Maybe it’s good to be a Florida Gator.
But to be a gator in Florida? Not in mid-August.
The statewide alligator harvest is Aug. 15 through Nov. 1, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced it is offering gator hunters free, three-hour classes to help prepare for the season. Reservations are not required.
The class is ideal for those who do not know if gator hunting is something they would enjoy. The time to purchase an alligator hunting permit has passed, but there’s always next year.
That said, alligator trapping “agent” permits are still available for $52. These permits allow permit holders to assist a licensed trapper in taking alligators.
To anyone who doesn’t live in the South, the experience of gator hunting would seem almost mystical. Crazy, for sure.
The sport alone is worth the experience, as gator hunters shine blinding spotlights across the river, lake or swamp, illuminating those red eyes of the gators. Typically, gators lurk along with some dangerous snakes and spiders, only adding to the perceived danger of the spot. But for those who love fried gator tail, it’s all worth it.
Moreover, gator hunting is not something that hunters master after a few tries. The pre-planning alone is an art. There are many ways to gator hunt, and those ways are outlined in the classes. Even the most experienced hunters may benefit from the classes, as some of the techniques or regulations may be forgotten over several years.
Licensed hunters do not have to attend the classes.
According to an FWC press release, class topics will cover preparation for the hunt, hunting techniques and safety, harvesting and processing, caring for the alligator hide and an overview of gator hunting rules and regulations.
Classes will be held at the following locations:
n July 29, 6-9 p.m., Gainesville, Paramount Plaza Hotel and Suites, 2900 SW 13th St. For directions, call 352-377-4000 or visit www.paramountplaza.com.
n Aug. 1, 1-4 p.m., Dania Beach, IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum, 300 Gulf Stream Way. For directions, call 954-922-4212 or visit www.igfa.org.
n Aug. 2, 2-5 p.m., Okeechobee, Okeechobee County Civic Center, 1750 U.S. Hwy 98 North. For directions call 863-462-5195.
n Aug. 5, 6-9 p.m., Tallahassee, Bryant Bldg., 2nd floor auditorium, 620 S. Meridian St. For directions, call 850-488-3831.
n Aug. 8, 1-4 p.m., Tampa, Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. Hwy. 301 N.; use the Orient Road entrance. For directions, call 800-345-FAIR (3247) or visit www.floridastatefair.com.
n Aug. 9 (Sunday), 2-5 p.m., DeLand, Wayne G. Sanborn Activities Center, 751 S. Alabama Ave. For directions call 850-488-3831 or visit www.deland.org/parks/wayne.htm.
For more information on alligator hunts, visit MyFWC.com/gators and click on “Statewide Hunts.”