Spring Alligator Hunt Orientation
The following is a list of helpful items, tips and recommendations to enhance your hunting experience and success. You are highly encouraged to review the Alligators in Texas" (PDF 1.1 MB) informational booklet. You may download the booklet from our website or by calling the Alligator Program at (409) 736-2551, ext. 23 or 25.
- All hunters must have a valid Texas general hunting license
- One line or one method at a time per hunter
- Resource document needed for temporary tagging of the alligator
Means and Methods
Legal means for taking alligators in the wild are:
One or more of the following legal means and methods may be used for the taking an alligator, but only ONE method at a time can be utilized:
- Hook and Line (line set). Line sets must be secured on private property. Hook-bearing lines may not be set prior to the open season and shall be removed no later than sunset on the last day of the season. Each baited line shall be labeled with a plainly visible, permanent, and legibly marked gear tag that contains the full name and current address of the person who set the line and the hunting license number of the person who set the line. Line sets shall be inspected daily and alligators shall be killed, documented, and removed IMMEDIATELY upon discovery.
- Lawful Archery equipment (with barbed arrow) - longbow, recurve bow, or compound bow with reel device and arrows with line of at least 300# test securely attached to the barbed fish point.
- Hand-held Snare – size No. 4 or larger with integral locking mechanism attached to 50 feet of at least 300# test line and a long pole.
- Alligator Gig – may be used only when a line of at least 300# test is securely attached to the hook or head of the device in such a manner to prevent separation from the hook or head until the carcass is retrieved. The other end of the line must be attached to a stationary or floating object capable of maintaining the line above water when an alligator is attached.
A line attached to an arrow, snare, or gig must have a float attached to the line. The float shall be no less than 6" x 6" x 8" or, if the float is spherical, no less than 8" in diameter.
Firearms may be used to take alligators only on private property. It is unlawful to take an alligator by means of firearms from, in, on, across or over public water. Centerfire only; rimfire unlawful, except for dispatch.
An alligator captured on a taking device (line set, lawful archery equipment, gig, or snare) must be killed immediately.
- (eye & nostril exposure) The distance between the alligator's eye and nostril in inches is an estimate in feet to the alligator's total length.
- Look for areas where the grass is matted down or the ground is barren.
- Look for prints or crawl marks on levees and banks.
- Look for alligators. For archery hunters, when an alligator is spotted and goes down suddenly be aware that in a few minutes it most likely will reappear close to where it was first sighted. This would give you a good opportunity to get out on the bank and wait for a good shot.
- The best sign is seeing the alligator itself. Set your line and leave the area. Typically alligators are going to feed at night and early in the morning.
How to Set Your Line
- Use fist-sized bait of cattle spleen, heart, lung or de-feathered poultry. Game animal parts, birds, and furbearers are not legal bait.
- Each baited line must be labeled legibly with:
- Hunter's full name
- Hunter's complete mailing address
- Hunter's complete valid Texas hunting license number
- Set your baited hook a minimum of twelve inches (12") above the water’s surface. Typically, the higher the bait, the bigger the alligator. 18-24" is a good general height. This height is recommended for hunters with a short window of hunting time (like one night). For others who have a longer hunting period and are targeting larger sized alligators (8ft. or larger) a bait height of 24"-36" above the water assist in targeting the "El Grande" one (no promises – just a suggested height). But remember all lines must be checked daily!
Check all your knots . . .
There is no size restriction on alligators taken. You keep what you hook.
When you check your downed line for a gator, reel the line in slowly. Your line will most likely be covered with vegetation and it might be difficult to see the gator's head. Try to follow the line. The alligator may have come out on the bank. If your gator begins to thrash let go of the line, let the animal calm down and try again. Upon dispatch, tape or tie the mouth shut. Remember – this is a reptile and it will still exhibit muscle reflexes. The CITES tag will be placed in the last ten inches (10") of the tail when you received it from Texas Parks and Wildlife after your submission of a completed PWD-304A (PDF 19.3 KB) along with the $21.00 tag fee. In the meantime a Wildlife Resource Document must be affixed to the hide. Keep the animal moist and out of the sun.
After dispatching an alligator, a person must:
- Immediately complete a Wildlife Resource Document (WRD), which shall accompany the alligator until it is permanently tagged with a CITES tag;
- Complete an Alligator Hide Tag Report Form (PDF 19.3 KB) (PWD-304A) and mail to TPWD Headquarters, 4200 Smith School Rd., Austin, TX, 78744, along with a $21 hide tag fee (check or money order)
- Permanently tag the alligator with a CITES tag immediately upon receipt of the CITES tag in the mail from TPWD.
Caring for Your Alligator Hide
- Keep it damp and out of the sun.
- Ice it down if possible use tarps, sheets or any other available material to keep the hide moist from "slipping" or degrading.
- Remember, an alligator is a cold-blooded reptile and does not need to be dressed in the field as other game animals typically are.
Forms You Are Responsible For
- Alligator Hide Tag Report Form (PDF 19.3 KB) form (PWD-304A). The original copy is mailed to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department: 4200 Smith School Road, Austin Texas 78744 along with the $21.00 Tag fee (Send money order or check only)
- Alligator Transaction Report (PDF 27.8 KB) form (PWD-306). This report is required upon sale of any part of the alligator required by both the Hunter and the Buyer. Send this report to the address on the bottom of PWD-306 form.
- Alligator Parts Label (PWD-373) form must accompany any alligator parts.
The Sale of Your Alligator
A list of buyers and tanners can be found in the Department booklet entitled "Alligators in Texas".
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Alligator Program
(409)736-2551 ext. 23 or 25