By Jim “Pappy” Moore
There are about one hundred counties in Texas which have some presence of alligators, mainly in East Texas, starting north of Gilmer and running down the thick part of East Texas and hugging the coastal regions to just south of Corpus Christi. Counties north and west of that region also have some alligators, but they are fewer in number.
There are twenty-two counties which are considered “core” counties, and they have an open season which is September 10th through the 30th each year. Other counties, including Upshur County, have their open season for alligators from April 1st through June 30th.
The core counties are Angelina, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Matagorda, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Refugio, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Trinity, Tyler and Victoria counties. All the other counties are “non-core” counties, including those in the areas east, north and west of Gilmer.
You must have a license to hunt alligators, and there are rules about acquiring the license and where they can be taken. You can take them from private lands where you have a right to be. You cannot take them on public lands or waters, unless you are on private land when you take them, or unless you have a specific permit allowing it. There are a variety of ways you can hunt them, but you should consult the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to get all the rules for hunting alligators. You can find them at their site firstname.lastname@example.org. I strongly urge you to visit their site and follow all their rules if you want to hunt alligators.
Alligators are not an endangered species. They are plentiful in most of East Texas. If you spend any time around our rivers and lakes, you’ve seen them. Most of them are not huge, but there are some big ones out there. The males grow to be larger than the females, but even the biggest ones typically top out at thirteen feet and six hundred pounds. That’s still a lot of alligator. They’re a huge compilation of strong muscles, in a build made for gliding stealthily through the water, barely visible even when their eyes are above the surface of the water.
Alligators are meat eaters, and they will eat just about anything that is meat, including other alligators. They are quick, ambush predators, and can snatch an unsuspecting animal along the shore in a heartbeat.
While there have been several humans in Florida killed by gators, there are supposedly no known instances in Texas of fatal attacks on humans by alligators. That said, they’re predators, they populate many waters where humans swim and play on the shore, and they’re fully capable of taking a child, a dog, or an adult. Males during breeding season can be testy, and females who are protecting their nests can be aggressive.
The word “alligator” has been around the past three hundred years. The term is a mangling of the Spanish word for “lizard,” which is “el legarto,” a reference to its large, lizard like appearance. No doubt, some Spaniard in the late 1600s who was exploring the Gulf Coast came across this large lizard and the name we use – alligator – was born.
There’s more I want to say about these creatures, but one column will not hold it all, so I’ll save more information about them for a future column. Until then, I’ll have to say “see you later, alligator!”
Copyright 2023, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.