Wildlife & Hunting

Public Waters Alligator Hunting Info

Guys with an alligator

Alligator season opens on the last Friday in August each year. Permits for alligator hunting are by Special Permit only.

Public Water Season: 12:00 Noon August 30 until 12:00 Noon September 9, 2024




Northwest                          40                          Southwest          190

Northeast                          130                         South Central     150

West Central                      190                         Southeast          160

Pearl/Ross Barnett              100




2023 Harvest Report Summary: Click Here 


Regulations and Hunting Zone Information:


Alligator Season Harvest History 

View the 2023 and other annual Alligator Hunting Season Harvest Summaries HERE


Download the 2024 Alligator Hunting Guide




The MS Alligator Hunting Training Course is now available online through a series of 11 video segments.  They may be viewed at anytime at your leisure. The training course provides information on alligator history, biology, MDWFP Alligator Program, all alligator hunting regulations, capture methods, capture gear, harvest methods, processing meat and hides, harvest reporting and documentation, how/where to purchase licenses and possession permits, and much more.

Please click on the link below for the NEW Online Alligator Hunting Training Course on YouTube. 

There are 11 video segments including a FAQ segment that is very helpful.

Alligator Hunting Training Course


Where can you hunt on a public waters permit?

Each permit is limited to a specific hunting zone.

There are seven geographical public water alligator hunting zones.

  1. NORTHEAST (excluding all portions of the Pearl River/Ross Barnett Zone) 
  7. PEARL RIVER/ROSS BARNETT (see Regulations for complete description) 
  • ONLY "public waterways" within each zone, as defined by MDEQ, will be open to hunting. No other public water will be open to alligator hunting, except the lakes within the Northeast, Northwest, West Central, and Southwest Zone, listed specifically below.   To view which "public waterways" in each zone are open to hunting, view the maps below.
  • Including:
    • Crystal Lake (Rankin Co.) in the Northeast Zone
    • Okatibbee Lake (Lauderdale Co.) in the Northeast Zone
    • Lake Ferguson (Washington County) in the Northwest Zone
    • Beulah Lake (Bolivar County) in the Northwest Zone
    • Lake Bolivar (Bolivar County) in the Northwest Zone
    • Lake Whittington (Bolivar County) in the Northwest Zone
    • Eagle Lake (Warren County) in the West Central Zone
    • Chotard Lake (Warren and Issaquena Counties) in the West Central Zone
    • Albemarle Lake (Issaquena County) in the West Central Zone
    • Tennessee Lake (Issaquena County) in the West Central Zone
    • Lake Washington (Washington County) in the West Central Zone
    • Bee Lake (Holmes County) in the West Central Zone
    • Little Eagle Lake (Humphreys County) in the West Central Zone
    • Dump Lake (Yazoo County) in the West Central Zone
    • Lake George (Yazoo County) in the West Central Zone
    • Tchula Lake (Holmes Co.) in the West Central Zone * NEW 2018
    • Lake Mary (Wilkinson County) in the Southwest Zone



For those permitted in the following MS Public Water Zones:

  1. Northeast
  2. Northwest
  3. West Central
  4. Southwest
  5. South Central
  6. Southeast


  1. Legal public water for public water alligator hunters include any public waterway, as designated by MDEQ, and all associated portions of each drainage that are not privately owned and have navigable access from the designated waterway.
  2. For those who hunt on or near state borderline waters, such as the Mississippi River, lower Pearl River (in Pearl River and Hancock Counties), Eagle Lake, Chotard Lake, Albermarle Lake, Tennessee Lake, Lake Ferguson, Lake Whittington, and Lake Beulah,
  3. BE ADVISED, to cross the state border while pursuing alligators into any water that is not part of Mississippi will be considered illegal alligator hunting by the adjoining state (i.e. AR & LA). It shall be the hunter's responsibility to be aware of state borders. 

NOTICE Public waterways VS. Public Water - Do not confuse the two terms, in regard to the Public Waters Alligator Season. ONLY the public waters of the state designated as "Public Waterways" by the MS Dept. of Environmental Quality are open to alligator hunting.  The only exceptions are the lakes listed above.  Hunters must become familiar with the rivers designated on the MDEQ website (see link above).  Not all "public waters" are considered as "public waterways." 

NOTE:  State Boundary Line Waters: There are NO reciprocal license agreements with adjacent states (AR & LA) for alligator hunting. Therefore, anyone licensed to legally hunt alligators in MS may only hunt in MS waters.  It is the hunter's responsibility to know his/her location in regards to state boundaries.  Reciprocal license agreements allow hunters/fishermen to legally hunt/fish in adjacent state line waters with either state's license when both states have concurrent seasons or creel limits. THIS IS NOT APPLICABLE TO ALLIGATOR HUNTING.



West Central Zone Hunters:  Be aware that alligator hunting access is allowed to permitted hunters at the Panther Swamp NWR boat ramp located at Lake George on Callihan Road and at the Parker Bayou Boat Ramp located off of Old Hwy 49 adjacent to Hillside NWR.  Federal agents will enforce a no alligator hunting restriction north of the Callihan Road bridge and east of Hwy 49 .  Be certain that all ammunition is stored separately.

Northeast Zone Hunters:  Be aware to consult U.S. Army Corps of Engineer (USACOE) regulations regarding hunting activities and boat ramp use before hunting USACOE regulated waterways. Special permits from the USACOE may be required. Some USACOE refuge areas are closed to all hunting.  For complete information, go to their website at US Army Corps of Engineers, then click on "Wildlife", then click on "Hunting Permit Program".  You may also call (662) 327-2142.  Additionally, the Pearl River/Ross Barnett Zone IS NOT open for Northeast Zone Permit holders. No portion of Ross Barnett Reservoir or Pelahatchie Bay is open for Northeast Zone Permit holders.

Pearl River/Ross Barnett Zone Hunters: The only area open for hunting is as follows: The public waters of the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District only within the area north of a line from Fannin Landing to Channel Marker "A" to the Natchez Trace Overlook on the main lake of Ross Barnett Reservoir, and south of Lowhead Dam on the Pearl River (excluding all areas of the main lake that are west of the Natchez Trace, i.e. North Bay and Twin Harbors).  The area south of a line from Fannin Landing to Channel Marker "A" to the Natchez Trace Overlook on the main lake of Ross Barnett Reservoir and Pelahatchie Bay is closed to alligator hunting.

ALL ZONES: Only lakes that are described specifically within each Zone are open to alligator hunting. 

NO other lakes are open. 


Obtaining CITES Tags after the harvest

A federal CITES tag is required to be attached to the hide near the end of the tail if being sold to a licensed alligator parts dealer/processor or before transportation across state lines. A CITES tag(s) will be mailed to you upon receipt of your harvest report.  CITES tags may also be obtained from Regional Offices in person, Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm.

  • The wildlife agencies of Arkansas and Louisiana have specifically approved that properly licensed hunters with legally harvested alligators with properly attached
    temporary possession tags are legal to transport through their respective
  • A federal CITES Tag must be attached to the head/hide/carcass if left in possession of a person, processor, or buyer in any other state than Mississippi. 
  • Never sell a hide or carcass to anyone who does not require a CITES tag. 



Mississippi Processors Information

Alligators legally harvested and properly tagged by permitted alligator hunters may only be sold to:

  • A licensed MS Agent Alligator Trapper
  • A person who possesses a Mississippi Fur Dealer's License.
  • A person who is licensed to purchase alligators in another state (in the state of licensure).

The following contacts are the only MDWFP approved cooperating buyers and processors.  They have CITES Tags on hand for your convenience (customers only).  They will not receive any alligator or hide that is not properly tagged with a Mississippi Temporary Possession Tag.



Woodrow (Woody) Cain, BULK MEAT PROCESSING and SKINNING ONLY, 2133 Old Hwy 61 N., Port Gibson, MS  39150, PH (601) 618-8261.

  • Hours: Open 24 hours during the open season. Call ahead to make arrangements before drop-off.
  • CITES Tags on site.
  • Call for pricing.

Red Antler Processing, MEAT PROCESSING, SKINNING, SKIN TANNING QUOTES, SKIN FLESH AND SALT, SKULL MOUNTS, CARCASS BUYING, Christopher Smith, 14688 HWY 49, Yazoo City, MS 39194 PH. (662) 716-7363, (662) 998-2879

  • 24 Hours
  • Call for pricing. 
  • Head and hide will be returned to customer with processing.
  • CITES Tags on site.
  • Scales on site.
  • Snatch hooks, harpoons, harpoon points, snares, and buoys, in stock and available in store.

 Running M Meat Company, SKINNING and PROCESSING ONLY, 12 Gracie Hinton Rd. Richton, MS 39476, PH (601) 422-5390

  • 24 Hours
  • Call for Pricing
  • Head and Hide Returned to Customer
  • Scales on Site
  • CITES tags on site

Alligator Skinning and Tanning Instructions

Record Alligator Certification Procedures

Hunters who wish to certify an alligator as a potential state record of harvest should contact the MDWFP at (601) 432-2217 or (after business hours) (601) 432-2170.  Hunters should be prepared to provide the following information at the time of your call:

  1. Total length (feet-inches)
  2. Belly girth (inches)
  3. Tail girth (inches)
  4. Weight (lbs) (only needed if a potential weight record, plus length and girth measurements)

The Alligator Program Coordinator will return the call ASAP, usually within 24 hours.  If deemed a potential record by the program coordinator, arrangements will be made to meet with MDWFP personnel to obtain an official weight or length measurement.

Regarding Weight Records: Since weights are so difficult to estimate and vary greatly, hunters must pre-weigh their alligator before contacting the MDWFP. If certified scales are not available, then efforts should be made by the hunter to obtain a weight from a reputable source of scales. Weight certification must be on certified scales or other MDWFP approved scales and witnessed by an MDWFP officer or biologist.

Measuring tips:

  1. Lay the alligator on a flat surface with the carcass laying completely flat and straight. Using a cloth measuring tape, measure along the dorsal side (top) of the alligator from the tip of the snout to the tip of the tail following the dorsal contour of the alligator.
  2. Measure to the nearest 1/8 inch. 
  3. For weight, be sure the alligator is completely suspended from the ground. 
  4. For weight, be sure to "zero tare" the scales when chains or straps are used to hoist the alligator before hoisting the alligator for measuring the weight. Chains and straps should not be included in the weight measurement.




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