A couple of years ago, I came across an article about alligator hunting in South Carolina. Did ya’ll realize that there was such a thing as gator huntin’ season in S.C.? No? Neither…did…I!!!!
I swanny I just can’t keep up. We have deer season, shrimp season, allergy season, oyster season, rattlesnake roundup season, mosquito season, gnat season, the inevitable love-bug season; a virtual plethora of “seasons” here in S.C. But I DID NOT KNOW we had an alligator hunting season! How did that slip by me? Maybe I was concentrating on turkey hunting season! Lots-o-turkey’s ’round here you know.
When I learned of the Alligator Hunting Season, I was compelled to go to the Department of Natural Resources website and check out this thing and review the rules and regulations, not that I’ll be out in a boat searching for gators mind you, but rather I was intrigued by the enigmatic nature of the whole thing (for us southerners, that means “strange”).
According to the DNR website, the state was divided into four ‘Alligator Management Units.’ Who would’ve known?
Unit 1 is the southern coastal section
Unit 2 is the middle coastal section
Unit 3 is the midlands section
Unit 4 is the Pee Dee section. In looking at the map, it seems there should be a Unit 5 for the upper NW part of S.C.; however it’s listed as “No Season.” Perhaps the alligators boycotted that part of S.C. and refused to travel that far north. Maybe they fear the prospect of being called a ‘Yankee Gator’ venturing north bound.
It seems 300 permits and tags were issued per unit and apparently it’s a no-no to hunt outside the unit you’ve been assigned to. It didn’t say what they would do to you if you crossed the “border” but I’m shakin’ in my boots! The site told us that gator hunting season opened in September, darn I missed it, and follows suit for about a month to October. We get a whole month to chase our golf course loving friends. BUT, we must keep in mind that hunters will be selected by a RANDOM COMPUTER DRAWING, which leads me to question, is there really that many people out there lining up to hunt gators? Successful applicants will be issued a permit and one (1) tag that allow them to harvest one (1) alligator in the designated Alligator Management Unit (henceforth the AMU).
Applicants will be allowed to hunt in only one AMU per season, and can apply for any number of the four AMU’s, including all units. Apparently selecting the same unit more than once does not increase our odds of being selected for that unit. This is making my head hurt. If successful, we will be selected for one unit only. Oh, and if we’re not successful and our name is not randomly drawn, we do get the booby prize of accumulating something called “preference points”, oh happy day. Keep in mind now, we may not sell or trade our preference points for waterfowl or deer permits. Oh yeah, I forgot about waterfowl hunting season; those darned ducks.
I also learned that gators must be 4 feet or greater in length (gotta remember to bring along that measuring tape), secured and brought to shore in public waters or alongside the boat before being ‘dispatched’. Dispatched? Is this a polite way of saying ‘killed?’ Further, we may not dispatch any of our toothy fellows if they are swimming freely in the water or basking on the bank in the sunlight. What else would they be doing anyway? Further, we cannot bait them in any way by use of baited hooks, set hooks or poles. How then are we to catch these critters so we may “dispatch” them I ask?
I also discovered that I could not use my rifle to ‘dispatch’ them, darn again, but may ONLY use a handgun or bang stick. What the heck is a bang stick? I’ve never owned a bang stick that I know of; wouldn’t know one if I fell over it; it sounds cruel and unusual in my opinion; but I think I might like to have one anyway.
What really gets me is the cost factor involved in gator hunting. There seems to be a $10 non-refundable application fee involved, and a whopping $100 alligator hunting permit fee! For $110 I’M ONLY ALLOWED TO GET ONE GATOR PER PERMIT, WOW! I’m allowed to pay my fees on line, thank goodness, or I would have to drive several hours to one of four different cities in S.C. to stand in line at the DNR office to pay my fees. (I wonder if their lines are as bad as the DMV’s?) I agonize at the thought of buying the fuel and oil for the boat, the cost of our food and drinks for the day, and coolers full of ice that must be purchased to keep our guy “fresh” on the way home from our unit, whichever one we’ve been assigned to? Oh, did I mention, if you’re not from ‘round here, you gotta pay an out-of-state fee (mysteriously the amount was not mentioned) on top of the other fees to get your permit? What’s up with that?
Once I have permit in hand, I can take off for the gator hunt. It was good to find out that others may assist me, the “permitee” in the gator hunt, because I really hate hunting all by my lonesome. However, all my friends must also be licensed S.C. hunters as well, each spending $110 to come along for the fun. Grab the cooler guys, we’re goin’ gator huntin’!
Now, once I’ve secured my gator alongside my boat (by whatever unknown means I’ve caught him) and brought him to the shore and “dispatched” him with my bang stick (still don’t know what that is!), I will be allowed to KEEP my alligator. I guess I can grind him up into gator burgers or fry up some po-gator chips for football season.
But, I will NOT be allowed to sell my gator to anyone for any reason (say it isn’t so). Specifically, the ‘meat, hide or any of his parts’ so says the law.
The confusing news about this whole program is, the money collected is used to support the Alligator Management Program activities, and for the CONSERVATION of the American Alligator in S.C.
Conservation? They’re tell’in us to go ahead and kill off this cold blooded dinosaur, which has been around for millions of years, so that we may further preserve his existence. Huh? Now I’m really confused. My headache’s getting worse.
OMG, and there’s even more! If you hunt the WMA (Wildlife Management Area), one must pay a fee of $500 for that one gator; or $800 if you’re not from ‘round here…if you’re randomly selected from that same ‘ole computer that is.
In conclusion, maybe I’ll be more prepared for gator hunt’in season some other year. I’ll have my money and accoutrements ready, round up my buddies so I won’t have to hunt alone, find that bang stick thing (they probably have them on Amazon), and pray that the DNR computer will randomly pick me so I may travel speedily to my designated alligator management unit! Gettin’ the prize home will be my most difficult task thereafter. Oh, gotta get a big freezer from Wal-Mart or Lowes! Forgot about that.
Take a gander at the DNR site sometime, there’s even more fun rules on there. They may have changed however, because this whole journey into monopolizing on gators seems like a croc! I’m puttin’ away my bang stick and going to bed! Nite, ya’ll.
J&C Wordsmiths, LLC – Authors Jack Gannon & Cyndi Williams-Barnier
Authors of THE TASK FORCE NOVEL SERIES