Alligator trapping tips

Catching alligators is not that difficult. Francis Motichek has been trapping alligators for over 25 years. He has a number of suggestions for beginning trappers:

• Talk to an experienced trapper if possible. Doing so can save time and mistakes.

• Do some scouting. Ride the area at night with a spotlight and see where the gators are. Cuts and where smaller drains come into a larger water body are always good locations.

• Get the proper gear. He uses 12/0 hooks and 700- to 900-pound-test line.

• Chicken leg quarters work great for bait. Letting them “age” for two or three days prior to setting makes them awfully tasty (to a gator).

• There are lots of ways to make a set. In the marsh, a 2-foot cane pole, stuck 3 feet in the mud, can be hung out over the water. The line is held on the end of the pole with a clothes pin and the bait suspended 12 to 18 inches (depending upon gator size) above the water. When the gator grabs the bait, the line pulls free from the clothes pin. Francis uses 75-100 feet of line for a marsh set. 40-50 feet of line would probably work better in the swamp, where there are more things to tangle on.

• Dispatch gators by shooting them with a .22 in the “sweet spot” at the back of the skull. An ear or eye shot will do in a pinch, to slow them down.

• Alligators must be skinned in a specific way. Nicks and cuts in the wrong places will seriously diminish the value of the hide. Skinning a small alligator is not that difficult. Skinning a large gator can be quite an ordeal. Many trappers make arrangements to sell their gators whole, and let the buyers skin them.

• Moticheck loves the taste of gator: “I marinate it in Italian dressing, green onions and Creole seasoning, then cook it on the grill. It is outstanding.”

Editor’s note: This article is part of the We’re all ‘Swamp People’ feature in the July issue of Louisiana Sportsman. Digital editions can be downloaded right to your computer or smartphone.

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