South Carolina’s Gator Hunting Lottery: A Golden Ticket for 1,000 Hunters

Last week, South Carolina launched its lottery for the upcoming alligator hunting season, granting an exclusive opportunity for 1,000 lucky hunters.

The permit lottery opens on June 1st and closes on July 15th, with a $10 non-refundable application fee. If selected, hunters must pay a $100 fee for the actual hunting permit.

Post And Courier talked to Jay Butfiloski, the state Department of Natural Resources alligator program coordinator. He told them that the popularity of the hunt was evident when over 9,000 hunters from 40 states applied for permits last year, despite the limited number. 

The season runs from September 9 to October 14, and most visiting hunters come from neighboring states like North Carolina and Georgia.

Butfiloski also stated that the annual public harvest is not primarily aimed at population control. Instead, it provides hunting opportunities and addresses nuisance alligator behavior in public waters.

Alligator Hunting Guidelines

To legally hunt alligators in South Carolina, hunters need a permit for one of the four designated management areas. Southern coastal, Middle coast, Midlands, and Pee Dee, with Lake Marion included in the Midlands unit. 

The middle coast management unit is the most popular for gator hunting due to the abundance of water and alligators. In the lowcountry area alone, 105 alligators were reported last year, with an average length of about 9.2 feet.

Yahoo News reported on the escalating challenge of alligator hunting, citing the use of “harpoons, lines, and death rolls.”

In earlier times, hunters found it easier as the alligators were less cautious and more approachable. However, the behavior of these creatures has evolved over time, making them more elusive and wary of human interaction. Hunters seem to appreciate this change as it presents a more challenging hunt.

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Hunters must follow specific rules during the season. Each permit allows hunting within a designated zone, chosen during the lottery process. 

Hunters are limited to harvesting one alligator per permit in their chosen zone. Even if they do not successfully hunt an alligator, permit holders must report their activity to the Department of Natural Resources.

The excitement intensifies with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources rule, stating, “no rifles allowed.” It is specified that rifles are not permitted, with handguns only being allowed for “dispatching the animal.”

With a population of approximately 100,000 alligators in South Carolina, there’s no shortage of these reptiles for eager hunting enthusiasts.

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About the author: Kimber Pearce is a student, an avid shooter, and a pro-2A advocate.

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