Thousands of Mississippians are anxious today, many to the point of a sleepless night ahead.
At 9 a.m. Tuesday, the first-come, first-served computer drawing for the 2015 public alligator hunting season will begin. Within an hour, the 920 total permits available, or least those in the most-coveted zones, are expected to be gone.
He or she with the fastest finger, the quickest Internet provider and accurately clicks on the right link, will be happy. Others, well...
At best, they’ll have to settle for a less-popular zone.
“I told my office I’d be late coming in so I can be sitting at home on go at 9 a.m.,” said Gary Turner of Jackson. “I could do it at work, but I’m not risking the office bandwidth. I have a faster connection at home. I have checked and rechecked all the clocks on my cell phone and computer and when 9 a.m. hits, I will be ready.
“And, of course, I have read, re-read and again re-read all the rules to make sure I am good to go. If you screw up something like not having an up-to-date combination hunting-fishing license, that could cost you 10 or 15 minutes. I’m betting that would be too late to get in the Barnett Reservoir, Southwest and West Central zones.”
The shift to a total electronic online system is a first for the popular hunting season, which is entering its 11th year under Ricky Flynt of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
Truth is, the biologist is just as anxious about the morning drawing as anyone, probably more so.
“It’s either going to be the best day of my career, or the worst day of my career,” Flynt joked in a text message over the weekend. He feels confident in the system supplied by an outside vendor, as far as it being able to handle the expected 9 a.m. crunch.
The same is not true about expectations of the public’s ability to navigate the process. Over the weekend, Flynt posted several reminders about the system on Facebook.
“One of the key things people need to understand is that the system won’t go live until 9 a.m., when the switch is flipped,” he said. “If you are sitting there looking at the home page and waiting, you won’t see it. You will have to update the home page at 9 a.m. for it to work.
“At 9 a.m., when it goes live, there will be an icon on both the MDWFP.com home page and the (mdwfp.com/wildlife-hunting/alligator-program.aspx) page. If you are using the MDWFP mobile app, there will be no icon but the alligator drawing will be at the top of the list of items on the home page.”
Here are his other tips:
* The purchase of a Public Waters Alligator Possession Permit requires that you must either possess a valid Mississippi All-Game or combination-type hunting/fishing license. This includes exempt seniors or exempt disabled customers. However, you will have the option to purchase the necessary prerequisite hunting/fishing license during the same transaction of the possession permit on July 14.
* Lifetime License holders are eligible, even if you no longer live in Mississippi.
* There are no exemptions for persons over 65 years of age or disability.
If you will be 65 years of age or older prior to July 14, purchase a Senior Exempt License ($5). If you are a exempt disabled resident, go ahead and purchase a Disabled Exempt hunting license ($5).
* Have a valid credit card or debit card available.
* A valid email address is required to purchase a permit. This email will be used to communicate valuable information when needed, and should be one monitored on a regular basis.
* Look for the picture of the alligator at the bottom of the Home Page. Beginning at 9 a.m. July 14. Clicking on that picture will take you directly to the permit purchasing process. There will also be a link on the Alligator Program Page that will link you to the permit purchase process, as well.
* The 2015 Mississippi public waters alligator season begins Aug. 28 and ends Sept. 7. A total of 920 permits will be available within seven public water hunting zones across the state. Permits will remain on sale until all available permits have been purchased.
* Each permit will cost $150 and will require the additional purchase of a $25 Alligator Hunting License. Permits will be non-refundable and non-transferable. Each person will be limited to only one permit in a zone of their choice.