Alligator hunting can be traced way back to the early days in Egypt. The American alligators didn’t gain any recognition until the mid-1800s.
They are found mostly in the swampy fresh-water lakes and marshes of southeastern United States, from Florida to Texas.
These cold-blooded reptiles grow to an average of ten to twelve feet in length and can weigh a thousand pounds, though some have been harvested almost double that size.
The life expectancy is akin to a dog’s, ten to twelve years.
As pioneers left the northeast and journeyed south and west to settle in the new lands, some found their way to Louisiana. It is there in the mid-1800s, settlers started diligently hunting gators for their meat, hides, and oil.
The demand for gator hides proved sporadic, dwindling just before the 1860s, but then with the Civil War, it once again gained popularity—at least with the Confederates who supplied their troops with shoes and boots made from alligator hide.
By the late 1860s, alligator leather was the most favorite of all other leathers for high fashion because companies in New York, New Jersey, and Europe started tanning the Louisiana alligator hides commercially, making them softer, more flexible and durable.
There are several methods of hunting—or fishing—for gators. Stout rope with a big hook is tied to a stout limb that overhangs the swampy waters. The hook can be baited with a spoiled chicken or duck quarter or a large fish.
The hunters set these hooks along a section of the swamp or river then go back later in the day to check their lines much like a fisherman and a trotline. Checking those lines, that’s when it can get tricky.
A taunt line indicates a gator has been snagged. Hooked, the reptile retreats as deep as the rope allows and must be pulled hand over hand up to the side of the boat where it's shot or bludgeoned. The kill zone is only about as big as a man’s fist.
Another method is snagging a swimming gator with a treble hook attached to a strong line, pulling it to the boat and repeat what needs to be done to get it into the boat with you (dead).
Hunting an alligator alone is an extremely challenging endeavor. In my novel BITTER HONEY (1855), my hero’s mentor was such a man. Fashioned after the rugged individualist of his day, in a shallow draft skiff, he would pull the gator to the side of the boat then dispatch them with a spiked club.
I cannot imagine doing something so dangerous for money, but there are men who have and still do hunt gator in that fashion. I wanted my young hero to have such a man as a mentor. I believe he matured into a strong man himself for it.
BITTER HONEY is my FIFTIETH title published and my newest release, book 22 in the Lockets and Lace Collection. Get your copy today! Only $2.99!
In fifty years, from the late 1800s into the twentieth century, hunters harvested over three and a half million Louisiana gators. Today, that number is in excess of three hundred thousand each year.
BIO: Award-winning Author Caryl McAdoo prays her story brings God glory! And her best-selling novels are blessed with a lion’s share of 5-Star ratings! With fifty-and-counting titles, she loves writing as well as singing the new songs the Lord gives her—listen to a few at YouTube.
She and Ron, her high school sweetheart, share four children and eighteen grandsugars. The McAdoos live in the woods south of Clarksville, seat of Red River County, in far Northeast Texas, waiting expectantly for God to open the next door.
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