residents who are 16 years old or older may apply for an Alligator Possession Permit  online at:


Bag limit:  Each person receiving an Alligator Possession Permit will be allowed to harvest two alligators 4 feet in length or longer, only one may exceed 7 feet in length.

Capture and Dispatch Methods:  Alligators must be captured alive prior to shooting or otherwise dispatching the animal. It is unlawful to kill an unrestrained alligator. Restrained is defined as an alligator that has a noose or snare secured around the neck or leg in a manner that the alligator is controlled.

Alligators must be dispatched or released immediately after capture. Any alligator that is captured with a harpoon or bowfishing equipment must be reduced to the bag and may not be released. Firearms used for dispatching an alligator are restricted to shotguns with shot size no larger than No. 6 and bangsticks chambered in .38 caliber or larger. All shotguns and bangsticks must be cased and unloaded at all times until a restraining line has been attached to the alligator. No other firearm or ammunition may be in possession of the permittee or hunting party.