Brit Miller and Toby Benoit with a 10-footer they lured into open water.

I’m here to tell you folks, I’d be fine with the rains letting up for a while. It’s almost gator season and with the water being up so high, the gators have dispersed into the back country, into the swamps and creeks where I can’t get my boat. Makes finding the really big bulls kind of rough. Lots of gators out in the open water, but the trophies have moved deep into the flood plains.

So for us gator guides, how can we get the big boys to come out and play? I have a couple tricks up my sleeve that seem to work more often than not and if you have tags to fill this year, you might want to try. Either technique may potentially help you fill a tag while affording you the opportunity to increase the size of your gator.

First off, I hang baits. Not with hooks — which would be illegal — nor with pegs with the intent of catching the big boys. I hang baits near the entrances to the narrow backwater creeks flowing into the flooded areas a night or two prior to the hunt. I consult the weather forecast to determine the dominant wind patterns and place the baits where the scent will carry back to the big hungry brutes. Note too, that feeding alligators is illegal, so the bait is placed higher up in the limbs of overhanging trees where the gators can’t reach it. Even though they’re unable to reach and eat the baits, the scent of it will keep them nearby and exposed.

Next is calling to them. Lots of hunters employ vocalizations of small alligators in distress, which can bring the older gators out for a look at what the problem may be. I will admit to you that I don’t know why they will come out. I’ve had hunters with far more experience than myself tell me that they come out to defend the little guys they think are in trouble. Yet, I’ve had hunters with far more experience than myself tell me that the big bull gators respond out of cannibalistic intent looking for an easy meal of the youngster. But whatever their reason for leaving safety and approaching the boat when they hear a small gator’s distress cries, they come; and that’s the whole point.

Once them oversized swamp chickens make an appearance in the open water, there are a lot of ways of conducting the hunt. On my boat we’ll be employing saltwater spinning combos to pitch weighted treble hooks over the gator in hopes of snagging him. Once he’s on the line, we just let him drag the boat around while we reel in and close the distance until we can get within range to thrust a harpoon into him and secure a heavy-hand line to him.

It’s at this point that the fighting begins. He will go all out on an offensive to kill and eat us. The deck is truly stacked against the big lizards, but the fight can get dangerous if we lose focus for just an instance. Eventually he’ll tire out and give you the opportunity to make the kill with a tap on the noggin from a bang stick. After which, we can only hope to be headed back to the boat ramp with a monster we can be proud of for having made the river just a little bit safer for everybody else.

I surely thank you for all of your input and as always, if you have any feedback, give me a shout at God Bless and Good Hunting!

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