Georgia’s 2016 alligator season is well under way, and one local group of gator chasers had a memorable hunt – down at Huckleberry Pond.
Trey Lord and his wife Magon, hunting last weekend with Chris Farris and hunting guide Michael Evans, brought home an 11-foot, seven-inch monster that will unquestionably rank among the largest reptiles taken this year in Zone 9, which includes Burke, Glascock, Richmond and other east Georgia counties.
Lord was among the lucky recipients drawn for one of the 1,000 tags issued statewide this year by Georgia’s Wildlife Resources Division, which typically receives more than 11,000 applications.
The bowhunting party rigged up with Gator-Aider high-capacity reel/float devices that were designed and patented by Augusta’s own “Tracker Jack” Woods.
“It is an amazing product that I highly recommend,” said Evans, who operates Cherry Hill Hunting Preserve near Sparta, Ga.
“Five of the last seven years, we have used it to take the largest gator for the year in Zone 9.”
Having the right equipment only works if you know where to hunt – so exactly where is this “Huckleberry Pond?”
“Actually it was in the Savannah River,” Evans said. “But here in Hancock County, there’s a fictional place called Huckleberry Pond where all of the biggest fish (and gators) are caught – so people don’t have to reveal their secret fishing spots!”
For more information on the Gator-Aider, visit http://www.trackerjacksinc.com/ and go to http://LetsHunt.net/ for details about Cherry Hill Hunting Preserve, which also offers quail hunts and other activities.
Georgia’s 2016 gator season opened Aug. 19 and closes Oct. 3. Last year, about 1,100 tags were issued, yielding a harvest of 325 gators (a success rate of 29 percent), according to a summary by state alligator biologist Greg Waters. Additionally, licensed nuisance alligator agent-trappers annually remove about 450 alligators in the state
Statewide, the average length of a harvested gator last year was 102 inches (8 feet, 6 inches), with the largest being 169 inches (14 feet, one inch).
ARCHERY OPENS: Archers will get the first opportunity at bringing home a deer beginning Saturday, Sept. 10.
Last year, 132,641 archery hunters harvested more than 66,039 deer. Statewide, hunters can use archery equipment throughout the entire 2016-2017 deer season (ending Jan. 8, 2017).
“The early part of archery season occurs before mature bucks shift into their fall movement patterns,” said state deer program coordinator Charlie Killmaster. “With their home range near its smallest at this time of year, hunters should concentrate on food sources closest to thick cover for the best chance at an early-season buck.”
SOUTH CAROLINA DOVE LIMIT: Dove hunters in South Carolina need to remember that the daily limit this year has been reduced from 15 to 12.
The decision followed a new analysis of harvest success and hunter preferences, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
“The 2015-2016 season again saw one of the lowest harvest rates since the department began collecting information in 2003,” the department said in announcing the change.
“During that season, the average number of doves harvested by hunters on public fields was 2.75.”
The 2016-2017 South Carolina mourning dove season is Sept. 3-5 (noon until sunset); Sept. 6 – Oct. 15; Nov. 12-26; and Dec. 15 – Jan. 15.
Georgia’s season also opened this weekend, with statewide daily bag limits remaining at 15 birds.
Georgia’s 2016-17 seasons are: Sept. 3-18; Oct. 8-28; and Nov. 24 to Jan. 15.
PEANUTS MOVIE: Anyone who has ever hunted doves or deer over peanut fields can appreciate Georgia’s role as the nation’s No. 1 producer of the globally significant commodity.
But how much do you know about them?
Burke County filmmaker Joseph Barnhart has spent the last several years completing his documentary, Growing Peanut Butter, and will offer the first public screening of his movie at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6, at the Burke County Library in Waynesboro, Ga.
The film covers the history, production and versatility of the important crop.
The event is free but since seating is limited, attendees are asked to call Barnhart at 706-871-4436 to reserve space.