Troy Landry makes his living fishing for crawfish nine months out of the year and alligators for one.
During alligator season in September, a television cameraman follows Landry, who just finished filming the fifth season of the History Channel's “Swamp People.”
It's a television show that changed his life.
“Now, everywhere I go most people recognize me,” Landry said. “It's hard to get work done, but it's all for the good. People love us, my boys and I.”
The alligator hunter from Pierre Part, La., and one of the stars of “Swamp People” will be in Oklahoma City on Saturday.
He will be signing autographs at O'Connor's Lawn and Garden store near Quail Springs Mall between noon and 4 p.m.
Landry says he makes about 150 such appearances each year to meet fans of the show, which he thinks might be nearing its end.
“I am going to do it as long as it lasts,” Landry said with his thick, Cajun drawl . “I think if we are lucky, we might have a couple of years left.
“I think we have seen our better days to be honest with you, but this year I think we have got some of the best footage we ever have. We caught some real big ones.”
When the producers of “Swamp People” arrived in Louisiana looking to film a reality series about alligator hunters, state wildlife officials suggested Landry, who has spent his life in the swamp hunting gators.
Landry said he was probably only 3 or 4 years old when he started accompanying his father on alligator hunts.
Today, Landry and one of his sons share more than 500 alligator tags each season. Landry has caught as many as 82 in a day and only felt a gator's teeth once.
“I have been bit once in the foot by a small one, not a real big one,” he said. “I have probably four or five close calls from some big ones.”
None of those close calls have deterred him from finding a new occupation.
“That's how we make our living,” he said. “That's how we pay our bills. If you have an accident driving to work, you are not gong to quit your job.”
The television show has put more money in Landry's pocket, but he said 50 percent of his income is still earned from alligator fishing.
He sells the gators to his brother, who in turn sells the hides to tanneries and the meat to restaurants.
The state of Louisiana issues 30,000 alligator tags each season to 2,200 licensed hunters, and they bring in a small fraction of the gators in Louisiana, which has an estimated population of 2 million, he said.
“They only let us harvest what they think is excess,” he said.
Rotten chickens or rotten beef is the best alligator bait, he said.
“The more rotten, the better,” Landry said.
Landry was leery of being on television initially. He didn't like the idea of a cameraman tagging along on his alligator hunts.
“I figured it would be nothing but a pain in the butt,” he said.
But the price of alligators was down that year, and the producers agreed to pay his expenses.
“If it wouldn't have been for them, I wouldn't have made any money that year,” Landry said.
The fifth season of “Swamp People”' begins airing in February.
When the show finally ends, Landry says he will stay in the swamp and keep doing what he has done all of his life.
“It will just be a little bit easier (to do) without a camera in my face,” he said.