A part of what makes Swamp People compelling is getting to glimpse a traditional way of life that requires remarkable skill and fearlessness, has been practiced continuously for centuries (at least), and is happening right now in our own American backyard even though it seems like another world and another time. Folks in southern Louisiana have been wrestling their living out of the muddy water one prehistoric-looking creature at time for longer than anyone remembers, and today’s hunters are determined to keep the tradition alive.
Another part of why we can’t get enough of Swamp People is getting to know the families that live in the swamps and seeing how the art of alligator hunting has been passed down through the generations from father to son. RJ and Jay Paul Molinere don’t exactly make alligator hunting look easy–no one could do that–but it isn’t hard to see why they wouldn’t be anywhere else during the one month a year that alligators in Louisiana are still fair game.
RJ Molinere and Jay Paul Molinere are the newest father/son team to join the History Channel’s hit reality show Swamp People. Hailing from Houma, Louisiana, the Molinere men bring a calmness to alligator hunting that is not exactly typical on the show. In fact, they exude calmness and confidence even in the messiest, swampiest situations.
If the weather’s not right, they hop on their air boat and hunt somewhere where it is. If someone has been tampering with their lines, they go after them. If they realize that the hunters they thought were poaching from them weren’t in the wrong, they exhale and back off.
You’re not going to find anyone getting accidentally shot on their boat. (Yes. I’m talking to you, Junior.) You are not going to hear any bickering (That one’s for you, Joe and Tommy.). And it is unimaginable that they would change their team (like Troy did this season).
RJ and Jay Paul seem to be able to read each other’s minds. They coordinate the dangerous and complicated maneuvers required for pulling in big alligators almost like a choreographed dance. There is no choreography, though, and missteps could be deadly.
RJ, the papa in the pair, had a claim to fame before TV cameras started filming him pulling huge alligators out of the Louisiana swamp with his bare hands. Molinere has been doing other impressive things with his bare hands for years. He is a four-time U.S. arm wrestling champion!
Even though it sounds like something someone would make up in order to pick up a girl in a bar, it turns out to be true that RJ earned two of those national championships with his right arm and the other two with his left. When you take a look at this arm wrestling how-to video, though, you can believe it. Did you see how he climbed that wall? Between Molinere’s slight build and his unbelievable arm strength, he is a bit of a freak of nature . . . the good kind.
Father and son Molinere are members of the Houma Nation, an Native American tribe from Southern Louisiana with alligator hunting at the center of its culture. While the other hunters in the show count their swamp legacy in generations or centuries, RJ and Jay Paul talk about thousands of years of alligator hunting in their family . They’ve updated their game a bit, though. Apparently, Houma Indians used to kill their alligator prey by pushing a long sharp stick down their mouths, but these days RJ and Jay Paul use a rifle . . . and an airboat.
In the off-season . . . well, there really isn’t an off season for RJ. During the 10 or 11 months that he can’t hunt alligators, he hunts and fishes other game on his family’s 500 acres near Grand Blois, Louisiana and does some shrimping. Besides making his living off the land, he serves as an elder in the Houma Nation and continues to train for arm wrestling competitions.
Jay Paul is a competitor like his dad, but boxing and mixed martial arts are his sports. He won the Gulf Coast Boxing Championship in 2008, the Louisiana Golden Gloves Division Championship in 2009, and the Arnold Sports Festival Boxing event in 2010–all in his 152 lb weight class. And, all these achievements come from a guy who got a serious head injury in a water skiing accident when he was 10 years old, and who was not supposed to ever be able to walk without a limp or talk without a slur. I guess the doctors didn’t know they were dealing with a Molinere.
Here’s a pretty rough video clip of Jay Paul treating another dude like alligator meat in an MMA bout. (The camera zooms in and you get a good look at Jay Paul – in the red trunks – whooping some some serious a**!)
UPDATE – CLICK HERE to see a video clip of Jay Paul made by The history Channel in which he talks about why he started boxing at such a young age and how the things he learns inside the ring help him when he’s hunting gators in the swamps of Louisiana!
Jay Paul’s a family man, too, with a son just a bit too young to join his father and grandfather in this year’s hunt. But, R.J. started taking Jay Paul out with him when he was three, so . . . maybe next year.