Throughout the United States there is a common thread among outdoorsmen who enjoy the hunting experience — the pursuit of the local game animals. In the extreme southern tier of states, which are east of the Mississippi River, whitetail deer and wild turkeys attract the bulk of the big game hunters.
The state of Louisiana has a unique game animal attracting attention: the alligator. The bayou species has spread from the Gulf of Mexico and along the delta of the Mississippi River. This prehistoric reptile has a growing population that is warranting recreational hunting to help curb the ever increasing numbers.
The local population has been hunting the alligator for generations, so it is very much a part of the Cajun culture. Alligator meat is considered a delicacy for family consumption, and is being sold commercially to restaurants throughout the country. In addition, the hide is extremely valuable as a leather product for making shoes, boots, wallets and purses for high-end department stores.
Longtime local veterinarian Dr. Alan Hallman, accompanied by his son Rand, made the trip to bayou country in hopes of harvesting a mature ’gator. The pair has traveled throughout the world enjoying the hunting experience as a father-son team and this was another chapter in their adventures.
Rand received the International Youth Hunter Award presented by the Safari Club in 2005 for his extensive volunteer conservation work while he was a student at Payson High School. His involvement included numerous projects by the Mogollon Sports Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Rand was able to accomplish this while being an athlete on the Payson Longhorn football team and a member of the National Honor Society. He is currently finishing a degree in wildlife biology at Arizona State University and hopes to pursue a career in the outdoors.
In the three days of exploring the bayous, this father and son team saw more than 300 alligators; many were in the 8- to 10-foot range and considered mature trophy animals. Nearing the end of their stay, they spotted a behemoth 11-foot ’gator, which tipped the scale at nearly 500 pounds. A carefully placed shot with a 270 rifle completed the hunt.
Louisiana offers this unique big-game hunt because of healthy conservation measures of sportsmen where the population of alligators has grown to more than one-half million in the bayou state.
This is another successful story of big game making a comeback because of the work of hunters volunteering with game management agencies of a state.
This weekend enjoy the Arizona outdoors, God’s creation.