Alligator season opens with hunters expecting a good catch

(Source: John Snell)
(Source: John Snell)

GIBSON, LA (WVUE) - Alligator season started Wednesday, and hundreds of hunters braved the swamps for a chance to reel in these bayou beasts.

"Got to the first line," said Tressie Richard. "It was great. We had a 9- foot gator on the line, so that was fun.

Another catch was well over 11 feet.

"It's looking great, looking real good," said Philip Richard. "A lot of big ones swimming around still."

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries expect 32,000 gators to be caught this season. It handed out enough tags – 35,000 - to keep buyers like Tim Domangue and his crew busy.

"The biggest ones, $40 for 10-foot and up," Domangue said.

The hunters have just one month to catch their crop, so it's hectic. Each gator is measured, inspected and then hauled to be processed. The meat, skin, and head are shipped worldwide.

Last year, more than 500 gators were brought in on the first day of the season. This year, Golden Ranch expects the same number.

"Normally, we get 3,000 to 5,000 every year in that short period of time," Domangue said. "That's why I say it gets pretty hectic when things start rolling around here."

Prices are on par with last year, and most hunters say they tag out within days.

"I imagine in three or four days I'll be tagged out," Philip Richard said. "It's going pretty good, as long as the weather and everything goes right."

"It's an adventure because you never know what you'll find at the end of your line," Tressie Richard said .

It's what brings the reptile wranglers back year after year.

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