Why Does Louisiana Have Alligator Hunting Season?

Did you know why Louisiana holds an alligator hunting season in the late summer and early fall each year?

According to Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries, Louisiana’s program has been adopted worldwide by conservationists for its effectiveness in keeping alligators and crocodile ecosystems balanced. Gator hunting tags are divided into east and west zones, and each has its own 30 day season. The east zone opens the last Wednesday in August, and the west zone opens the first Wednesday of September.

“The goals of LDWF’s wild alligator harvest program are to manage and conserve Louisiana’s alligators as part of the state’s wetland ecosystem, provide benefits to the species, its habitat and the other species of fish and wildlife associated with alligators.” – louisiana.gov

Gator hunting was outlawed in 1962 due to over harvesting in the 1950s. The state began focusing on preservation efforts through research and ecological testing, resulting in a world class, biologically sound management and harvest program. Alligator populations quickly returned to normal between 1962 and 1972 while this program was implemented, resulting in a boom of hatchlings that quickly matured. It was determined that a new study was needed to manage the population, and Cameron Parish initiated a closely regulated commercial wild alligator harvest in September of 1972, leading to the early versions of the hunting season we now have in place.

Each year, approximately 35,000 hunting tags are given out to 2,000 hunters to maintain this ecological balance, providing significant economic and ecological benefits to our state. Alligators may be harvested from sunrise to sunset only, and may only be hunted with firearms (no shotguns), hook and line, or bow and arrow. Baited hooks must be cast no earlier than 24 hours before the season begins. All unused tags must be returned to the state within 15 days of the end of the season.

September and October is prime gator watching season, so book your tour today by calling 337.228.7880! To read more about gator season in Louisiana, visit: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/alligator-hunting-regulations-overview.

Celebrating 20 Years on the Atchafalaya Basin

20 years of blood, sweat and tears.

Reflecting on the 20 years you’ve been in business will make you come to many realizations, two of which hit you right off the bat – time really does fly, and you know a lot of dead people. Sitting at the round table in Turtle’s and digging up bones in a treasure chest of old, tobacco stained photos, we stop and laugh at the memories that are instantly brought to mind as though they happened yesterday. And we can’t help but wonder if those memories are as fond to the individuals in the pictures as they are to us.

A Great History

Much like any other business that’s been around a while, so many things have come from the small seed that started it all. Back in 1999 when Tucker Friedman purchased Atchafalaya Basin Landing & Marina, there was no Turtle’s Bar, no airboat swamp tour business, and certainly no website, Facebook page, or blog posts.

As Tucker just mentioned while looking at pictures of houseboats he’s built or docks he’s constructed, he certainly was able to accomplish a lot on his own in his younger days. He should give a shout out, though, to Band-Aid and Coors Light for getting him through those years. There was also so much more
accomplished with the help of others who fell into our life here. The Good Lord certainly knew who to send our way. Too many names to mention, but all those who had a hand in building Turtle’s Bar, the deck, the airboats or the houseboats will always be a part of this place and its success. And we will eternally be grateful.

Where Turtle’s Bar is now located, was once nothing more than a screened-in porch that housed the bait shop for the Marina. Little did those floors know of what characters and memories they would soon hold. The General Store, which now has an extensive gift shop, bait room, and plenty of floor area and restrooms for a busy summer weekend, was once merely a tiny store where you could simply purchase necessities for a day on the water.

A Business Is Born

The airboat swamp tour business came to be innocently enough. Tucker and his friend, Jack Lane, both had purchased airboats, for fun. They were small, 3-4 passenger airboats that they could easily blast off from the landing and into the swamp with a few friends after a long, hot day of work. More and more often, tourists were stopping in and asking for a ride on the airboats. The guys didn’t even charge them. It didn’t take long for them to realize they were on to something, and they couldn’t afford to keep doing it for free – and that marked the beginning of the airboat business.

Jack eventually moved on to follow other work, but Tucker soon purchased the first of our larger airboats, a 6 passenger. Many years have passed since
then, and we now have the largest airboat fleet around, with 5 total. And we aren’t letting up any time soon. We look so forward to the next 20 years and what they have in store for us. So many new people who will come our way and bring just as much joy to us as we hopefully will bring to them.

Many things have changed over the last 20 years. Some changes we laughed about, some we cried about. But we never gave up, and we never will. Our family has grown stronger than ever and now the torch is slowly being passed to the next generation. Tucker may soon finally be able to sit in his rocking chair on the porch and hand out fishing reports-like he keeps saying he wants to do.

We’ll believe it when we see it.

All Things Spring

Ahhhh, Springtime in the Basin. We’ve seen unusually high water for this early in the year, compounded by high winds, has made the business of airboat tours a fun one (ie: challenging) . I’m not sure when the last time you’ve tried to spin an airboat around to park in 20 mph winds, but it’s tough! We’re tougher, though, so it’s working out.

These conditions have also made for a slow start to fishing. In the last few days we’ve finally gotten very good reports on bream, chinquapin and a few sac-a-lait. Crickets and wax worms seem to be the bait of choice right now. Bream can be found anywhere you can find 2-3 feet of water, on the mounds or ridges. Did you know that you can actually smell a bed of bream? The air has a very distinct fishy smell near the beds. A sustained high water period will usually lead to a very good spawning season.

As far as wildlife is concerned, mating season has begun for the alligators. It’s not in full swing yet, but the males have definitely starting courting their girls. Alligator populations are exceptionally high since the alligator hunters haven’t been meeting their usual annual quotas due to the drop in prices. This is due to the decrease in demand for their hides.

We’ve noticed that the osprey eggs are starting to hatch. Ospreys are members of the falcon family, which means they can rotate their talons 180 degrees. When they dive down and catch a fish, they always turn the fish head first to make flying with it more aerodynamic. 

Without any major local rainfall, it looks like we should miss any catastrophic flooding. If there’s a slow fall on the horizon, that will make for excellent fishing and an extended crawfish season. Bon Appetit!