After we "choot 'em", what do we do?

Good question.

Boats waiting to sell gators

In the previous stories, you learned how the alligators are heaved into the boat, and hopefully covered up with some kind of tarp or blanket for the ride to the landing.  From there, either by truck or by boat, it’s time to take them to the buying dock.

Offloading gators onto buying dock

Typically, the selling and buying of the gators is overseen by a representative from the company buying the animals; which is, believe it or not, usually an alligator farmer, and by someone from the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Dead gator waiting to be measured and sexed

Once the gators have been placed on the dock, they are then measured and sexed; the tag numbers are checked, and all the information is recorded by the person from LDWF.

The big gator of the 2011 opening day was 11 feet and 4 inches.  That’s a lot of watchbands, friends.

Placing gator in transport crate

The gators are then placed in a plastic crate . . .

Gators iced down

where they are iced down to preserve freshness of both meat and hide.

Crate of gators being loaded into refrigerator truck

The crate is then loaded into a refrigerator truck to be transported to the alligator farm, where the hide will be removed and salted for storage and the tail meat harvested for sale.

Now, I welcome your questions!

BW

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Comments

After we "choot 'em", what do we do? — 36 Comments

    • This reminds me of the time when I had a swim class in my backyard pool and one of the mothers came back from the front yard (I allowed observers only on the last day) and casually announced that there was a gator in my front yard (about 300 feet away) and she was concerned because the neighborhood dogs were harassing it.

      I told the kids to get out of the pool and wait till I got back, then went to see the gator. Sure enough–they weren’t kidding. So I called the licensed alligator catcher who came out and removed him.

      By that time everyone had migrated to the front yard to watch the “show.”

      The alligator catcher took advantage of the “audience” to teach the kids (and parents) all about alligators.

      Unfortunately (for wildlife) the area is a lot more built up and the only critters that come around now are the raccoons that my boy cat hangs out with at night.

      (Sue, in Slidell)

  1. BW,
    I was privileged to have a couple of “gator ” burgers last Oct. at a Shriner’s Golf function for the Shriner’s Hospitals for children in Houston. They were absolutely the best burgers I have ever eaten. The fellow cooking them said they came from Lafayette area. I love your website, cajun food, “Swamp People”, and gator burgers. Keep up your good work.

    • Great to hear from you, Bob. You are ahead of me on the gator burger idea. Hunters here are no longer allowed to skin their gators and keep meat, so we have to go pay retail for gator meat at seafood markets in town. Seems sort of redundant, doesn’t it? The gators start off here and we have to drive half an hour to buy the meat . . . . all that to say, I’m envious that you have enjoyed a gator burger and I have not. BUT, I guess it better go on the list of recipes soon, right? Can you tell me more about color, flavor, consistency? Thanks again!
      BW

      • BW,
        the burgers were already made-up with veggies and some seasonings in meat. They were grilled and the fellow said to make sure they were done. I pressed him for more info (because they were soooo good )and they were made in Scott, La. by Farm Pride.
        In my heart, alligator meat products are about to go the same route as crawfish–straight up thru the roof in price. I see one source has dropped them from listings at present. I knew I should have ordered them a few months back. 😉
        Please do your magic and come up with one of your great recipe creations for alligator burgers.

    • I have followed them in the past, and photographed the process, which is not a pretty sight at all. And the smells, oh never mind about the smell. Not a nice olfactory memory! They are taken to the processor, skinned, and separated. The head and claws are set aside to sell for those who turn them into souvenirs. If the head is damaged, then the teeth are extracted and used in bobbles and doo dads, key chains and such. The hides, are of course, salted and stored in cold storage and then shipped out of country for tanning. The tail meat is cut out and processed according to state laws, and vacuum sealed to be sold to wholesale seafood markets and grocery stores. BW

      • Definitely not a pleasant smell. We have friends who had a farm…constant temps of 90 plus degrees and 100% humidity…and that was when the gators were alive. Dressing out an animal reeks. Ask any hunter.

        Off topic…Will Tropical Storm Lee force y’all to evacuate? I heard on the noon news where Grand Isle has a voluntary evacuation at this time. T.S. Allison dumped 221/2″ over a 3 day period, and it looks like T.S. Lee is going to be just as bad. We needed rain, but not this much!

        • Are you getting any rain yet, Steffi? IT has rained ALL DAY here and no sign of stopping in sight. No, we will not evacuate. We filled the gas cans for the little generator in case we lose power. But if it stays off too long, we’ll just go to Dotter’s in Houma. My house, I am so happy to say, is NOT in danger of flooding at 11 feet off the ground!!!!!

            • Stay dry. Where is the high ground for vehicles?
              Saw an 80 acre tract for sale on Du then lost on La Sportsman.
              101.5 deg here right now. Rather be wet n windy.

          • We’ve had about 3/4″ so far. With Lee moving so slow, we shouldn’t have heavy rainfall till late afternoon tomorrow, with the bad stuff on Sunday. The only nice thing about today was the temperature and no smoke from the marsh fire that’s east of New Orleans.

  2. Enjoying these articles. Much better than those they had on TV since they are much more personal.
    Gator burgers?? My husband would probably love them! He loves deep fried gator tail. One of the restaurants here serves it and on special occasions, we try to go there to eat.

    • On special occasions . . . I can definitely relate to that! Money is tight, cher! I am going to develop a recipe for gator burgers, but not fried. The meat is a nice white meat, high in protein, low in fat, and is a very good source of natural energy. I think I will grill my burgers! BW

    • Oh my blogging goodness, I LOVE THIS. Absolutely LOVE IT!!! Build a Better Burger, here we come. Okay, you figure out all the time frames, travel arrangements, logistics, and all that and let me know and I’ll get busy working on the burger. OH MY GOSH, I wonder if Bobby Flay would like to have a Gator Burger Throw Down with me one day? Dang, he had one with Pioneer Woman and she ended up with her own show on Food Network. I am about as green with envy as I can be! Okay, put down those tortilla chips, and get busy blogging!!!

        • I’m not a huge Flay fan myself, but I’d only have to pretend to like him if we got good enough for a throwdown! And if you want me to do alllll of that (times, travel, logistics), it’s worth at least 40%!

            • BW,

              no split for me. =) I just would like a personal signed autograph from you on your soon to be world famous “Gator Burger” recipe. Especially after you and Dotter go and win the 2012 Build A Better Burger contest.
              I anxiuosly await.

              • How’s THAT for a vote of confidence, huh? Sounds great, Bob. Sure hope Dotter and I can live up to those expectations! I’ll get right on that after Tropical Storm Lee stops messing with us. BW

  3. I’ve really enjoyed this post and the prior one. There’s something about gators that’s creepy and fascinating at the same time. Well, and cute, too – like the baby alligators I got to see on their mama’s back.

    I’m not sure about the gator burger, but why not? I wonder if they have such a thing over at Anahuac. That’s our big Chambers county “gator fest”, every September. I went over to their website but didn’t see any burgers. I think you should become famous for gator burgers. I don’t know who Bobby Flay is, or that pioneer woman, but I’m sure you could put on a better show. 😉

    I’m sitting here just miffed, watching the western edge of Lee refuse to cross Galveston Bay. When we realized you were going to get him and not us, I nearly cried. Well, maybe we can squeeze a half inch out, anyhow. Feel free to send any extra you’ve got our direction!

    • CAN YOU IMAGINE that anyone would be jealous of a Tropical Storm? Now, I am just sitting here laughing over that one with my first cuppa joe. I mean, that is seriously funny when you think about it. We’ve cried BECAUSE of what hurricanes have done to our communities, but to cry because a TS did not come our way is, well, a switch, is it not!!! Honey, if I could conjure up a way to blow it to you, it would have been done already. It is STILL raining and still blowing, and I’ve had about enough of this. The power went out in the wee hours, and thankfully I had just begun to sweat when SLECA go it back on after only 3 hours. I will see what I can do about a “Go to Galveston Dance” for ya.

  4. Glad that everyone is safe and that TS Lee seems to be losing strength quickly (though still pretty wet & blowy in some areas). Keep yer powder dry (and everything else, of course).

    BW – these posts on Gator Season are – like all o’ yer posts – informative and filled with some great tales o’ yer own adventures!
    Here’s a little fun fact to add to the “Swamp People” retinue…everyone knows “Trapper Joe” Lafon & his step-son Tommy, how many know he’s probably descended from a famous Pyrate? One o’ Laffite’s contemporaries and the man known as “The Architect Of New Orleans” – Barthelemy Lafon.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barthelemy_Lafon

    We actually ran into a Lafont in Grand Isle (who runs a business there and in LaRose) who is in fact a descendant – apparently parts o’ the family added the “T” when ol’ Bart turned Pyrate. Our meeting this gent is a bit of a funny story itself…we’d been down visiting the lovely community o’ Grand Isle and it’s beach with a small crew (prior to the Grand Spill) and stopped for a bite to eat. As we exited the shop, we were hailed by a gent from the Hair Salon next door who introduced himself as Jerry Lafont – the owner o’ two salons and the Southern Area Rep. for Paul Mitchell. He was most excited to chat with a crew o’ Pyrates – and related his own history with a tale o’ his daughter…seems she had to write about her family which Jerry thought was fine, but the daughter was somewhat less than enthusiastic; “But Dad, you’re boring”. So he told her to go to the computer and search for the family name – minus the “T” (without telling her why). Seems she thinks Dad (and her family history) a little less boring now…and that was before HE was fraternizing with Pyrates!

    • Tarun – “choot ’em” is simply a phonetic spelling o’ the Cajun accent shouting “Shoot him!” ;] Even the word “Cajun” is somewhat phonetic spelling o’ the contracted pronunciation o’ the word “Acadian” – the largely French (and a few Scots & Irish) folks who were pushed out o’ what is now Eastern Canada back in the 1700’s and many found their way south to Louisiana (which had been a large part o’ New France, so some may already have had relations there)…many integrating with the indigenous folk, like the Houma, Choctaw and Chitimacha Nations – thus “Cajun” became it’s own dialect and culture – though very similar to the dialect and culture in todays Eastern Parishes o’ Quebec, Canada. Not to be confused with the Creole French who were largely descended from settlers from France and slaves and Freemen from Africa & the West Indies (especially the famed island o’ Hispaniola, now called Haiti) Creole French (also spelled Kreyol when mentioned in terms o’ Haitian French) is again it’s own dialect.

    • Hi Tarun and welcome to the bayou. Choot’em is a phrase for “shoot them” as coined by Troy Landry, a Cajun alligator hunter on the History Channel TV series “Swamp People”. It has become a very popular show in America and the term has caught on with many viewers. Thanks for asking for clarification! BW

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