The time to apply for permits for the alligator harvest program is now
In terms of physical exertion and sweaty frustration, gator hunting is a punishing pursuit.
And I’m not talking about gator hunting in the sense of shooting one with a rifle on a private land tag. No, I’m talking public waters with you and two or three of your buddies clamoring and yelling over one another in an 18-foot aluminum jon boat brimming with treble hooks and gaffs and half-rotten chicken baits, while heaving an 11-foot leviathan from a river bottom in the Florida heat with a stout fishing rod and braided line strained so taut it whistles in the faint breeze.
Now that I think about it, I may just petition the International Olympic Committee to add gator hunting to their roster for the 2024 Summer Games. Tug-of-war was once an Olympic event; gator hunting is basically redneck tug-of-war. The animal possesses the physical advantage. Hunters must maintain the edge in endurance, which is no simple feat. At a minimum, I could field a silver medal-winning team.
Reading through the IOC’s guidelines for adopting a new sport, however, I could be up against a few hurdles in realizing my Olympic Dreams. The requisite global appeal is probably lacking, though judging by the number of applicants for a Statewide Alligator Harvest permit each May, I could be off-base.
I also harbor concerns over whether some of our hunter-athletes could pass muster with the World Anti-Doping Agency. Still, I don’t see Busch Lite on the list of banned performance enhancers, which is great news, of course.
But, that’s two summers away. To participate in this year’s alligator harvest program, the time to apply for permits is now. The first application period opened May 6 and will end on May 16. Results should be posted by the May 18, according to FWC’s website.
Hunters will have up to 12 hunt choices per application to increase their chances of being selected during the lottery process. A credit card is required for the application and will be charged if you’re successful.
As for those 12 selections, here’s a tip that eludes a few people every season — always rank your most-desired hunts or those with the lowest odds highest on the application. Seems intuitive enough, but the random draw system assigns each applicant a number, and if that number is called, it will award the first available hunt from your choices.
Also, be mighty certain the units you select you can actually hunt come August and September. These permits are in high demand, and I hate to hear about tags going unfilled because the successful applicant realized the chosen waterbody was too far from home and sat on them.
Inclement weather is also a large factor in this game; if a planned weekend is ruined by rain and lightning, will you have other chances? Just something to think about before ponying up the money and potentially taking someone else’s place in line.
Prior to applying this year, check out FWC’s Guide to Alligator Hunting in Florida at myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/wildlife/alligator/harvest/hunt-guide/
This webpage provides invaluable information on hunting units and dates, licensing requirements and regulations, safety considerations, and methods for harvesting gators, as well as processors and even recipes for that coveted gator tail.
New this season, gator hunting is now a 24-hour event, thanks to rules finalized by the FWC Commission during their meeting on May 3. No longer shall we be relegated to the darkness; the light will shine upon us for the world to see!
At least that’s my ultimate gold medal hope for 2024. For now, though, best of luck in drawing your permit during this year’s application periods.
And, let the games begin!
2022 Statewide Alligator Harvest Application Periods
Phase I Applications: May 6-16, 2022
Lottery and Charges: May 17-18, 2022
Phase II Applications: May 20-30, 2022
Lottery and Charges: May 31-June 1, 2022
Phase III Applications: June 3-13, 2022
Lottery and Charges: June 14-15, 2022
Leftovers: June 16, 2022 until sold out
This article originally appeared on The Ledger: The time to apply for permits for the alligator harvest program is now