the swamp. They’re the words that greet you at the start of every
episode, heralding in another adventure in the Louisiana Bayou.
People takes place in the Atchafalaya swamp, a sprawling expanse of
canals, ponds and bays that is home to some dangerous critters: Gar
fish, cottonmouth snakes, and of course alligators- lots and lots of
alligators. This History Channel series documents the 30-day period of
the year when humans are legally allowed to hunt the apex predator of
the swamp. ‘Gatorin’ is a dangerous, hard, dirty job, and it takes a
resilient kind of soul to go out every day and haul the reptiles in.
there’s no shortage of toughness out here. During the first few episodes
you’ll be introduced to the characters who make their living this way:
Junior and Willie, the father-and-son team; Troy the good-natured hunter
who doesn’t mind telling a tall tale; Bruce and Mike, who go it alone;
Joe and Tommy, the super-competitive pair who regularly bite off more
than they can chew.
subject matter provides ample fodder for an exciting, fast-moving
series. Every time the hunters try to pull an enraged ‘gator close
enough to their boat to get a shot in, you expect something to go wrong.
It often does. It’s very much a show about primal instincts- the fight
for survival, man against reptile, tooth, claw and cunning against
muscle, ingenuity and lead. All of the monster ‘gators are given
individual nicknames based on their traits: Bighead, Godzilla, Loch
As well as
the frightening and dramatic, Swamp People also has its funnier moments,
such as when Junior reluctantly allows an Italian fashion designer onto
his boat during the peak of the hunt. ‘Italy Guy’ wants to meet his next
handbag while it’s still alive, and none too happy with that fate.
A big nod
needs to go to the narration by Pat Duke, which is brilliant. Far from
being a passive voice, Duke tells a story and involves you in it. His
deep, mellow voice is rich with local inflections and idioms, as natural
a part of the aural landscape as the chirps of birds and frogs.
Even as a
total ‘Greenhorn,’ you come away from the experience feeling as if
you’ve learned something- that you’ve been initiated into an inner
circle of special knowledge and tradition.
about conservation and animal cruelty are left alone, so if those things
make you squeamish you‘d best give Swamp People a miss. This is not a
moral debate, just a fair and frank depiction of a way of life.
There is a
ton of bonus footage included here. A highlight is Jacob’s trip to the
taxidermist, where he gets the head of the infamous ‘Loch Ness’ turned
into a trophy mount. Also included are various interviews and anecdotes
that didn’t make the final cut.
‘gator is thrashing and snapping at the end of the line you’re gripping
in one hand. He rolls furiously, churning the water, threatening to
destabilise your boat and pull you in. While this is happening you have
to aim your heavy rifle at the creature’s only weak area, a soft fleshy
spot the size of a small coin. Swamp People puts you right in the thick
of this kind of action. It’s adventure television done right. My
stomach’s rumblin’ for some deep fried ‘gator, Cajun style.