Mississippi hunters have new alligator hunting opportunitiesPublished 12:14am Sunday, April 1, 2012
NATCHEZ — Natchez’s Jim Allgood and Wade Simpson love the excitement of trying to take down the United States’ largest reptile.
The two hunters have travelled hundreds of miles for the opportunity to hunt and kill alligators in Louisiana.
But new alligator hunting regulations in Mississippi will give Allgood and Simpson the opportunity to hunt closer to home this year.
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks has expanded alligator hunting opportunities across the state for this season and nearly doubled the amount of available permits. The 2012 hunting season regulations, adopted by MDWFP on March 20, also opened up several more bodies of water in the state where hunters are allowed to try to bag a gator.
Simpson said he likes the fact that the new law will give people more opportunities to experience the excitement of alligator hunting.
“(Alligator hunting) is great because of the rush and the thrill of not knowing what’s going to happen next,” Simpson said.
Allgood said he has never had the opportunity to actually kill a gator himself on his hunts, but he hopes with more opportunities available he will get that chance.
“All the events I’ve gone on I have allowed others to shoot due to our number of tags,” Allgood said. “Now if I get lucky enough to win a lottery, I would love to take a gator.”
Last year only two locations allowed alligator hunting in Mississippi (The Pearl River/Ross Barnett and Pascagoula River Zones). This year the state was split into six different regional hunting zones with available public waters in each of the six zones.
Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and Wilkinson counties are all located in the Southwest zone, which will offer 150 hunting permits this season, and includes Lake Mary in Wilkinson County.
MDWFP Alligator Program Coordinator Ricky Flynt said this year’s new hunting areas represent a significant expansion.
“As far as public water, (alligator hunting) has been very limited,” Flynt said. “It’s been only two areas. Now basically two-thirds of the state is open to hunting this year.”
An additional change to this year’s season is the number of days hunters will have to hunt. Last year hunters were given just one day, but this season all zones are open from Sept. 7 to Sept. 17.
Each regional hunting zone will allow 150 permits and the Pearl River/Ross Barnett Zone will have 60 permits available. Hopeful hunters can submit one application for each hunting zone.
This year all applications must be submitted online through www.mdwfp.com. There is a $10 fee per application. Applications can be submitted from June 1-15.
Applicants must also validate their application online before July 1, and each accepted hunter must complete an alligator-training course. Dates and times for the courses have not been announced.
Only Mississippi residents 16 years or older may apply for an alligator possession permit. Non-residents may be hunting assistants.
Bag limits, capture and dispatch methods, as well as other alligator hunting information can be found at mdwfp.com.
Alligator hunting on Mississippi public waters started in 2005, and each year it has expanded.
“It’s been our desire to try to develop a season that is safe and beneficial to the resource, ensure there is fair chase and sporting opportunity and to harvest some abundance of the population,” Flynt said. “That’s the purpose in the slow progress.”