We present here our first class of Louisianians of the Year. In doing so we defined some key categories: Conservationist, Visual Artist, Civic Activist, Educator, Celebrity, Chef, Musician and Entrepreneur. There are other important, higher profile categories that we could have looked at – politics and sports being among them – but these chosen eight represent to us an impressive cross-section of local creativity. Thanks to all of them for their good works; thanks to all of you for providing an active state in which those works can be appreciated.
Fame won’t change the king of the swamp! Troy Landry – Alligator-hunter from Pierre Part (Assumption Parish), Louisiana.
How many Cajuns does it take to wrestle an angry 12-foot alligator into a pirogue? If their name is Landry, just a couple will do.
In the scary and mysterious wilderness of America’s largest swamp, only denizens with deep roots are truly at ease, and Troy Landry and his sons are the real deal. Landry has spent his life plying the waters of the Atchafalaya Swamp and earning a living by capturing what he finds there.
“I’ve been trapping and hunting since I was little bitty,” he says.
The Pierre Part native, nicknamed by friends the “king of the swamp,” likely would have continued his trade without creating a blip
on anyone’s radar had it not been for cable television’s History Channel.
A few years ago the producers at Arts & Entertainment Network got the wild hair to create a reality show focused on alligator-hunters. It didn’t take them long to find Landry, and it took very little time for Landry to become a star.
With its third season now in production,Swamp People has become the most-watched show on the History Channel. The second season delivered record numbers for the channel, and the season finale snagged 5.5 million viewers.
The show follows Landry, his son Jacob and a handful of other hunters as they go about their dangerous work night after night during the short annual gator-hunting season. Wielding hooks, ropes and plenty of guts, they work the moonlit waters to find and capture gators by the dozen. Of course, the only sure way to kill the critters is with a rifle shot between the eyes.
“Choot ‘em!” Landry frequently shouts at the appropriate moment in his quirky Cajun brogue.
Even his phrase has become a star, spawning its own Web site where Landry’s fans can buy Choot ‘Em caps, T-shirts and ringtones.
Landry can hardly believe the fame the show has brought him. “Everywhere we go, the people come out with their little kids, and they’re so excited,” he says.
“We’ve had people almost pass out, like we’re some real movie stars.”
Landry is grateful for the rewards the show has brought his family: “It’s opened a lot of doors for my boys and me.” But he says his stardom won’t change the way he lives – or where.
“The little street I live on – my mama and daddy live right down the street, and all three of my brothers and my three sons are close by, and my wife, Bernita, works over at the school.”
Landry enjoys the traveling he’s done since the show became a hit. “I like to visit other places, but I’ll always come back,” he says. “The bayou is who I am.”