by Wayne Nichols
If it’s already pushing 100° now, just imagine how hot August is going to be. Gator hunting in Florida can be a real challenge at times, even on private lands. Spring time temperatures are about perfect, as well as late fall or Winter. The reason being mid-morning and evening temps are usually around the high 70’s to lower 80’s. With the slightly cooler temps alligators will crawl up on to the banks to sun and warm up and also to help digest their food. With cooler air temps gators will lay around for hours sometimes and are not very active. This gives hunters a chance to get in close without the risk of spooking them much. But, when it’s hot like it is now you can have the opposite effect. Gators like sunshine, they need it…but wearing a leather jacket this time of year and sunning just doesn’t mix. Gators can have a heat stroke same as you and I. So when they climb out of the water this time of year it usually isn’t for very long, especially big ones. Often times while conducting a spot-n-stalk in the summer your gator will crawl back in the water before you get close enough for a good shot. With high temperatures gators aren’t lying around sleeping and relaxing and are very alert, not the best combo for a spot-n-stalk.
Heat also can give you an advantage though, while hunting with baits. Summer time high temperatures make gators active and hungry; the heat can help speed up their metabolism making them constantly willing to take a bait. Baiting can be a huge advantage to taking a big wary gator. When stalking isn’t getting the job done, a bait normally will. You get the opposite effect in winter, easy to stalk but won’t take baits. Gators need higher temps to digest their food, so when we get lasting colder weather gators simply don’t eat (below 68° for a length of time). Calls work great from spring through fall. Adult gators readily come to calls, especially hatchling sounds. A great method we like is to set you up in between the call and the gator, usually around the 100 yard mark; with the call on one end, you in the middle, and the gator on the other end. Public gator season is right around the corner. Make sure you read up on all the current laws and regulations to make sure you’re legal in your methods. As always take a kid hunting or fishing when you get a chance. Y’all stay safe out there.