Adventure Outdoors Magazine Summer 2016 - Page 29

Florida Swamplands and Louisiana Bayou A long stretch of low-lying country conducts a symphony in the Gulf Coast. Slowly moving through the brackish waters, one can hear each instrument accompany the other, creating an orchestra. The crickets and spoonbills play their strings and percussion, and the tapping of tambourines are mimicked by the heron’s flaps and splashes. Low, muffled bass from a large male gator rattles the river, and the reeds whistle and strum the knees of the cypress trees like woodwinds. Smells of spice and salt fill the hot, dense air. Branches hold hands and form a hood to enclose the dark marsh. The song being played is gentle and soothing, yet full of life and attitude. Welcome to the Bayou. A place where marshlands rule and culture is as deep as the murky waters, the bayou offers some of the best hunting around. It is a completely different environment, and one worth wading through if you’re looking for an exotic big-game hunt, like gator harvesting. Florida and Louisiana are home to the American alligator, among many other creatures, like turtles and a plethora of waterfowl. Take a trip down south, into the swamps of the lower states, for an exciting adventure. When planning your adventure, be sure to note that there is a cost for permits, and there is a limit on tags. There are other states in which you may hunt alligators, but your chances of tagging an authentic wild gator go up once you immerse yourself in their natural habitat. Beware: some programs that offer guided gator hunts will place farm-raised gators in the camp prior to your hunt. That’s how they guarantee a harvest. If you’re looking for a true swampland gator hunting experience, make sure you do proper research when it comes to reviewing guide services. While there are always factors with every program, such as this farm-fed letdown, using guide services is highly recommended, especially when you’re in unfamiliar territory and/or hunting an animal that you’ve never taken before. Even if you find a guide service or hunting lodge that implements the usage of farm-raised alligators, the experience will still be invigorating and a highlight in your year. You’ll get to tag, harvest, and keep your trophy, and you’ll have had an amazing time all the way through. If you’re using less touristy methods, such as contacting a life-long friend in the area to show you the ropes, make sure that person has the proper licensing and equipment. Guide services follow the wildlife regulations, and so should we. You may NOT use firearms in public waters in the state of Florida, and you may not use baiting hooks in public waters, either. These seemingly small, but highly-enforced rules are some of the things you should brush up on (via state wildlife and conservation departments) before you head out for your hunt. Adventure Outdoors Summer 2016 27