Wild Alligator Harvest 2010

What does it take to capture 88 alligators in six days (including rainy days)?

It takes one father, two teen-aged sons, two boats, bamboo poles, rope, hooks, beef tallow, a gun, and a pulley system.

Pictured here are brothers, 15 and 13, who helped their father trap the biggest gator so far in the parish this season.  The male alligator, at 12 feet 3 inches, was one of 16 they brought in the first day.  Among the sixteen was an eleven footer and two ten footers.  The load was so heavy in the boat, that when they ran the boat up on the trailer, the axle bent under the weight and the tires went flat.  The father, Capt. John, had to call the selling dock and ask the buyer to come down in his truck and lighten the load.

Look closely in the above pic and you can see the 12 foot, 3 inch gator being hauled across the ground.

This season was history-in-the-making as  the first season the teens accompanied their father as full members of the hunting crew.  And it’s also the first time in several years that their lease has been issued tags.

Here, thirteen-year-old “Boss” holds the boat line and looks on as the gators are lined up for inspection on day five.  None of the gators were less than six feet long.

To give you an idea of how big some of the gators were, this was a full-sized man’s boot crossing over this big one.

After the gators are lined up, the buyer uses this little gadget to read aloud the number off the tag as it is recorded on a voucher.  Look closely and see the white tag at the end of each tail.

Then, another worker comes along to “sex” each of the gators by inserting a finger in an orifice looking for hidden male parts!!  He quickly yells male, male, male, male, and on and on.  These were mostly males, which is what the landowner likes to hear.  It’s preferable to thin out the males, leaving the mature females for reproduction.

The gators are then measured, and the length is recorded on the voucher.

The next stop for these gators is . . .

the ice chest and then a trip in a refrigerated truck to the processing plant at the gator farm in Vermilion Parish.

I didn’t hear Capt. John’s final tally of total footage, but my guess is he and his sons filled their tags quicker than anyone, and did so with the largest gators caught.

P.S.  I talked to Capt. John again and found out that the price he got is only $6 a foot for the small gators (six feet and under) and only $18 a foot for the big ones.  Wow.  It really is a heritage thing because he certainly did not do all that work for the money.

To be continued with details of setting a line and tagging a gator. . .

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Comments

Wild Alligator Harvest 2010 — 25 Comments

  1. Exciting times! Hope Capt. J & sons got a good price for them. Know the boys were thrilled to be out there with their dad this season.

    I can smell them gators from here. Oh no, that was gator farms I was thinking of. Bob’s so glad he doesn’t have to go to the processing plants or the farms anymore. I, on the other hand, was always fasinated and tagged along any time I could. I’d love to go on a hunt.

    Wish I could see a picture of the biggest ones.

    • I missed getting my own close-up shots of the BIG ONE because I was out on another boat. When I showed up, the trailer was breaking and he had no time to fool with a photographer!!!! I added another pic for you . . . at the selling dock and from a distance. . . but I think you can make it out.

        • Not many folks are commenting but I think it’s because as much as folks are interested in life in the La. wetlands, it’s sometimes hard to deal with just how hard making a living is here. There’s nothing romantic about killing gators, but it’s a necessity. If not, the gators would be hanging out in my yard, eating my dogs and cats, right?

  2. Just so everyone knows . . . it’s okay if you want to ask questions, and I apologize if this post offends anyone. The way of life here is rough, so we take the rough with the beautiful, okay? So, bring on those comments. I want to know your thoughts, good, bad, indifferent. BW

  3. I giggled at the guy wearing Crocs measuring gators. You had to have known I’d notice the shoes in a photo first, lol. I think it’s a great post and the only way to learn about a culture is to just dive right in. Keep up the good work.

  4. Absolutely a great post BW. You’re ‘keeping it real’ (as the kids say.) That 12-footer is humongous! His girth alone looks like it’d make a jumbo suitcase. I **am** glad though that it’s mostly males being caught. Gotta keep the reproducers safe and healthy.

    I loved Mrs Coach’s observation about the guy wearing Crocs—that jumped out at me also. Great pics—thanks again.

  5. Wait till tonight. I bet you’ll see more comments. Do you know how many “tags” the hunters get? Does that number change from year to year?
    I don’t think the public realize that the alligator population needs to be thinned. Certainly not to the point where they are put back on the endangered species list. That’s why there is a limit (tags) on how many can be harvested. Even Alligator farms have to do their part in keeping the wild population strong.

    • Yes, Steffi, and all of that is spelled out at length in the “official article” which I will be posting some time this week. By then, everyone will be experts from watching “Swamp People” LOL!

  6. I guess it is startling to folks not used to the ways down here. To me it’s just a natural thing we do. I knew of one gator farmer that would go out and place gator eggs on the nests while “no one was home”. Not sure if that’s a normal practice or not. That’s just crazy!

      • Returning eggs to the wild is part of the Federal regulations. That’s what I meant when I said the farms had to do their part in keeping the wild population strong.

  7. Those boys sure know how to smile for a photo, don’t they? 😉 I’ve been ‘gator hunting a couple of times myself, purely as a spectator, though! Great photos, BW.

  8. Way back in the early `60’s I had joined the Army on was stationed at Fort Polk,I was curious about La.since I was from the northwest,I would stop people just to get the info I desired.Well I met a man that was from south La.and he invited me to come to the swamps where he lived,he insisted that I call him Papa just like his kids did.Long story short that man took time from his busy life not only to answer my never ending questions but to teach me about life.When I went to Nam,he and his wonderful family were the first to write to me,he continued to educate me on the ways of the bayou.He was the first person I visited on my return to the states.He died soon after and I have lost touch with his family.I will never forget when he told me “Boy,you listen to Papa and you live,you hear,now.”Even now it is hard to go to La. and not want to go see Papa.

    • Now that is touching, C.E. but it does not surprise me at all that he took you under his wing. South Louisianians are some of the most genuine people you will ever meet who will give you the shirt off their backs. And you were genuinely interested, and that is also why he took the time to answer your questions. His memory lives in you, and his family misses him no doubt. Thanks for your comment. BW

  9. Being raised to hunt, fish & raise our own food or go without was a way of life with my family so, the photos don’t bother me or the fact that the population needs to be kept at a manageable number.
    Wolves and deer were reinstroduced in our area and now, hunters can go after them to keep the population under control. At least hunt the deer. Not up to date on the wolves.

    Did you get to watch the Swamp People episode? If so, does it appear genuine to you? Steffi asked how many tags they get. I noticed on the show that the hunters they are featuring seemed to have differing amounts. I believe one had in the 80s and one had over 100. I will wait for your article to get to the nitty gritty of it.

    • Thanks for sharing similar stories, Cammy. To briefly answer yours and Steffi’s question about tags . . . it is based on the size of the lease (hunting area) and a survey of viability. More in the article . . .

  10. My kids still remember the time we were down there during the alligator harvest time. Those things really are huge, and I’m just glad they keep the numbers low enough so that they stay where they belong!

  11. Swamp People got the talk show bashing up here recently.

    Sad people forgot where we came from and continue to go because of.

    Ft. Polk? got an I.S. guy shares his memories of the fort and trips to and from up and down etc etc. He is a National Guard lifer at this point.

    Really windy here today.

  12. Hi , it looks really cool !
    But get it a bigger Version of this Pictures? , because ther are really little.

    And i would ask can you pls send me the pictures or send me a link where i can see a bigger version of the pictures.

    vordiewand123@yahoo.de <— its my email.

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