What kind of tips? Don't grab one by the tail. When you shoot him, make sure you tape his mouth shut, sometimes they aren't very dead and can "wake up", not fun running down the river with a po'd gator in the bottom of the boat. Use a .410 #4 shot, point blank, on the triangle scale right behind the eyes, unless you are on a private hunt then you can use a pistol. Did you draw a hunt, guided hunt, or get a private permit? Using bow and arrow, hook/line or snare?
Private permits (2). I was thinking about using a hook and line but didn't know the details. How big of a hook? Single or treble? Bait? Setup? How high to suspend the bait? What kind of line? Cable? I pretty much need to get info on everything.
15-16/0 hooks will work fine. we make wire leaders and crimp them to the hook, about 5ft long. Then tie that to about a 50ft 500lb rope. Tie the rope to a tree trunk at the edge of the water if possible. Don't use less than 50ft of rope, if your set has to be tied away from the bank add more line to make it where the gator can go about 50ft into the water, as he swims away he might not swallow it immediately so you want to have time for him to get it down good before he gets to the end of the line.
We take about a 20ft heavy cane pole and stick it in the bank at an angle, might need to tie it off to a tree so it won't fall over or prop it up on something. Use a heavy rubber band to band a loop of line to the end so your bait is suspended out of the water and when the gator pulls it will fall easily.
If you know where one hangs out chances are he usually will stay close. find a slide and set up there. If the water is shallow they can stand up half their body length using their tail. So if the water is shallow and you have a big gator then get the bait up 18" or maybe a little more. If not the little ones will grab it and you'll either catch a small one or they'll steal your bait. Make sure though you don't get it too high, in 4-5ft of water I wouldn't go more than 18".
For bait we take a half a chicken and bury the hook in good and tie it up with trotline cord so the hook is not exposed. We tie the bait to the hook and put the leader and bait in a 5 gallon bucket for a few days before we go so it'll be good and rank.
What strength of wire leader? We will be setting up from the bank. Probably using a pole with supports to suspend the bait. The water is shallow (2-3 feet). We plan on skinning and eating our catch. Who buys the hides? I heard the tail meat is the best. True?
I think we use about a 3/16 cable, as long as it is small and at least 5-600lbs or so it's fine, you just want to make sure it isn't thick and stiff. I got mine at Home Depot. Make sure you crimp it good, I've had one pull out before.
I'll look around and see if I still have some info on who buys the hides. I know TPWD has a list, they'd probably send you one. I can't remember if I kept mine.
The tail meat is probably the best along with the jowls. We give the rest away, my brother in law tried grilling/smoking a shoulder but said it wasn't fit to eat.
I kept my first hide and had it tanned and had some boots made. I have another one in the freezer that I need to get tanned.
Obviously..Chris know his stuff on Gators..Ive used the same Rigs on them...But we use a 5 gallon bucket 20 ft from the hook..It keeps them from going in the heavy grasses & having to in after them..On Sabine Lake..La side..They use an Equilizer poppin cork to bring them up & it you wanna fight ..try them on a rod..Tarpon aint got nuttin on them
You tie a bucket on the line? Closed top so it acts like a float?
That would have to be one heck of a rig to bring one in with a rod and reel!!!!
I can see it now, fighting chair in the back of a pickup, Penn International 130 class reel on a 5130 rod, ESPN filming crew, "Battle in the Bayou-Extreme Sports Fishing"
I would definetly recommend using a ball peen hammer to "finish them off". I have hunted them in Louisiana, for years. We would usually pull them up to the boat then shoot them with a large caliber handgun, then pop them on the top of the head with the hammer to make sure they were dead.
Chris had very good info. The only thing I do differently is to use a 4' piece of 250# nylon joined to the 500# nylon instead of the steel leader. The hook is going to lodge in their stomach anyway, so if they chew on anything it will be the 500#. Very rank chicken is a very good bait, the smellier the better. If you are skinning for mounting, skin down the stomach, if for selling the leather, skin down the back. TPW&D does have directions on how to skin. If you would prefer to have a professional do it, call a local outfitter in the area you plan to hunt. You can bet they know someone who can do it for you. If you have a long trip home, take plenty of non-iodized salt. Salt the inside of the hide then roll it up, flesh side in. I usually eat the whole animal. The tail meat is best, but all the other meat is tasty as well. Do check the eyes and make sure the gator is good and dead. They have been known to destroy pickups when put in and still half alive. Seriously consider taking a small flatbottom with motor, that you can portage. Most of the time this is the only way to access the really good spots. As Chris said, look for sign (drags,scrapes, etc) and set up on it. Good luck!