Folks say that film is a director’s medium, that tv is a writer’s medium, and that reality tv is a casting director’s medium. Swamp People is the best example I can think of to prove that last point. Not only is the show full of compelling real-life characters filmed doing remarkable things, each of those characters has a distinctly different angle on making a life and a living in the Southern Louisiana swamp. So, when you tune into Swamp People, you don’t only see an age old American way of life, but you get to see it pursued in eight or ten interestingly different ways. The Guist Brothers, The Molineres, The Landrys, and the rest of the folks featured on Swamp People might all live in the same region and all hunt alligators, but the comparisons start to fall apart when you start looking much closer than that.
Even with all the diversity presented on the show, according to one clear standard you can put Terral Evans on one side of a bright line and all the other Swamp People stars across on the other side. Here’s the line: Terral doesn’t kill alligators; everyone else on the show does. Instead of going for the quarter-sized kill spot after hooking a gator on a steel hook baited with rancid chicken, Terral lassos gators around the neck, wrestles them out of the water with the help of another lasso or two and some friends with strong backs, grabs and closes the gators’ jaws with his bare hands, and pulls them into his boat alive where he duck tapes down the mouth and any other part of the gator that might injure him or his crew.
Yep. You read it right. He grabs alligators out of the water with his bare hands and pulls them into the boat with him. Live alligators in the boat. With him.
Although Terral might tell you that he catches live alligators for fun, it is also the case that he catches them to help out Mississippi Wildlife and Fisheries. Not all the nuisance alligators actually need to be killed; some just need to be taken where they’re not a nuisance. That’s where Terral comes in. Like many of the the other Swamp People stars, Terral is a man of many swamp talents. In addition to catch and release alligator hunting, the show has featured him catfish noodling, bow-hunting for wild boar, and on a quest to find evidence of a legendary sasquatch-like creature known as the Honey Island Swamp Monster.
Terral was born in the swamp, but he hasn’t been there all his life. He served in the marines and also worked in the oil business. He’s proof that you can take the boy out of the swamp, but you can’t take the swamp out of the boy. He just couldn’t stay gone long. The Pearl River Honey Island Swamp is Terral’s stomping ground, now, though he and his family live in Slidell.
If you can’t satisfy your Terral fix just by watching Swamp People, check out the following videos. Long before Terral became a Swamp People star, his wife, Dana Hollyfield was filming him in action, so there’s loads of footage available. One of her films about the Pearl River Honey Island Swamp, in fact, seems to be what brought Terral to the attention of the Swamp People producers. Here’s a long promotional clip for that movie, Louisiana Swamp Country, which is available on Amazon.com.
She has also written songs about Terral and produced videos for them. Here’s one called “Gator Dundee.”
And, if all this swamp talk makes you hungry, the Evans got just what you need. Here’s Dana’s Swamp Cooking cookbook, which also features our man, Terral.