At first, alligator hunter Troy Landry wasn't too excited about the prospect of appearing on a reality TV show. "We have so much work to do in that month's time of the season that I didn't think I'd have time to be bringing camera people with me and all that in the boat," he says. "But I decided to try it, and I'm glad I did."
The Pierre Part, La. native, his son Jacob and other alligator hunters living in the Atchafalaya Basin Swamp are the stars of History's Swamp People, which has been the most successful series for the network and progenitor of a trend of reality shows set in Louisiana's backwoods. Just as the show has been a boon for History, it's been a great jolt for the Landry's family and business.
"The year (the show approached them) the price of alligators had dropped to nothing, and I don't think I would have paid my expenses that year if it wasn't for the History Channel," Landry says. "Alligators that went for $48 a foot the year before went from $12 a foot that year. So if it wasn't for them paying my expenses, I'd don't think I'd have made a dollar that whole month."
Landry says his family is enjoying its newfound celebrity. They're often paid to appear at private parties, crawfish boils and large public events. "We're traveling a lot," he says. "We're getting to see a lot of the country that we wouldn't have been able to see otherwise. So it's been very, very, very good for my family."
Despite their fame, the Landrys still have a job to do, and being a reality TV star can be time-consuming.
"There's always visitors looking, tourists coming through the town looking for us from all over the country, and now all over the world," Landry says. "We got people from other countries now showing up looking for us. It's hard to get work done now." — LAUREN LABORDE