Most children dream of murdering giant alligators, and this fantasy became reality for a suburban Houston high school senior when the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department allowed him to kill an 800-pound gator who had lived for many decades in the relative safety of a wildlife management preserve.
The 14-foot 3-inch reptile was between 30 and 50 years old, according to the state wildlife agency.
Braxton Bielski, 18, lives in a wealthy suburb of Houston bordered by George Bush Park. Many children love dinosaurs, but Braxton specifically wanted to kill dinosaurs. The American alligator, a living fossil, is about as close as you can get these days. So Bielski's dad got a coveted permit to hunt gators at the James E. Daughtrey Wildlife Management Area south of San Antonio.
Hunting alligators is precision work that takes maximum skill. First, you must put some chicken meat on a big hook and leave that in the muddy water. Then, later, you come back and see if any alligators in the wildlife management area made the mistake of eating a dead bird with a big hook inside. Now stuck on the line, the helpless alligator waits in agony for the hunters to return and shoot it to death.
The popularity “Swamp People,” a television program on the History Channel centered around commercial alligator hunters has triggered a surge of interest in alligator hunting. This year, TPWD offered 165 alligator permits through its public hunting program, with hunts conducted on five of the agency’s WMAs. More than 2,000 people–2,340, to be exact–applied for those permits.
Florida wildlife officials recently said they expect to receive 10,000-15,000 applications for the 5,000 $272 alligator tags they will issue for that state’s 2013 alligator season.