First week of 2017 gator hunt in the books

Unofficial 2017 West Central Alabama River Alligator Hunt Results – Week 1
 
Night 1 – 08/10/17:
01 – Janet Holt (Tallassee) – 7’ 9”, 109 lbs., M
02 – Wilford Holt (Tallassee) – 9’ 2”, 216 lbs., M
03 – Sam Scott (Monroeville) – 8’ 1”, 122 lbs., M
04 – Patrick Stabler (Frisco City) – 12’ 7”, 607 lbs., M
 
Night 2 – 08/11/17
05 – Brent Hatcher (Wetumpka) – 8’ 2.5”, 131.5 lbs., F
06 – Jeremy Guthrie (Ohatchee) – 8’ 6”, 152 lbs., M
07 – Brad Reaves (Ohatchee) – 7’ 3”, 86.5 lbs.
 
Night 3 – 08/12/17
08 – Lewis Prince (Childersburg) – 7’ 9”, 126 lbs., F
09 – Rex Jones (Selma) – 7’ 7”, 93 lbs., M
10 – Ashley Sparks (Decatur) – 6’ 9”, 61.5 lbs., M
11 – Sterling Brothers (Alexander City) – 8’ 11”, 175.5 lbs., M
12 – Brad Kelly (Thorsby) – 8’ 4”, 129.5 lbs., M

From left, Patrick Stabler (Tag holder, Frisco City), J.T. Dailey (Camden), and Craig Gamble (Camden) with week one big gator they caught around Chilatchee Creek on the Alabama River. The gator was 12′ 7″, 607 pounds. (WAW | James Lawler)

West Central Alabama Alligator Hunting Season – Unofficial Results – Weekend One

The 2016 Alabama Alligator Hunting season opened last weekend, beginning Thursday night at 8 p.m. and ending Sunday morning at 6 a.m. Hunters were able to hunt from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. nightly. The West Central region covers private and public waters from Dallas County south to the Highway 84 bridge in Monroe County. A total of 17 gators were harvested in the opening weekend. All harvests were weighed in at Roland Cooper State Park on the banks of the Alabama River in Camden.

The season continues this weekend nightly from Thursday through Sunday morning. The West Alabama Watchman will partner with James ‘Big Daddy’ Lawler of the Gettin’ Outdoors Radio Network to bring you coverage.

Thursday Night Results

Nick Cochran (Alpine) – 8′ 8″, 191 lbs., F

Tyler Johnson (Scottsboro) – 7′ 5″, 105 lbs., F

Gator Mike Gifford – (Eufaula) – 7′ 6″, 141.5 lbs, M

James Lee Coe (Columbiana) – 7′ 9″, 130 lbs., M

 

Friday Night Results

Jake Rosser (Stevenson) – 7′ 2″, 85 lbs., M

Wesley Ann Terry (Camden)- 12′ 4 1/2″, 547 lbs. M

Karl Breland (Huntsville) – 7′ 9″, 149.5 lbs., M

Larry Hatchett (Shelby) – 11′ 3″, 449 lbs., M

Neal Posey (Selma) – 11′ 4″, 420.5 lbs., M

Jacob Walker (Pike Road) – 6′ 8″, 75 lbs., F

Ethan Tyree – 10′ 10″, 318 lbs., M

 

Saturday Night Results

Joseph Gann (Trussville) – 7′ 7″, 100 lbs., M

Dudley Oglesby (Ozark) – 8′ 3″, 156 lbs., F

Jarrod Pettie (Andalusia) – 11′ 2″, 380 lbs., M

Brian Robertson (Vinemont) – 6′ 2″, 61 lbs., F

Jessica Guy (Dickerson) – 12′ 6″, 562 lbs., M

Louie Wallace (Thomasville) – 5′ 11″, 39 lbs., F

547-pound gator taken in Wilcox County

08-13-16 -- Camden, Ala. -- From left, Jason Broadhead, Wesley Ann Terry, along with husband Steve Terry made up the first team to weigh in their harvest early Saturday morning around 1 a.m. Wesley Ann was the tagholder, and said they wrestled with the 547-pound, 12-foot four-and-a-half gator for an hour. The gator was harvested near Cobb's Landing on the Alabama River in Wilcox County. (WAW | Stewart Gwin)

08-13-16 — Camden, Ala. — From left, Jason Broadhead, Wesley Ann Terry, along with husband Steve Terry made up the first team to weigh in their harvest around 1 a.m. Saturday. Wesley Ann was the tag holder, and said they wrestled with the 547-pound, 12-foot four-and-a-half-inch gator for an hour. The gator was harvested near Cobb’s Landing on the Alabama River in Wilcox County. (WAW | Stewart Gwin)

 

08-13-16 -- Camden, Ala. -- From left, David Hayes, David Hatchett, Pam Nettles, Larry Hatchett, Jaden Carson, and Tiffany Carson are shown with their 449-pound, 11-foot three-inch harvest early Saturday morning at Roland Cooper State Park in Wilcox County. The gator was harvested near Little Miami in Dallas County on the Alabama River. (WAW | Stewart Gwin)

08-13-16 — Camden, Ala. — From left, David Hayes, David Hatchett, Pam Nettles, Larry Hatchett, Jaden Carson, and Tiffany Carson are shown with their 449-pound, 11-foot three-inch harvest early Saturday morning at Roland Cooper State Park in Wilcox County. The gator was harvested near Little Miami in Dallas County on the Alabama River. (WAW | Stewart Gwin)

 

08-13-16 -- Camden, Ala. -- From left, Byron jones, Blake Jones, tagholder Neal Posey, Wesley Smith, Jake Brown, Blake Smith, and Clint Norris weigh in their 420.5-pound, 11-foot four-inch alligator harvested near Sardis on the Alabama River in Dallas County. (WAW | Stewart Gwin)

08-13-16 — Camden, Ala. — From left, Byron jones, Blake Jones, tag holder Neal Posey, Wesley Smith, Jake Brown, Blake Smith, and Clint Norris weigh in their 420.5-pound, 11-foot four-inch alligator harvested near Sardis on the Alabama River in Dallas County. (WAW | Stewart Gwin)

Patience a virtue in quest for alligator hunting tag

Eufaula gator 15

Last year’s largest alligator was taken at Lake Eufaula by, from left, Scott Evans, Jeff Gregg and Justin Gregg. The gator measured 13 feet, 6 inches and weighed 920 pounds. (Contributed Photo)

The old axiom that patience is a virtue is especially true for those who applied for an alligator tag for Alabama’s upcoming season.

Before 2014, getting picked in the random drawing was truly luck of the draw. In 2014, a preference points system was implemented, but it takes a little time before it influences who gets drawn.

Chris Nix, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division’s Alligator Program Coordinator, said applicants who didn’t get picked this year are frustrated, but he insists that the current preference system just needs a little more time to work as designed.

“The big topic is the lack of clarity of the applications on the selection process,” Nix said. “They want to know why some people are getting tags, and why they’re not getting tags. It’s been a chore this year to explain how our preference points system works.”

The application process starts around the first of June each year and is open for about six weeks. Interested parties can apply one time in each of the four alligator zones. Once the application period ends, WFF officials start the selection process, which involves the preference points system. Those selected have seven days to log back into the same page on outdooralabama.com and confirm their selection.

“Everyone who applied gets one entry for the current year,” Nix said. “Everyone who has applied in previous years and did not receive a tag the prior year will receive preference points. The preference points are accumulated by the number of years you have consistently (without interruption) applied and not received a tag. That number of years is then cubed to give the number of preference points.

“Last year was the first so the most points they could have was one. It’s going to be another year or two before we start seeing the benefits of this. This year, the most points they could have is eight. But next year, it’ll be 27. We’re going to get there, but it’s going to take a little bit of patience. It grows quickly, which is the way we set it up.”

When the selection process starts, all applicants with preference points are separated from those applicants without preference points. When the drawing starts, 85 percent of the available tags will be pulled from applicants with preference points. The other 15 percent of the tags will go to those with no preference points. Those applicants who receive a tag will have all preference points erased.

“It skews odds in favor of people who have consistently applied and not received a tag,” Nix said. “But everyone has the opportunity to get a tag. Those 15 percent are going to go to people who have not applied before or received a tag last year. But because you received a tag last year doesn’t mean you don’t have a chance to get one. We had some people who drew tags in back to back years.”

Nix has to explain to some people that although the preference points system is in place that sometimes it just comes down to the luck of the draw.

“When you pay that $22 administration fee, everyone has the opportunity,” he said. “Some people are lucky and some people aren’t. If I had every $5 I’ve spent on raffle tickets for a Yeti cooler, I could probably go buy three.”

Nix said one example of the luck of the draw is that Mandy Stokes, who caught the world-record alligator at 15 feet 9 inches and 1,011.5 pounds in 2014, did not get drawn this year, much to her chagrin.

Public interest has remained steady to increasing every year, according to Nix. Applications peaked the year after Stokes’ gator drew worldwide attention, coupled with the establishment of a separate zone for Lake Eufaula. This year there were 3,845 applications for 260 tags statewide. There were 3,014 applications in 2014 and 4,137 in 2015.

The Southwest Zone, which had 150 tags available, includes the private and public waters in Baldwin and Mobile Counties and private and public waters in Washington, Clarke, and Monroe Counties that lie east of U.S. Highway 43 and south of U.S. Highway 84.2015 we had 4,137 applications with the addition of a separate zone for Lake Eufaula. This zone was previously called the Mobile-Tensaw Delta Zone. That zone’s hunting dates are from 8 p.m. August 11, 2016 until 6 a.m. August 14, 2016 and from 8 p.m. August 18, 2016until 6 a.m. August 21, 2016.

“In the Delta, the hunting has been consistent,” Nix said. “The harvest has fluctuated right around the 100-gator mark the last few years. A lot of that has to do with hunter selection. I’m sure all the tags could be filled in the Delta if they just wanted a gator. Human nature is for hunters to target the larger animals. There are a lot of 8- and 9-foot gators out there. But hunters had rather go home empty-handed instead of just killing an animal. For the large majority, if they have the opportunity to take a 10-foot or better gator, they will take it. That’s a very respectable animal.”

The West Central Alabama Zone, where the Stokes gator was taken, includes the private and public waters in Monroe (north of U.S. Highway 84), Wilcox, and Dallas Counties. Last year, hunters filled 25 tags. Hunting dates to fill this year’s 50 tags are the same as the Southwest Zone.

The Southeast Alabama Zone, which has 40 tags, includes the private and public waters in Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Russell Counties (excluding public Alabama state waters in Walter F. George Reservoir (Lake Eufaula) and its navigable tributaries). Season dates are from 8 p.m. Aug. 13, 2016 to 6 a.m. Sept. 5, 2016

The Lake Eufaula Zone, which has 20 tags, includes the public Alabama state waters only in the Walter F. George Reservoir (Lake Eufaula) and its navigable tributaries, south of Hwy 208, Omaha Bridge, (excluding Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge). The largest gator from the 2015 season was taken at Lake Eufaula. That gator, caught by Scott Evans and crew, was 13 feet, 6 inches long and weight 920 pounds.

Nix said all the regulations regarding the alligator hunts are covered in detail in the mandatory training, but there is one safety measure that sometimes gets ignored.

“The biggest issue we have is people not wanting to turn on the running lights on their boats,” he said. “We stress that heavily in the class from a safety aspect. One of our officers had a close encounter with a boat because they didn’t have their running lights on.”

Nix said Alabama alligator hunting has come a long way since the season opened in 2006. A total of 50 tags were distributed the first year in only one zone. Three additional zones have been added since, and Nix said there could be more in the future.

“The line for natural breeding populations is somewhere near Montgomery,” he said. “We know there are some alligators north of there. We’re planning to survey the Tallapoosa and Alabama rivers soon, and we’re going to do another on the Tombigbee River. We know alligators are there. We just have to get the data to build trends to make sure additional or expanded hunting zones are justified.”

For those who love to watch the alligators being weighed in, that opportunity will again be available in the West Central Zone at Roland Cooper State Park and in the Southwest Alabama Zone at WFF office on the Causeway.

David Rainer is public information manager and outdoor columnist for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. His column appears weekly in The West Alabama Watchman. 

THS band director is no stranger to Thomasville

By Carolyn Drinkard

Special to The Watchman

James Boyett has been hired as the band director at Thomasville High School.

Boyett earned both a Bachelors’ and Masters’ Degree from the University of North Alabama. He performed with the UNA “Pride of Dixie Marching Band”, the Concert Band, Wind Symphony, brass ensemble, trombone quartet, and the Shoals Symphony Orchestra. He is also a member of the Alabama Music Educators’ Association and the National Association for Music Educators.

IMG_0480Boyett has served as a band director for  9 years, three at Hubbertville School in Fayette County and six at Leroy High School in Washington County.  However, Boyett is no stranger to the Thomasville Community.

“I have been a part of the Flying Bricks Community Band since it was started 6 years ago, “stated Boyett, “I became their official director in December of 2014.  During this time, I have grown to love the Thomasville community and the people who make it such a great place.  I am very much looking forward to working with the students at Thomasville High School and the entire community!”

The THS band currently has 47 students.  Boyett is already working to add new members. ” I plan to do a lot of recruiting and work to make band a fun experience for the students, so that their peers will want to take part in it also. My vision for the Thomasville High School Band is for continued success and growth. ” He also plans to continue to take the students to Area and State competitions.

This summer, the THS Band has been involved in preparation for the upcoming football season. “So far, I have been very impressed with the attitudes and abilities of the students here at Thomasville,” Boyett explained. “The students are very respectful and hard working.”

Th 2015 halftime show promises to be a crowd pleaser with the band performing Daft Punk Medley, Pompeii, and My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ’em Up).

Boyett invited everyone to support and encourage the THS Band Students.

Alabama Alligator Hunt Registration opens June 3

5-24-13 American Alligator by Rick DowlingThe Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) will open registration for the state’s ninth regulated alligator hunts June 3, 2014. Several changes have been made to the hunt rules including a limit of one registration per person, per zone. Registration must be completed online at outdooralabama.com between 8 a.m. June 3 and 8 a.m. July 8.

A total of 240 Alligator Possession Tags will be issued for the hunts, which will be held August 14-17 and August 21-24 in southwest and west central Alabama, and August 8-24 in southeast Alabama.

Fifty tags will be issued for the hunt zone in west central Alabama, which includes Wilcox and Dallas counties and part of Monroe County. Forty tags will be issued for the southeast Alabama zone, which includes Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Russell counties. For the southwest Alabama zone, which includes all of Baldwin and Mobile counties and parts of Washington, Clarke and Monroe counties, 150 tags will be issued.

The administrative fee to apply for an Alligator Possession Tag is $22 and individuals may only register one time per zone. Only Alabama residents and Alabama lifetime license holders ages 16 years or older may apply for tags. Alabama lifetime license holders may apply for an Alligator Possession Tag even if they have moved out of the state. While the cost of the tag is free, selected hunters and their assistants are required to have a valid hunting license in their possession.

Hunters will be randomly chosen by computer to receive one Alligator Possession Tag each, and the tags are non-transferable. If selected for an Alligator Possession Tag at two or more locations, hunters must choose which location they would like to hunt. The slot for locations not chosen will be filled from a list of randomly selected alternates.

Applicants will be able to check their status at outdooralabama.com after the drawing takes place July 8. Those selected to receive a tag must complete an online acceptance by 8 a.m. July 15. After that date, alternates will be notified to fill any vacancies.

Several changes have been implemented for the 2014 alligator hunts. First, the number of tags for the hunts in southeast Alabama was reduced to 40 and a minimum length of 8 feet was instituted to protect females in the reproductive class. Auburn University researchers and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries staff have been concerned about recruitment of hatchlings into the population outside of the Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge. The 8-foot minimum length should increase reproductive capacity and recruitment into the population. There is no minimum length in place for hunts in the southwest or west central areas.

Second, a preference points system is being implemented to increase the odds of being drawn for the hunt as long as individuals continue to register annually. Preference points will be awarded to individuals who are not selected this year but do register for the 2015 hunts.

Third, registration costs were increased to $22 ($20 administrative fee plus a $2 transaction fee per person, per zone) to allow ADCNR to obtain the administrative costs for alligator hunt related expenditures. Individuals will only be allowed to register once per zone instead of multiple times as in years past.

Each person receiving an Alligator Possession Tag will be allowed to harvest one alligator. Hunting hours are 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. in all locations. All Alabama hunting and boating regulations must be followed.

The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is the largest reptile in North America. A fully mature alligator may grow to 14 feet in length and weigh as much as 1,000 pounds. Known for its prized meat and leather, the species was threatened with extinction due to unregulated harvest during the 1920s, 30s and 40s. No regulations existed in those days to limit the number of alligators harvested. In 1938, it is believed that Alabama was the first state to protect alligators by outlawing these harvests. Other states soon followed and in 1967, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the American alligator on the Endangered Species list. By 1987, the species was removed from the Endangered Species list and the alligator population has continued to grow.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.