Contributors to this thread:
How to find/hunt BIG gators
What are the best strategies? What times of night (Florida)? What weapon?
Snagging seems like a good plan to start - can reach out or get on a submerged one.
Where I hunted the bigger ones were very cautious and stayed up only when distant or submerged and would wait until you left to move.
You can hunt them from blinds also... but it really depends on the property you are hunting. Public or Private.
I think May is one of the best times to kill a real big gator as it is the rut....but any time over the winter will work as well.
I dont like the snagging process as it takes away from the hunt for me. But it is very effective.
It is Florida 8/22-8/27. I meant times of day (you can hunt from 5pm-10am
I agree on snagging but the thought of "fishing" for a 600 pound critter also seems neat!
If ya can draw a tag, South Carolina has some huge gators. I have seen several over 13-14ft. I have hog hunted with my son-in-law and as I said saw some true giants. Shawn
Some areas are better at daylight, some are better after sunset. My friend has the best luck by putting a bait out and waiting till he eats it. Just be aware you have to use a special wooden device in place of the hook. I like to cruise around with a light and chase them with the boat but although its the fun way its not produced any big boys. Goodluck, Mike
I like mornings, glassing from the bank, staying out of sight, keeping quiet as possible and definitely down wind. Favorite tactic is calling but if you find an area where a big one sun baths, set up and wait.
All the huge ones I saw and a couple may of been the same gator were on the Waccamaw River. I also saw a huge one near Georgetown on my son-in-laws lease. I don't think any were 14 ft but close and one was I am sure over 700#s. Scooby
14 foot alligators are incredibly rare. To find and legally kill one would be akin to killing a 280" mule deer. They exist, just not often.
A 12 foot gator is a gigantic alligator. Never heard of anyone guessing weights??? That's a new one for me.
One tip I'd offer is that the distance from eye to nostril (center to center) in inches translates almost exactly to the length in feet. Also, in my experience, bigger alligators have heads that are almost black. If the head looks greenish-brown, it's probably not what you're after.
Don, I've taken or helped others take 22 gators all DIY and all with longbow or recurve on the public waters hunt like you've drawn. My personal biggest was 12'2". We've taken many in the 9 - 10' range, a few over 10', and a few over 11'. As Halibutman said a 14' gator is almost non-existent. I have only seen one while hunting. I have drawn the tag where he lives this year and will be after him Aug 15 - 22. One of the best gator guides in all of Florida told me he equates a gator over 10' like a P&Y deer and one over 12' like a B&C deer in degree of difficulty and likelihood of taking. I believe it. Following are my observations:
*You have to hunt where the big ones are. Units with lots of tags will have few big gators.
*The more difficult the access to the hunting water the better chance of a big gator.
*You will not get close to a big gator in public waters with an airboat. I've been working in on big gators in stealth mode (trolling motor only) and when the sound of an airboat came into range the gator submerged. Seen it many times.
*They will NOT give you a second chance. Their brain may be the size of a walnut, but they have survived since the dinosaurs.
*Bigpizzaman's tactics may work during Phase I in a lightly hunted unit, but once a big gator gets pressured. He gets real smart. Private land and nuisance gators are a very different critter than a public waters hunt area gator. Just like whitetails.
*There is a "witching hour" between 2 - 4 AM that the gators seem to let their guard down. I don't have any idea why, but it is real.
*Hunt them as quiet and non-obtrusive as possible. Never shine your light directly at one. Always use the halo to spot them and then turn it off and move in as quiet as possible.
Hopefully, I'll have a photo of a bonafide 14' gator after Aug 15th. I will be taking my son and daughter-in-law. No matter what you shoot, it will be a ton of fun.
I got to admit, hearing you guys talk about gator hunting makes me realize I have been quite guilty of having dumb ass preconceptions of what gator hunting was like and the difficulty of it. it sounds a lot more challenging than i thought of it, and it sounds a hell of lot more interesting than i thought it would be.
NY Bowman / Don - good luck to you guys!!!
I agree with everything NY Bowman says. Big Gators get big by being smart, I'm blessed enough to hunt private land, I do so because I'm not into the night hunting as much. You get one coming to a call and you will be hooked!!~
If people knew just how much fun the right kind of gator hunt is, tags would take years to draw! Public land gator hunts for 10+ footers are very hard, about the same as hunting for a 180" whitetail in my opinion. There is some very good advice on this thread BTW. And that is what makes BS so good! Mike
Hunted one time in Florida with crossbow on public lands using airboat and guide. Over Labor Day weekend. Planned to start just before dark but a large squall blew through dumping rain plus some lightning which kept us on shore until was pitch dark.
You have hunted them before so most likely Florida is not new other than perhaps you can only bait on wooden dowels rather than hooks.
Was memorable though one trip was enough alligator hunting for my lifetime. My gosh, bugs, bugs, bugs. No joke, when the spot light would come on there would be 200 bugs buzzing in the volume of a basketball. Oh, and the smells of the stirred up bottom muck and the alligators. I got something on my right shoe that may have originally been inside one of the harvested alligators. The shoe stunk and still did after washing with soap and still did after washing with bleach. Tossed them.
Is eerie the first time the spotlight came on and you see hundreds of sets of alligator eyeballs glowing yellow and orange within golf ball range of the boat. Is like staring at the milky way on a clear night. Too damn many to count. Had to be 1000s of alligators on the shallow lake we hunted. The harvest goal had to be less than 1% of mature alligators over 8' since I know how many permits were issued and how many alligators we saw. Very conservative and if my memory is correct about as many nuisance alligators are taken each year as public land alligators are harvested.
Ended up shooting a couple of 9' alligators using a crossbow. Not the biggest two we saw but you have to get within a few feet of them without them diving so lots and lots of "close but no cigar" approaches. One really nice alligator dove on us and we could see bubbles where was moving along the bottom of the lake so tried to snag with a fishing pole and treble hook but no luck.
Good luck on your adventure!
Bigpizza has a great point and has far more experience than I on daytime hunting. I also agree that calling them is really fun. I called a nice 9-10' gator right to the front of the boat for my daughter. It was so close to the boat I thought she was going to shoot the deck of my boat. My friend who was a gator guide for many years in Florida is absolutely the best gator caller with his natural voice that I've ever heard. He called in a 10' gator for my youngest daughter that was also less than 3' from the boat. I would say 50% of the gators we've taken have been called in. I don't know how many 6-9' gators we called in that we didn't want to shoot and we actually bumped into them with the boat. After we killed our 4 last year we still had a lot of gators around and I trolled up to a 9' and grabbed it by the tail just for fun.
Treewalker, you are right. They do have a bit of a smell. Ha!
We had a great time hunting gators in Florida this year. Nothing giant, but solid gators that will eat well and provide nice leather.
Nice! That looks 10-1/2'? I am heading out Tuesday!
We took this one out of Millers Ferry in Camden last weekend.
Just got back to the boat landing with this 8'er. Not quite as big as the one from last weekend but the young man that got it is pretty excited. His first gator. :-)
Nice Gators! Congrats guys!