Successful Gator Hunting
One of the first questions many people ask me in regards to alligator hunting is where on earth do you shoot a big gator? It’s not in the heart or lungs like many other animals and the reason is simple. Most alligators that you shoot with a rifle are laid up on shore sunning themselves, and you want the shot to put them down immediately. Although a heart or lung shot would be fatal, they would still make it into the water and the chances of recovering them become much lower. If you take a brain shot however, they usually don’t go anywhere, which makes for an easy recovery.
To accomplish a brain shot, it truly takes precision shooting. There is a small zone right behind their eye where your shot needs to be placed. Regardless of how big an alligator is, the area you need to hit is extremely small. On a 12-foot gator for example, we are talking a 2-inch by 2-inch square; so there is very little room for error.
The other thing to keep in mind is many of the shots are long range, as the big alligators like to lie up on shores that are extremely remote. So for long shots with precision shooting, I’ve come up with a few tips to make those shots count.
First, my choice on ammunition is a .300 Win. Mag. Ballistic Silvertip in a 180-grain bullet. The reason I like this ammo/caliber combination is because this is what I use throughout most of my fall hunting season. I know the ballistics and wind drift extremely well, and upon impact it leaves a devastating wound channel that stops most gators right in their tracks.
Next, I always keep a set of bipods on my gun and a spare set of shooting sticks handy. I like to get as steady as possible, and prone is the best way for me to shoot rock solid. I keep a longer set of bipods on my gun that extend from 13 ½-inches all the way to 27- inches so I can shoot everywhere from prone to sitting with the front of my gun resting solid on the foundation I am shooting from. If I’m shooting prone I usually put a backpack or coat under the stock of the gun for added stability. If I’m going to shoot sitting up, I usually extend the bipods and use my tripod shooting sticks to support the stock so it feels just like a bench setup in the field. It’s quick, easy, and makes for extremely stable shots.
Finally, I try to always have my cell phone nearby so I can access the Winchester Ballistics Calculator to double check any windage or drop compensation right on the spot for the exact conditions I’m shooting in. I have most of my conditions such as my ammo, sight in range, and sight height already set, but now I can change the temperature and cross wind right in the field and get an extremely detailed shot breakdown. This can really help take the guesswork out of long shots and help you decide if the shot is worth taking or if you’re better off passing.
In the end, these are a few tips I use to improve my gator hunting success. However, these tips can be used in any shooting situation.
Melissa Bachman is an incredibly hardcore and intense hunter – perhaps one of the more passionate hunters you will ever meet.