Deadline approaches for alligator hunting tags

Published 9:49 pm Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Mandy Stokes’ world record alligator is still on display at the Central Alabama Farmers Co-op. Registration is ongoing for this year’s season.

Mandy Stokes’ world record alligator is still on display at the Central Alabama Farmers Co-op. Registration is ongoing for this year’s season.

Hunters looking to catch an alligator during this year’s hunting season have less than a week left to sign up for a chance to get an alligator possession tag.

Registration, which started June 2, comes to a close Tuesday, July 14 at 8 a.m.

Chris Cook, a wildlife biologist for the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, said alligator hunting, which is only in its 10th year in Alabama, gets more popular every year.

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“When the hunt is going on it is amazing to see how many people show up to sit there through the night waiting for an alligator to come in.” Cook said. “Everybody out there is looking for the next biggest gator. They all want to be that person.”

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will give out 260 tags for the 2015 alligator hunting season, which is 20 more than last year. Only 50 of those will be for the West Central Alabama Zone, which covers Dallas, Wilcox and part of Monroe counties.

“Based on what’s been taken, especially in the West-Central Zone, it is a very fertile system for growing alligators,” Cook said.

“It definitely doesn’t produce the number of alligators the delta does down in Mobile and Baldwin County, but the size of gators is by far probably the best year in and year out, which you would expect in a place that had never been hunted before.”

Alligator hunting in the West Central Alabama zone has only been legal for the last four or five years, according to Cook.

“It takes a long time for gators to get as big as they do, so that is always a benefit when you are going into an area that has never been legally hunted. You’re going to have some of those giants show up, which we have,” Cook said. “Pretty much every year there has been one that is a little bit bigger than the last, but I don’t know that we’ll have anything that tops the one from last year. That was one that is big no matter where you go.”

Mandy Stokes and her crew from Thomaston caught a world-record alligator last year in the West Central Alabama zone near Miller’s Ferry. The Stokes gator measured 15-foot, 9-inches and weighed in at 1,011.5 pounds.

The Stokes gators broke the state record, which was set by the Fancher gator two years prior. The gator, which was caught in Dallas County near Portland Landing, measured 14-foot, 2 inches and weighed 838 pounds.

“It is amazing how big those creatures are. You never know what is going to show up,” Cook said. “There is talk in some different areas of some alligators that are about that size if not that size, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see one that big, but I’m not really expecting it.”

Cook said the hunt gets harder and harder every year because alligators become more aware of hunters.

“The ones that are still out there are getting more and more wise to what a spotlight and boats easing around in the middle of the night means, so they are not as likely to stay up and let people get close,” Cook said.

Each boat is required to have at least one person with an alligator tag on it. Everyone else involved in the hunt is required to have a valid Alabama hunting license.

“It could be somebody helping with a light, or it could be somebody that’s driving the boat. If they are participating in the hunt, they have to have a license,” Cook said.

Alligator hunters can register online at for a tag. Tags will be awarded through a random drawing July 14 by 12 p.m.

Hunting season for the West Central Alabama zone is from 8 p.m. August 13 until 6 a.m. August 16 and from 8 p.m. August 20 until 6 a.m. August 23.