Saturday, August 24th, 2013
The History Channel’s Swamp People might film a couple of episodes in the Texas swampland this season, said Amos Cooper, alligator program leader with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.
“They’re supposed to be coming over here in September and going out with a couple of our hunters,” he said.
The show has fascinated viewers for two seasons as cameras follow several colorful hunters on their alligator romps in the Louisiana bayous. The premise gets a bit stale after awhile because each show resembles the next, but Swamp People has expanded its scope to maintain interest, such as by including the hilarious squirrel killers Glenn and Mitchell to the cast.
Now the film crew is coming to the Lone Star State, said Cooper, who is stationed in Port Arthur. He said Texas has the third largest alligator population behind Florida and Louisiana.
“We’re anywhere from a half million to a million alligators,” he said.
And we’ve got some monsters. Male alligators in Texas grow to about 14 feet, while the females top out at about 10 feet.
Cooper lives and breathes alligators, but he can hardly stand to watch Swamp People.
“They sensationalize,” he said.
For instance, the hunters on TV routinely pull alligators into their boats by themselves or with a helper and claim they weigh 600 or 800 pounds.
“It takes six men to pick up a 600 pounder,” he said. “No two people is gonna put a 600-pound alligator in a boat. That’s the main thing that bothers me, is they’re lying about the weight.”
Swamp People also dramatizes the hunt, he said. On TV, the hunters bait the hook, and then after an alligator is caught, they fight it in a long battle of man against beast with lots of yelling and pulling and yanking while another hunter tries desperately to shoot the quarter-sized sweet spot on top of the alligator’s head.
“Shoowt ‘im!” is the familiar cry from one of the show’s most popular characters, Troy.
In reality, the alligator will most likely come to the surface more calmly, and a hunter will put his gun 12 inches from the sweet spot and pull the trigger with little struggle.
Shooting the gator in the sweet spot separates its artery from the brain and kills it in an instant but without destroying the skull, which is a valuable part of the animal.
Still, Cooper acknowledges the show ’s popularity and said it has increased the interest in hunting gators in Texas.
“This year we noticed more [hunters] in the spring season and it was probably due to these shows,” he said.
Keep in mind, however, that alligators are a protected species with plenty of regulations. Most of the hunting is done on private property, although Texas has four wildlife management areas that allow gator hunting.