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In 2011, or was it 2012? No, it was 2011. I think. Anyway, I made an epic journey in pursuit of one of my bucket list prey. Or maybe it should be called predator. I mean, it is the top of the food chain, but then again, it was being hunted.
While my memory doesn’t quickly name the year and my indecisiveness cannot determine prey or predator, it was a hunt I will never forget.
After three years of applications and accumulating priority points, the state of Georgia had finally picked me, a bowhunting North Carolinian, in their annual alligator lottery hunt. I perused several bulletin board websites and found another hunter that was drawn for the same zone I was selected for, and we messaged each other and decided to do the hunt together.
It was a win-win for both of us. He also wanted to hunt the gator with a bow only. Seeing that I already had all of the equipment necessary and he lived where the hunt was going to take place, it became really easy to plan the hunt.
He was the one responsible for scouting, and he also provided a place for me to stay and we used his boat so I wouldn’t have to haul one down I-95 to the southern reaches of the Peach State. In turn, I provided all gear needed. I know, it seems a little lopsided on the trade-off, but it really was a pretty even deal when you count that he didn’t have to purchase any of the bowfishing equipment, headlamps, or equipment strong enough to handle a large man-eating predator (or prey) in the depths of the swamps.
We not only became friends from the hunt together, but we were successful in the hunt.
The gator I took was roughly six feet in length. Not a fully grown monster that you see on History Channel or horror movies, but exactly what I wanted, as the hide adorns my room above the television.
The tail also provided more than enough gator steaks for a while.
So why rehash the story of this once-in-a-lifetime adventure?
Because, North Carolina has just announced we will have a gator season in the near future. Details are still coming out as of the time of this column, but the details that have been released pretty much mirror the legislation of other states on the taking of gators.
The season will run for one month, in September. The means of taking involves gigs, bow equipment, etc. — all attached with line. As soon as the alligator is harvested, it must be dispatched, usually by means such as a firearm or boom stick (a modified form of firearm in which a tubular metal stick is slammed on the back of the gator’s skull which has a pin that acts as a firing pin on a cartridge (shell or bullet). It can also be dispatched by knife or broadhead as well, but again, it must be done as soon as the gator is brought to the boat or person.
While the limit will be one per season, it is unclear how many tags will be issued, if a lottery system will be put in place and if so, whether it will costs to apply for the lottery system, as well as other cost factors.
One thing will be clear though. It will be an absolutely epic adventure that you will not forget.