BEAUMONT - Harlon Hatcher knows how to grapple with gators. He’s hunted them since 1984, and will make sure nothing goes to waste.
“I sell some of them whole, skin some, meat, I eat the meat. I’m not a trophy guy, I do it for a living,” Hatcher said as he prepares for the upcoming core hunting season.
A hook and line is his preferred trapping tool, but hand-held snares, guns and bows are allowed by the state.
Here are other guidelines from TPWD:
- Hook and line (line set). Line sets must be secured on private property. Hook-bearing lines may not be set prior to the open season and shall be removed no later than sunset on the last day of the season. Each baited line shall be labeled with a plainly visible, permanent, and legibly marked gear tag that contains the full name and current address of the person who set the line and the hunting license number of the person who set the line. Line sets shall be inspected daily and alligators shall be killed, documented, and removed immediately upon discovery.
- Alligator gig
- Hand-held snare with integral locking mechanism
- Lawful archery equipment (with barbed arrow)
- Lawful firearms. IMPORTANT NOTICE: In core counties, firearms may be used only to dispatch alligators that have already been taken with a lawful taking device. In all other counties, firearms may be used to take alligators, but only on private property. IT IS UNLAWFUL TO TAKE AN ALLIGATOR BY MEANS OF FIREARMS FROM, IN, ON, ACROSS OR OVER PUBLIC WATER. Centerfire ONLY; rimfire UNLAWFUL, except for dispatch.
- An alligator captured on a taking device (line set, lawful archery equipment, gig, or snare) must be killed immediately. An alligator, in public water, caught on a taking device lawfully attached to private property, may be dispatched with a firearm.
- No person may employ more than one taking device at any time.
- A line of at least 300 pound test must be securely attached to all taking devices other than firearms.
- Hook-bearing lines must be attached to a stationary object, on private property, capable of maintaining a portion of the line above water when an alligator is caught on the line.
- A line attached to an arrow, snare, or gig must have a float attached to the line. The float shall be no less than 6" x 6" x 8" or, if the float is spherical, no less than 8 inches in diameter.
Hatcher hunts to kill, and has a mountain of experience. Gary Saurage does too, and at his Gator Country he offered some advice.
“You need to make sure that after you take that shot, that animal is dead. You put him in the boat and he’s not dead you better have a good wrestling game,” he exclaimed.
“Understand this, there is a possibility as well, that bullet could ricochet off that alligator’s skull. So, you really got to pay attention to what you’re doing. A lot of small things can go wrong really fast,” Saurage explained.
But it won’t be a problem for a seasoned pro.
“Kinfolks have done it for years back, I don’t know, it’s just in your blood. September is my month,” Hatcher said.
It’s a month to capture, and kill, these magnificent monsters.
Hunting season will start on Saturday and end on September 30th. Hunters can set their lines any time from a half hour before sunrise to sunset.
Here are some other helpful guidelines set forth by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
“In Angelina, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Matagorda, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Refugio, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Trinity, Tyler, and Victoria counties ("core" counties), and on properties in other counties for which Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has issued CITES tags to the landowner, the open season for alligators is September 10 - 30. In core counties and on special properties, no person may hunt an alligator without possessing a valid CITES tag on their person. CITES tags in these counties are issued to landowners following a site inspection and evaluation by TPWD. For information about tag issuance and requirements, contact the Alligator Program at (409) 736-3625.”
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