The countdown has begun for the online drawing process for the 920 permits available for the statewide public waters alligator hunting season. 

At 9 a.m. on July 19, the process will begin, and it should end by 10 a.m., when the last of the permits is claimed. Last year, the first for the online first-come first-served process, it took just 39 minutes.

“When you think about it, that one hour is more important to an alligator hunter than the 10 days of the season (Aug. 26-Sept. 5),” said Jake Waters of Jackson, who failed in his attempt in 2015 to obtain a permit. “I learned the hard way. I was at my office, sitting there watching the clock on my computer ready to log in and just before 9 o’clock, I got a call that I had to answer. It took me 10 minutes to handle it, and when I logged back in to the MDWFP site, I couldn’t get a permit. 

“I tried hard. I reloaded and reloaded and refreshed and refreshed, and I couldn’t get it done. Fortunately, I had two friends that got permits and I was able to go with them. This year, I’m taking the morning off and doing it at home. I’d rather use a vacation day then to try and secure a permit than to save them for a season I might not get a permit for.”

According to Ricky Flynt, alligator program coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, the process got bogged down in 2015 due to the heavy traffic.

“It slowed down, but (the server) never crashed,” Flynt said, adding that the problem was with a bottleneck that the system created when buyers were directed from the MDWFP.com page to a ms.gov site where the purchases actually took place.

Flynt said it is a completely different server, and this year people can bypass the MDWFP.com site and go directly to www.ms.gov/mdwfp/alligator.

Flynt suggests that people who plan to apply should bookmark that page in advance, but that the alligator page at mdwfp.com is still a viable access point. The system has tripled its server capacity since last July.

Anybody online at the site prior to 9 a.m. will have to refresh the page when the countdown — which will be shown on the screen — has ended before starting the process.

The permits are only available for Mississippi residents 16 years of age or older, former Mississippi residents with lifetime Sportsman licenses, or non-resident military personnel currently stationed in Mississippi who are eligible to buy a hunting/fishing license. Applicants must have a valid combination hunting/fishing license at the time of the drawing, or they will not be able to complete the process in a timely manner.

And, as stated, every minute is valuable.