Arkansas hunters harvested more alligators than ever in the 2020 alligator season, which was held the third and fourth weekends in September in three hunting zones in the lower half of the state.
Included in that harvest was the longest alligator taken since the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission began setting an annual alligator hunting season. The ‘gator measured one-half-inch shy of 14 feet and weighed 800 pounds.
The alligator was taken by Travis Bearden, Gary Bearden, Cody Bearden and Tommy Kelley. The length and weight were verified by Game and Fish personnel. The Bearden clan — Travis with his dad and one of his brothers — and Kelley were hunting from a boat.
Collectively, 170 alligators were taken in the state on both public and private land. The previous record for alligator harvest was the 98 taken in the 2017 season, said Mark Barbee, a Game and Fish wildlife regional supervisor in southeast Arkansas and coordinator of the alligator hunt.
“This has been our first season going to a quota system for our private land hunting, and it went great,” Barbee said. “People followed the protocol. Everybody did what was asked to make it a successful hunt. You couldn’t have asked for better weekends to hunt either with the weather. The nights were cool and the days didn’t get too hot.”
The record alligator was taken on Merrisach Lake near Arkansas Post near the start of the season. Game and Fish does not maintain an official state record on alligators, but has recorded data on length since beginning the annual alligator harvest in 2007
Alligator hunting is by permit only in Arkansas. Game and Fish issued 38 public hunting permits, with hunting allowed only on designated areas.
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