PHOTOS Swamp People – Where is the quarter-sized kill spot on an alligator?

Elmer Fudd goes alligator hunting with Swamp People

When Troy Landry, Willie Edwards, and the other stars of Swamp People catch an alligator on a hook baited with rotten chicken, pull the line in, and wrestle the beast to the side of their boats, their work is far from done. In fact, it is just getting started. You can’t just pull a live alligator out of the water and throw them into your boat (unless you’re Terral Evans). You have to kill the gator first.

Killing an alligator, even one that’s hooked on the other end of a line, isn’t an easy task. An alligator’s skin is like armor–bullet-proof armor. Shooting an alligator in the tail or the back or the head won’t do anything. He might twitch a bit or try to dive down to safety, but it won’t really phase him. It certainly won’t stop his jaws from chomping down on you or his tail from knocking you around.

Here’s a nice clip illustrating how to make a gator really angry, as well as your hunting partner:

Shooting an alligator on the soft part of his belly or leg or even inside the mouth won’t do you any good either because alligators have something like an auto-pilot setting built into their nervous system and so they just keep coming. In the long-run, of course, an alligator may die from a shot to one of those soft spots. But, in the short run, it just makes them mad. If they were annoyed before you shot them, then they’ll only be more annoyed afterwards. That’s not good.

If you’re objective is to get the alligator out of the water and into your boat, you want to slow the beast down, not motivate it to fight harder. And, if you’re alligator hunting because you want to make a buck selling the hides, putting a bunch of holes in an alligator’s skin is . . . um . . . a little counter productive, shall we say.

So . . . what do you do? Well, you shoot the gator in the famous “quarter-sized kill spot” on the back of its head. This is the only good spot to kill a gator for one reason: it is the only place on an alligator’s body where you can shoot straight into an alligator’s tiny brain.

Here is an amazing virtual 3D video put together by the The 3D Alligator Project at Ohio University and the University of Missouri showing the anatomical structure of the head and skull of the American alligator. It was rendered from CT scans using Amira and QuickTime by Ryan Ridgely, and labeled by Jason Bourke.

Here are a couple photos showing the location of an alligator’s brain with still images taken from the video:

Where is an alligator's brain located top view photo Where is an alligator's brain photo - side view

But, an alligator comes equipped with a very thick skull that protects his thinking muscle from above and from the side, and as a result, you have to come at it from a little bit further back. Sooooo… here’s the adjusted position of the mythical quarter-sized kill spot illustrated on an alligator skull:

quarter-sized kill spot on an alligator

Hit that tiny bullseye, and the gator dies immediately. Shoot him anywhere else, and you’re just asking for trouble, and lots of it. As a bonus, the hide on an alligator’s head doesn’t mean anything to buyers and manufacturers, so hitting the “kill spot” also means avoiding all the money-making bits.

That’s not quite all there is to it, though. Even if you know right where the “kill spot” is, not every shot on it will be equally effective. Since the bullet is entering behind the brain, you have to shoot at an angle from behind and above the gator with the gun pointed roughly in the same direction that the gator’s nose is pointing. Shoot straight down or from the front, and even if you hit the kill spot or the brain location, you still might not get through.

Here’s an illustration of the angle needed for a “clean kill” on the first shot:

Where to shoot an alligator - the quarter sized kill spot side view photo

Through stunning videography and super slow motion sequences depicting the final seconds of an alligator’s life, Swamp People does an amazing job of portraying the courage and skill required to catch and bag these monstrous carnivores. But, even that beautifully produced, high-definition footage can’t really depict how tiny the margin for error is when you point a gun at an alligator.

When Tommy hunted gators on his own in season two of the show and decided to shoot at them in open water, we got a sense of what an incredible sharp-shooter he really is. But, in the season finale, when he kills 10 alligators with 10 bullets, we were witness to something really special. It just might not have looked that way, since he made it look so easy.

And just in case you are reading this post because you have a gator knocking on your front door and you really, really, really need to know exactly where to shoot him with your one bullet, and looking at computer generated images of alligator skulls hasn’t instilled the confidence you were looking for, here’s the kill spot on a real deal alligator.

Illustration of where the quarter sized kill spot is located on an alligator's head

*** PLEASE NOTE – Shooting an alligator yourself is highly dangerous and more than likely illegal and not something this site – or any of the Swamp People – would recommend.

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  • http://yahoo DAVE BRINKERHOFF


    • Bill De

      These “Swamp People” that kill alligators for fun are not “People,” well I guess they are, humans are the only species that hunt other animals for “sport.” Makes me wonder what “God” is like, he’s certainly more evolved than we are.

      • lanca

        The gators are killed to be eaten after which the skin is also used so nothing goes to waste this also keeps the gators from overpopulating.

        These people are making a living by doing a job that needs to be done its a hard job and not done for fun as you say.

        • craigc

          i’m a peta member. people eating tasty animals. but i do love animals. i don’t argue with my place in evolution- i was born to eat animals.

          • survivalof species

            animals eat each other, they have built in claws, teeth, and whatever get’s them filled in they’re bellies, they will eat you also, how do you think they are surviving?, They hunt, kill and eat. Even plants strangle out they’re enimies, ever see a watermelon, wrap it’s tenticles around another plant to kill it, so it does not consume it’s food/nutrition? Cactus has spikes so “other’s” cannot bite into them and suck out they’re water they rely on?,Iit’s GOD’S way of a universal preservation. and we are plants and animals also. One must come to terms with this, GOD gave us our abilities and gave the plants and animals they’re abilities to survive. It may seem off base to some, animals do not have a moral set back when starving for something to eat. They will help eachother at times, maternally, but when push comes to shove, they will eat you. Ask some poison ivy why it wants to survive. There is a reason for it all. Oh, gator taste’s good, and is apprieciated, just like you would be in they’re mouths.

    • Bill De

      These “Swamp People” that kill alligators for fun are not “People,” well I guess they are, humans are the only species that hunt other animals for “sport.” Makes me wonder what “God” is like, he’s certainly more evolved than we are.

  • Varna Bini Banhara

    I love Swamp People, they’re made some real sucess here on Brazil. How ninja you have to be to hit rigth on this little spot and on the right angle?!

  • M

    Morning All. This has nothing too do with you all. For Tommy & his friend Jeovah God will punishes you who kill his pets of all kind.

    • N

      Sod off, Jay Dub

  • M

    If any body loves M. A. S. H . Clap but any one who watches this crapy show will all die at Armageddon.

  • M

    Armageddon is right around the corner so if you please save Gods Creachers of all kind.

  • M

    Gods warring for you all too save his Creachers big & small.

  • Elder Bad Ass

    Genesi 9:3 “every moving thing that lives will be food for you” time to pick up the big book again son…

    • coastiemom

      Thank you, Elder! Not only do these guys sell the gaters as an edible commodity, they are licensed to kill them in order to keep the alligator (carnivores I might remind folks) population from making their families dinner!!!

  • dumb bible thumper

    well “M” theres nothing in the bible about sodomizing lil boys, but…. that doesnt stop priests…

  • mike

    m, God gave man diminion over all the animals in the animal kingdom, make sure you know what you are talking about, just as cows are killed and eaten, why should gators be different, and if you lived in the bayou, you would definetely appreciate the service, b/c if it got over populated you would be in trouble, and bill, its how they earn a living and to control over population, are people really that ignorant to things that go on in the world, if so why speak

  • Suki

    they should have an Apprentice: Alligator hunter show. I love this show!!!!

  • Neil

    The people that are on this show are not movie stars. They are every day people trying to eek out a living with the environment they have. In the past 30 years the gator population has flourished exponentially. If they don’t keep it under control the species will wipe itself out.
    The hides are used for different puposes, boots, belts etc. The meat is sold for food throughout the US. It can average up to $20 a pound at the current time.
    The gators do not suffer, they are humanely dispatched, and they provide a source of income and protein.
    The Bible does not say anything about God forbidding man to eat any of the animal kingdom. It was the blood that God laid the prohibition on for eating. When Peter brought the Gentiles into the New Covenant with Isreal, they were given two commands. Steer clear of fornication, or “porneia”, and don’t take in blood. Other than that all he wants is obedience. He also doesn’t threaten anyone for their knowledge or lack of knowledge. Who lives and dies at the Great War will be His decision, and His decision alone. The Bible says “I do not desire to see anyone die, but that a man will turn from his way and find salvation”. It is not any human’s role to dole out death or life.

    • John Wesley

      Ed Makan you are a genocidal scumbag. Go kill yourself if you think humans are a pox and should be culled you scumbag. Are you A. Hitler reincarnated or something?

      Good thing we have guns to defend ourselves from genocidal scum such as yourself.

  • Ed Makan

    Well someone either has to cull these beautiful creatures due to there so called overpopulating the area.
    So why aren’t humans being culled as they are a biggest pox on the planet than the animals.
    As for “God”, if this entity is such a loving, caring, wonderful whatever it is, then why are half the species on the planet attemtping to eat the other half?
    Explain that to me all you Bible thumpers?

    I believe that human overpopulation is the fundamental problem on Earth Today” and, “We humans have become a disease, the Humanpox.”
    Dave Foreman, Sierra Club and co founder of Earth First!

    “If I were reincarnated I would wish to be returned to earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels.”
    Prince Phillip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Duke of Edinburgh, leader of the World Wildlife Fund

    • Mriordon

      I think Dave Foreman should set a good example and kill himself immediately.

      • Mriordon

        Oh, and by the way Ed, you should join him.

  • Ed Makan

    “The present vast overpopulation, now far beyond the world carrying capacity, cannot be answered by future reductions in the birth rate due to contraception, sterilization and abortion, but must be met in the present by the reduction of numbers presently existing. This must be done by whatever means necessary.”
    Initiative for the United Nations ECO-92 EARTH CHARTER

    “In order to stabilize world population, we must eliminate 350,000 people per day. It is a horrible thing to say, but it is just as bad not to say it.”
    J. Cousteau, 1991 explorer and UNESCO courier

    • Alan Williams

      Utter nonsense. The world is abundant and can more than provide for the current population if we use the technology we have at our disposal.

  • John Wesley

    If your in Florida and a nussance trapper wont come kill a big gator near you then wait awhile and Shoot, Shovel, and Shutup. They should come kill any nussance gator over 4 feet but if they are to scared because its to big then you and your family are screwed unless you can get a tag. Idiot hippy liberals and their commie laws.


    I only want to kill 3 things
    2. Copperheads
    3. People that piss me off
    But if I lived where these folks do.. gators would be #4