Gator hunting season underway; local trapper nabs 8-footer within first hour of season

Just after 5 p.m. Monday, one of Florida's most dangerous predators became the prey. Florida's alligator hunting season is officially underway and for 10 weeks hunters will be lurking through warm inland waters.

"These gators out here, they're smart, they're savvy," said Robert Arrington, a licensed gator trapper from Jupiter.

"I'm actually going to start calling. I'll start trying to grunt one up. I'll act like a baby alligator," added Arrington.

Arrington is known for his popular hunting YouTube Channel, Deer Meat for Dinner. When gator hunting season comes around, his inbox floods with requests to catch.

"All my hunts this year, I'm donating to people like this family here," said Arrington.

 

The Spies family from Stuart went out with Arrington to catch their first gator on the first day of gator hunting season.

"We're going to put baits out in these points and we'll start calling them, once I see them I'll move that chicken, game time," said Arrington.

The surface of Lake Marian near Central Florida is calm, until the gator bait starts to draw in the cold-blood predators. Within the first hour of hunting season, an 8-foot gator chomps on Arrington's chicken bait.

"So we're going to reel in our baits and catch this one," said Arrington.

The next few minutes are intense, getting the gator right where you need him and he's not giving up without a fight.

"These are apex predators that are not signed up just to commit suicide. I've got huge chunks taken out of the bottom of my boat," said Arrington.

With Arrington's guidance, Sarah Spies starts to reel in dinner.

"It was definitely a little scary being up there," said Spies.

Gator hunting is heavily regulated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. A bang stick is used to shoot the gator in the head.

"I've actually had alligators that I thought were dead in the boat come fully back to life, so we always kill the gator, bring them on the boat, I normally sever the spine and tape their mouth," added Arrington.

And there it is, the first catch of season.

Every hunter who receives a permit to trap gators gets two tags from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.That means they can legally catch two gators in the public waterway they have permits for.  Once the catch is complete they have to tag the gator to make it a legal kill.

All catches are documented and reported to the FWC. What is done with the gator after is up to the hunter.

"You can eat the meat, you can tan the hide, you can mount the head, there’s no waste," said Arrington.

"Yeah I would like to cook some gator burgers," added Spies.

Arrington will be back in public waters doing this till the end of the season in November. 

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