In keeping with the constant competition between major television channels of who can come up with the next big reality show based on the unconventional lives of relatively unusual Americans, the History Channel has brought us Swamp People.
It sounds a lot like a cheesy sci-fi/horror movie, but it’s actually a show that, according to the folks at the History Channel, is about “proud descendants of French Canadian refugees who settled in the swamp region of Louisiana in the 18th century. Cameras follow members of this fiercely independent group as they struggle to preserve their way of life in the Atchafalaya Basin during the most important time of the year for them: alligator-hunting season.”
But these Louisiana hunters sure get up to a lot more shenanigans and tragic drama than the gator-shooting that the cameras catch! The History Channel likes to keep non-gator crimes under wraps as much as they possibly can, though. Fortunately for your reading pleasure, we don’t mind exposing the dirty and sad secrets of these gumbo-lovin’ guys (and gals, to be fair) one bit. After all, they wouldn’t be fly-by-night History Channel reality stars if they didn’t have some dark secrets lurking in their own personal murky waters, right?
15. Nearly An Entire Cast Canned In One Season
Fans of the show were shocked when they found out that the History Channel had made the bizarre decision in 2015 to cut nearly the entire cast. When the seventh season rolled out, it was official that Elizabeth “Gator Queen Liz” (Cavalier) Choate, Jessica Cavalier, Junior Edwards, Willie Edwards, Joe LaFont, Tommy Chauvin, Jeromy Pruitt and David LaDart were not asked back. Junior Edwards, for one, seemed to take the high road on the change. “I see a bunch of posts saying that a certain family was saying that we asked for more money and that’s why we are not on the show anymore,” the former cast member wrote on a social media post shortly after it was clear that an ax was being dropped on several cast members. “To clear up gossip and BS. We never asked for anything.
Junior Edwards, for one, seemed to take the high road on the change. “I see a bunch of posts saying that a certain family was saying that we asked for more money and that’s why we are not on the show anymore,” the former cast member wrote on a social media post shortly after it was clear that an ax was being dropped on several cast members. “To clear up gossip and BS. We never asked for anything. Only communication we had with the production company was when we were told that we would not be on the show anymore. We have made our living off the bayou all our lives. We don’t need a camera stuck in our faces to do that like some people.”
14. Payne’s Painful Punch-out With Police
Reasonable people understand that taking a swing at a cop isn’t a great idea. Either Swamp People star Nicholas Payne (who acted as an assistant to gator-killer, Bruce Mitchell) isn’t a reasonable person, or he was suffering from a massive lapse of judgment at the time. Most everyone knows that taking a swing at a female police officer is an especially not well thought out plan, but that is exactly what Nicholas did when the police were called to his home for a reported disturbance. When the female officer, Sgt. Tammany Parish, arrived, he didn’t just take a swing at her but attacked her with his hands, closed fists, and feet. In exchange for his very stupid actions, he was promptly arrested on multiple charges. The History channel showed no loyalty to their former star, issuing a statement saying, “Nicholas has not been part of the show since filming concluded last season … and we have no additional comment.” Ouch.
13. Outrage Over Controversy Aimed At The Show
Besides some Louisiana natives being angry and outspoken online regarding what they consider to be inaccurate and bad representations depicted by the cast members of the show, another upset voice being tossed over to the waters of Swamp People was a star of another show dealing with wilderness. In 2012, Lost star Dominic Monaghan tweeted out, “If my hero #steveirwin was around those shows about killing alligators wouldn’t be on tv. I’m gonna stop them. Watch this space. If alligator populations need to be controlled I understand but the act should not be glorified on tv.disgusting.These are living creatures.” Many people agreed with the animal-loving actor’s stance, and his threat to stop them probably had The History Channel shaking in their boots a bit considering the massive and dedicated following for the beloved show, Lost. Not to mention the fact that Monaghan blamed the network directly. “As I said I blame the network not the people.i [sic] consider it tortuous to stalk net n shoot an intelligent animal,” the actor continued in his tweet. As you can probably guess, The History Channel declined to comment.
12. Z.Z.’s Other Attempt At Fame
Alligator wrestler/wrangler Zamariah “Z.Z.” Loupe’s time on Swamp People didn’t make as big of a splash as other gator-killing cast members. But it looks like that was okay with Z.Z., who has tried another reality show to get his shot at a full 15 minutes of fame. In 2015, Z.Z. managed to survive the first round of eliminations in WWE’s reality show Tough Enough. At the time, Z.Z. was just 18 years old and, apparently, he impressed the socks off of execs at WWE with his home audition tape which showed him hopping into an alligator pit and lifting a huge gator above his head. “If I can toss him around this pit, then I can toss anybody you put in the ring with me,” Z.Z. said. WWE even put Z.Z. in a developmental contract, but released him (unlike the gators on the show) from his contract in 2016. Better luck on the next show, Z.Z.
11. Off Camera, Troy Lives Like A King
Troy Landry’s home life doesn’t exactly jive with the image that The History Channel prefers we conjure up when we picture the Louisiana native who rose to fame by shooting alligators in a swamp — and by not speaking proper English, which is perfect for insta-catchphrases. He calls the place where he hangs his swamp gear his “dream house”, and lives with his school teacher wife, Bernita, and their large family. He saved bits and pieces of cypress — that he took from the bayou for three years —and built the house with nearly 100 percent cypress. The house seems extremely upscale when you think in terms of where someone called a “swamp person” calls home. Troy and his family prove that some swamp people can be swanky and swampy at the same time. But would The History Channel approve of the star’s home when the show depicts a much different side of him?
10. Willie Gets A Gator Bite
In 2013, Willie made what could have been a fatal error while in a small boat with a gator. The angry-with-good-reason gator took a bite that cut most of Willie’s fingers when his hand carelessly slipped near the animal’s mouth. “He almost took my fingers off,” Willie said. The reason he was so careless was because he assumed the animal was already dead. Hoping to leave a lasting message of vengeance for his upcoming murder, the gator bit into Willie’s flesh, causing a bite so powerful it broke his toe as well. Alligator and crocodile bites are usually fatal. If the person survives, there is a great risk of infection with bacteria from the flora in the swamp that gets into the animals’ mouths. Clearly, this gator knew what was going on and had a plan with a final message for gator-killer Willie.
9. Kristi Broussard’s Close Call
Kristi Broussard almost met her maker in the swamp one day when she fell overboard. After hunting down a particularly large alligator, Kristi and Liz’s line got tangled with the cane pole which was hopelessly stuck in about three feet of super thick mud. When attempting to pull the pole out, Kristi fell in… right next to the gator. She managed to escape unscathed, but she was incredibly shaken up. This happened right after she had returned from a long break from the show. People said that she was out of practice from her hiatus, and the History Channel seemed all too pleased to push this episode as a dramatic “death-defying capture”. It seems as though the History Channel enjoys these brushes with death, but what would happen if a gator-hunter actually got gobbled up? Still great for ratings?
8. Liz’s Sassy Social Media Open Reply To The History Channel
In 2015, it was announced that the Swamp People cast was going to get cut and Liz found herself on the chopping block along with her daughter, Jessica. In response to the change in cast, Liz didn’t hold back her feelings on social media. “Due to unknown reasons by the production company ‘Original Media’ my family and myself, along with other original cast members, besides Jeromy and David, will no longer be participating in the Swamp People series, starting with season 7. It saddens me to know that our fans are the ones who will suffer from these unexplained actions by the new management of this production company. REALITY. We will continue with our regular lives and hope to stay connected with all of you in the future. To all of my fans, with love, GatorqueenLiz.” Naturally, she also had a response ready when the network asked her to remove her posts in regards to the casting changes.
7. Trigger Tommy And Trapper Joe’s Car Crash
Trapper Joe LaFont and his nephew, Trigger Tommy Chauvin, were involved in a very serious five-car pile-up near the Arkansas-Louisiana state line in 2012, where three people suffered major injuries, neither being Trapper Joe or Trigger Tommy. What was of some concern to the pair was their literal truckload of Swamp People merchandise, including t-shirts and sweatshirts with the show’s logo that were tossed all over the road during the accident. Trapper Joe and Trigger Tommy had to spend a considerable amount of time picking up the merchandise among the wreckage and with tow truck workers around. It’s unclear why the relatives and gator-hunting pair had a huge amount of sellable gear on them, but we don’t think that this is a very good look for The History Channel and we’re pretty sure that they would agree.
6. R.J. And Jay Paul Molinere’s Gas Station Assault
Alleged assault, we should mention, although the facts in this case do seem to be stacked against this father and son gator-huntin’ team who gave a whole new meaning to the term “ragin’ Cajuns.” Like father like son; these two hotheads took their rage to the road in 2016 when the duo got into a road-rage situation with a fellow driver, which escalated into a verbal yelling match. Eventually, both drivers wound up at the same gas station/convenience store and a physical altercation ensued.
“He [the alleged victim] said that he was beat-up by the two and struck in the head with a beer bottle by Molinere Jr.,” reads the sheriff’s news release on the matter. “The victim said that he suffered with a black eye, swollen jaw and had a knot to his forehead.” Although the Molinere pair were arrested for the assault, they deny that it happened the way the alleged victim claimed it did and that he recognized them from the show and was using this incident to extort financial resources from them.
5. Cast Member Jacob LaDart Passes In Car Wreck
Jeromy Pruitt’s gator-hunting partner and stepfather, David LaDart, lost his son, Jacob LaDart, who was also featured on Swamp People, to a car accident in 2015. It was a Sunday morning when Jacob, driving his beloved 2001 Chevy pick-up, veered off the road in Union Parish. According to police reports, the younger LaDart tried to correct his driving error but ended up over-correcting and his truck crossed both lanes to enter a wooded area where it was stopped after striking several trees. The 19-year-old was ejected from his truck and died at the scene of the accident. Jeromy Pruitt took to Pruitt and LaDart’s shared Facebook account to post about the loss. “I wanted to let everyone know David lost his son Jacob this morning in a car wreck,” Pruitt posted to Facebook. “Please keep David and our family in y’all’s prayers.”
4. Troy Landry Loves Lawsuits
Apparently, Troy Landry just loves ’em considering the Swamp People star filed three lawsuits against the companies, Halpern Import Co., National Cap and Sportswear, and Ripple Junction Design Co. in 2012 over the unauthorized use of his incredibly witty catchphrases, “Choot Em”, “Tree Shaka”, “Tree Breaka”, and “Mudda Fricka”. It seems there were more than just a few folks out there who were all too happy to buy up any and all merchandise that had these inspiring phrases on them. But gator-hunter Landry wanted to make sure that he got paid for the sales of any such merch since he “created” these little linguistic marvels. Most surprising of all: he was not embarrassed in the slightest in claiming rights to these barely intelligible phrases. Landry also owns the rights to “Got Gator?” and “Choot Dat”.
3. The Loss Of Mitchell Guist
In 2012, Mitchell Guist, half of a duo of scraggly-bearded brothers who lived off the land in Louisiana, passed away at the incredibly young age of 47 when he had a seizure on his boat on the Louisiana Belle River. Guist is said to have died of a seizure, but at first it wasn’t determined if the gator-hunter had died from the actual seizure or from falling down due to the seizure. The exact cause of death was finally ruled as myocardial infarction. The History Channel issued the following statement: “Mitchell passed on the swamp, doing what he loved. We appreciate your respect for the Guist family’s privacy and hope you join us in sending our thoughts and prayers to his brother, Glenn, and the rest of the Guist family.” Indeed, the channel lost a lot in Guist as the pair of unkempt brothers were favorites of many viewers and brought a lot of notoriety to the show.
2. Chase Landry Fired Shots At A Speed Boat
It was shrimp-hunters versus gator-hunters one balmy night in 2016 in the swamps of Louisiana, though the shrimpers might not have been aware of that. It seems that Chase Landry felt that a shrimp boat was violating the speed limit of the swamp because he shot at the fellow boat while he was gator-hunting in the waters. Justice was served up hot and steamy that night when Landry was promptly arrested for the “illegal discharge of a weapon”. He fled the scene and was shortly found on land hightailing down the nearby highway. His story was that he asked the shrimp boat to slow down, but the driver refused and Landry feared that the boat would hit his. The shrimp boat was leaking gasoline from a gunshot hole thanks to Landry’s “DIY speed enforcement policy”.
1. Trapper Joe LaFont Booked For Battery Charges
Trapper Joe LaFont, whose real name is Noces Joseph LaFont, Jr., faced the serious charges of domestic battery in 2015 when his ex-girlfriend claimed that the Swamp People star broke two of her ribs. The then-50-year-old man was arrested, held on bond, and court-ordered to steer clear of the victim. If The History Channel hoped and prayed and this was an isolated incident that would be forgotten about and swept under the rug, they were in for a sad surprise when it was discovered that the gator-killer has a rap sheet with two domestic violence priors. According to the victim’s account of the events, she was texting on her phone when a fight broke out between the couple. LaFont grabbed her shoulder to see who she was texting and shoved her to the ground, causing the injuries.
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