Monday, August 23, 2010

Swamp People

So now there is a reality show on the History Channel called Swamp People. This show depicts life as an alligator hunter in the swamps of Louisiana. So I bet your wondering, why would you hunt an alligator? I asked the same thing a few years back before I moved to swamp territory. Simply put, they hunt alligators to lower the population, for the alligator meat (yes, people actually eat the stuff. Supposedly it tastes like chicken), and they hunt and sell them for the alligators skin. For one month out of the year people are allowed to hunt alligators. The state of Louisiana issues tags for the hunters, every alligator killed no matter the weight or length has to be tagged, once you are out of tags that's the end of the season for you. The heavier and longer the alligator is, the more it is worth. It was said on the first airing of the show that a hunter can make half a years salary from one month out hunting alligators.

Now you're probably sitting around wondering how to get your hands on a boat and some swamp get-up, but don't go dashing to the swamps yet. This definitely isn't a job for everyone. Alligator hunting is very dangerous but is also needed to keep the population down. If it wasn't for the hunters places like, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi would be over ran with these sharp toothed prowlers. Like I said though not a job for everyone, you need to have your wits about you when wrestling one of these creatures, watch out for the strong chompers and whipping tale, they can be huge and definitely angry when you enter their domain. Don't get knocked out of your boat either, then you will be facing alligator infested waters along with all the venomous and deadly water snakes. Hey, nobody said making money was easy.

If you saw the first episode of Swamp people you caught how a father and step-son exited their boat to find the hooked alligator, the step son went to shoot the alligator as the alligator was racing towards them, he fired and missed and fired again only to discover there were no bullets left. Now that right there is a situation you don't want to find yourself in. Facing an alligator without something to defend yourself with is a sure fire way to get really hurt or possible killed.

So how do they hook them? Well, alligators love rotting meat, yep good old rotting, stinking, raw meat. The smellier the better. An alligator can get a whiff of the rotting meat from quite a ways away and come right to it, when they go to swallow the meat, they get hooked. When the hunters make their way back to the traps they will pull the lines while someone else is standing by ready to shoot. A sure way to kill a gator is a shot right square on the head. Hey, I never said it would be pretty either.

To obtain a license to hunt alligators will cost $25 for a resident of Louisiana and $150 for non Louisiana residents. As found on the Louisiana Alligator Advisory Council site states:

An alligator hunter license applicant must submit the following:
  • a completed alligator hunter license application form including the hunter’s information (name, dob, ss#, etc.),
  • proof of property ownership (tax receipts or bill of sale) containing Parish, Township, Range, Section and acreage information,
  • a map outlining the property to be hunted, and
  • a landowner’s signature indicating permission for the hunter to harvest alligators on the property.
  • If applicable a legal alligator hunting lease may be submitted.
People not possessing or having permission to hunt alligators on property can harvest alligators as an alligator sport hunter while accompanied by a guide. A guide must be an alligator hunter possessing tags. Alligator Sport Hunter License cost $25 for Louisiana residents and $150 for non-residents.

There are a reported 1.5 million alligators located in the state of Louisiana. Now you see the need for harvesting, right? Louisiana alligator hunters currently harvest over 33,000 wild alligators and farmers harvest over 280,000 farm-raised alligators annually. Raw meat and hide values are estimated at over $10 million for the wild harvest and over $33 million for the farm harvest in 2005. (Note these values consist of raw meat and hides only and are not reflective of hide values after tanning and product manufacturing, values associated with jobs, tourism, economy, etc. or egg values.)

 There is way more to it then what the show Swamp People depicts. It is definitely a good show just to give you an idea of what life is like in the swamp lands of Louisiana.

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