Why the Gator is Such a Tough Critter

 From the Gator's Jaws

 by Captain Phil Walters-GatorGuides.com

Of the many factors that separate alligator hunting from other types of hunting, the armor that grows on the alligator may be the most interesting and often most misunderstood.

Gators are a leftover from the age of dinosaurs. They have a very thick and tough hide that is hard to puncture. Their most formidable defense to the methods of harvest legally employed by hunters is their armor. They have a head that is literally build like a concrete block and a back & neck that bristles with "Osteoderms", composed of bone like calcium, commonly referred to as scutes. On lager trophy class animals (9') the bone protecting the gators brain may be thicker than an inch and the armor on its back may grow to be almost as thick. Needless to say, to be a successful gator hunter, you must posses a reasonable understanding of the obstacles you and your equipment are to overcome.

At the top of the list, avoid any attempt to harpoon, shoot or bang the head, especially above the waterline. (Shooting a gator head above water will result in bone & lead going everywhere) With the head as thick as a concrete walkway, arrow shafts, spears, harpoons and the like most often will bounce off with no ill effect to the gator. Occasionally, the equipment will be damaged. Drivers can & will bend, poles can break and even some of the inferior made darts have been known to disintegrate. (I’ve witnessed with the fish archery darts composed of two different metals.)

This has happened with both head & back shots. On the rare positive side, a quality dart may hit a bone seam, nose or eye socket, nasal cavity or may bust a thick back scute and may engage in a limited hold. The reason I say "limited" is because the dart is wedged into bone and is held into place by friction rather than becoming engaged by design. In this situation, a hundred or two pounds of pressure may be exerted on the line for a limited time period. Eventually, as the bone or scute continues to fracture, the dart will lose friction & pull out as there is no hide or skin to hold it in place. On any initial head or back shot, ALWAYS attach more lines to support the first in case of failure. Remember on large gators, the more you spread the weight/force out among lines, the more control you’ll have and more lines reduces the chances of loss. 

For shot placement of harpoon or shaft, the flank is the #1 location as it’s a large target and is covered with skin, the covering which a good quality dart punctures with a minimal cut for maximum holding. The legs and tail are also area that can be successfully targeted as they also have fine holding ability and no armor. The downside to tail/leg shots is they are smaller targets and do not have the mass of the flank, making them slightly harder to penetrate. Also, while a tail/leg shot will give a secure hold, in order to work the gator you’ll need to dart him again in the neck or back so you’ll have control of the area where you can dispatch him. The key thought process is to FIRST bury a solid dart into the gator anywhere, even the tail so you have him, then work on total control via closer to the head.

These are armor scutes protecting the Gator's back. 
They can grow to be up to 1" thick!
You must account for this armor to be successful
and your equipment must be up to the task

 For darts, I make them specifically for gators. They are not modified fish points. They are made from a solid piece of #303 stainless steel, are small for easy penetration & maximum holding ability. I chisel cut the point via hand grinder which MININIZES the entry hole (A razor point is USELESS as all you’ll do is cut a huge hole so the dart will not hold. Any razor head is not a suitable design for gator hunting under any circumstances but does display a total lack of comprehension of legal gator hunting techniques).  These darts often will not bounce off the back scutes, but will either slide down the scute and bury between them, or may bust through one. Either way, you have a chisel point dart buried rather than bounced as a lesser designed competitor’s product may perform.

With thousands of hours spent guiding greenhorns to record book trophies that THEY HARPOON, I design  the RatWorks darts to work under poor conditions which may include head, back and scute shots, long distance shots, weak/soft shots (not enough ump!) and shots made while under mental duress, which is a common occurrences with the rookies. The equipment is made to overcome the difficulties of gator hunting and PERFORM as designed when needed by producing superior results is inferior situations. These designs are derived from decades of experience hunting with the public in the many states that offer public gator hunting. Few, if any equipment makers’ posses this level of commitment and field experience.

While there are many copy cat folks promoting gator hunting equipment with little practical or varied gator hunting experience, RatWorks has deeply invested in comprehending what you will experience under the conditions and terrain you’ll be hunting in. Our past results by customers and clients confirm this commitment.

Please purchase a quality product designed for this adverse adventure! Additionally, your purchase supports my many community services such as a being well published in promoting and defending fair chase hunting by the public, defending public access to our waterways, defending the honor & memory of our Southern Soldiers, advancing the public comprehension of sustainable hunting, educating & mentoring youths on hunting, shooting and alligator hunting and participating in getting our combat wounded heroes out on a gator hunt.

“Results are remembered long after the price is forgotten.”  Visit Ratworks professional gator hunting equipment - click here


Captain Phil Walters of GatorGuides.com, often called "The Gator Hunter of the South" has decades of experience guiding hundreds of clients in multiple states to trophy class alligators. His clients at one time possessed 7 of the top 10 SCI record book entries. He has hunted gators from one end of Florida to the other and added Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi to the areas he has hunted.