In just a few days the hunt will be on for gators in South Georgia. Each thousands of hunters apply for the chance to harvest a monster reptile, and wildlife experts say there's a reason why the sport has gotten so popular.
"It's becoming very popular," said DNR Wildlife Biologist John Denton, who says the popularity of reality TV shows like Swamp People have helped spur interest in gator hunting.
"People see those shows and really see that they can do it and it's group activity that can be a lot of fun," said Denton.
And the proof is in the numbers- In 2003 about 2500 people applied for gator quota hunts. In 2012 that number was more than 11,000. Of that number only 850 people are selected. It's based on a point system. But even if you can't harvest a gator, you can still go along on the hunt.
"We do allow assistants to go and all they have to do is buy an alligator hunting license on top of their hunting and they go along with someone who got drawn for the quota," said Denton.
It's a team effort for anyone going after that monster gator. It took several assistants to bring in a 726 pound gator taken over the weekend in Mississippi. The record in Georgia set three years ago when hunters snagged a 13 foot 9 inch swamp monster from the waters of Lake Seminole.
And while there are many gators lurking in the waters, finding the behemoth prize is not always that easy.
"I think a lot of them either get taken or they move to a very secluded spot. Because that's usually a very old gator, very wise, and they know how not to get taken," said Denton.
The quest for the new record starts Saturday, and runs through October 6th. The quota is one gator per hunter and must be over four feet long. Last year 247 alligators were harvested throughout nine hunting zones.
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