Good weather makes for great gator season

The hunting party of Paul Edwards of Okolona tied the state record for the longest female alligator taken in public waters. The alligator was 10 feet long and weighed 289 pounds. It had a belly girth of 48 inches and tail girth of 34.5 inches. It was taken in the late-morning hours of Sept. 5 from the West Central Alligator Hunting Zone. The alligator was certified by Ricky Flynt, MDWFP alligator program coordinator, on Sept. 5. The hunters were, (l-r), Brandon Griggs, Marvin Griggs, Paul Edwards, Taylor Criddle, Hunter Griggs, and James Boyd.

To Ricky Flynt, alligator program coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, the secret to a successful alligator season is as simple as weather, and the 2019 season was a perfect example, with participation records set.

 “The weather was absolutely perfect for the 10-day hunting season statewide,” Flynt said. “It gave hunters ample opportunity to hunt.”

And, boy did they. Flynt said the MDWFP received a total of 4,414 permit applications, and 957 of the 960 available permits were sold. The total harvest of 922 — out of more than 2,000 alligators captured — is surpassed only by the harvest of 982 in the 2015 season. The season also had one of the highest hunter success rates at 75%.

“We had the highest participation ever,” Flynt said. “Public water levels were above typical levels, and that allowed hunters to get to areas that have not been accessible in other years.”

Of the seven zones, the Southwest Zone had the highest number of harvested alligators (422) and tied the Southeast Zone in the length category (with 13 1/2-foot alligators).

“Alligator hunters are selective about the alligators they keep because of the limits,” Flynt said. “Hunters are allowed two gators, and only one that is over 7 feet long.”

Only one state record was reported; it tied a previous mark for longest female at 10 feet. The gator captured by Paul Edwards of Okalona on Sept. 5 weighed 289 pounds, with a belly girth of 48 inches and a tail girth of 341/2 inches.

2019 Alligator numbers

  • Total applicants                           4,414
  • Permits sold                                 957 out of 960
  • Permits used                                816 (85.4%)
  • Total hunters                               3,065
  • Average hunting party             3.8 people
  • Success rate                                 75.5 % (617 permits)
  • Total havest                                 918
  • Over 7 feet                                    422
  • Under 7 feet                                 496
  • Total released                              2,018
  • Hours per gator                          7.86

Bobby Cleveland
About Bobby Cleveland 1222 Articles
Bobby Cleveland has covered sports in Mississippi for over 40 years. A native of Hattiesburg and graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Cleveland lives on Ross Barnett Reservoir near Jackson with his wife Pam.

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