“An alligator is a killing machine. If he thinks it’s edible he’s going to eat it. They’ll try anything.” The crowd had lots of questions and Jay Paul and RJ Molinere answered them all.
Have you ever watched the TV show Swamp People on the History Channel? If not, put it on your list of things to do this fall as two members of the Houma Nation, RJ Molinere and his son, Jay Paul, are featured on the show. They are shown doing what they would be doing anyway – killing alligators. Living off the land and bayous, fishing, crabbing, shrimping, hunting, trapping—all components that have long been a way of life for these people of Louisiana.
They were hosted at Julyamsh Powwow in mid-July by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, and during their two days here the line of people to meet them, to have a photo taken with them, and perhaps purchase a T-shirt and have it autographed, seemed never ending. It was obvious the show was well known and well liked, and, that RJ and Jay Paul are a big part of that.
Hunting alligators has been part of RJ’s life since he was little, and he finds the past two years of Swamp People rather amazing. “Three years ago I would have never thought that a show like the History Channel brought out would have turned out like this. I’ve been catching alligators for close to 36 years. The History Channel’s sharing it with the world.”
Hunting alligators has also been a major part of RJ’s income for many years. He says that when he started he received about $80 a foot for each animal taken. Times have changed for a variety of reasons, and prices are now much lower, about $28 a foot for the larger alligators and down to half that amount for smaller ones. Last year, the two of them, working as a team, filled their 525 alligator tags during the month-long, September season. The big difference now is they will have from one to five cameramen in the boat with them to film their work for the show.
In addition to their fame in hunting alligators, both men are exceptional athletes. RJ is an outstanding arm wrestler, having won four World Championships at 154 pounds. He is an eleven time National Champion, two time Arnold Classic Armwrestling Champion, and two time GNC champion.
Jay Paul, now 23, calls himself an adrenaline junkie and is a golden gloves champion and an undefeated mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter.
There is one drawback to the notoriety that came with the TV show; the time now spent traveling the country to attend fishing and hunting shows and pow wows cuts into other hobbies. “We don’t get to hunt as much. We don’t get to work out as much. I don’t get to arm wrestle as much and Jay doesn’t get to fight as much – things like that,” RJ said.
“But it’s for the people,” RJ explains. “We put that on hold a little while. It’s more of a spirit. We put that other stuff aside and take care of the stuff that needs to be taken care of.” He explained that at many shows the lines to meet them continues nonstop for 7 or 8 hours at a time.
This trip to Julyamsh provided an opportunity to bring part of the family along and make it partly a vacation. “This was real special,” RJ said. His wife Stacey and daughter Brittany both made the trip, along with her youngsters, A’yiana and Jhai. The adults helped out selling T-shirts and greeting the visitors.
The men are very gracious, frequently standing to shake hands or to encourage someone to come forward who might be a little shy.
A question and answer period provided opportunities to hear a little bit more about what these men are like. About guns Jay Paul replied, “My dad started me. I love guns. I’m a gun fanatic. That’s how I was raised. When I’m home I’ve always got a gun on me,
I’m out in the woods, shooting, target practicing, I’m doing it all.”
About steel toed boots, Jay Paul explained he always wears them when hunting gators. “If I hadn’t had steel toed boots that (particular) day, the alligator would have taken half my foot off.”
Asked why the fishing lines of others on the show sometimes break and theirs don’t, Jay Paul replied. “We use a light weight nylon braided rope and theirs is nylon.” He added that they also use a different caliber rifle. “Me and my dad are different from all others. That’s Native pride is what it is,” he laughed.
How were they selected for the show? “They wanted to see if the Houma Nation still lived on the land like they did way back,” Jay Paul explained. “They asked, ‘who do you think is the best on the bayou?’ and everyone said ‘RJ Molinere, that’s the alligator man.’ My dad said he wasn’t filming without me. So that’s how they got me and my dad.”
They’re genuine people and represent the Houma Nation and Indian country very well.