Swamp People

Season 1 Episode 8

Gator Voodoo

Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Oct 17, 2010 on The History Channel

Episode Recap

The episode begins in Bayou Sorrel with Junior, Willie, and Malcolm out on the water hunting. The narrator notes that there is less than one week remaining in alligator season and Junior has caught over 200 alligators. He still needs to catch 50 more. They check the bait lines to see if they have caught any alligators. The narrator notes that the area Junior is fishing in now has brought him luck every season. However, on this day, all of the bait lines are empty. The alligators aren't taking any bait lines. Junior says that he can't explain the reasons why the alligators are gone. He says that sometimes the alligators will bite on every hook and other times they won't touch a single one. Junior says that they have more tags to fill and they need to step it up. Junior is very upset to see that all of his lines are empty. Malcolm notes that it can't get any worse than this.

Fifty miles away, Bruce and Tyler are experiencing the same issue. Bruce has been checking lines for over three hours and has not caught a single alligator. Bruce is very upset that the alligators aren't biting. He admits that in all of his years of alligator hunting he's never seen it this deserted on his lines. The narrator says that Bruce has a theory for why the alligators have gone missing and he thinks that it's a storm that blew over the area recently. Bruce feels in the water and notes that it is too cold for alligators to be out. The narrator says that when alligators feel that the water is too cold, they will sometimes go into early hibernation. Bruce says that when the northern winds start to blow in the alligators start to behave very strangely. He says that they don't eat when they are in hibernation. The narrator also notes that the water levels have risen which has allowed other animals to bite at the lines. Bruce says that if they don't catch the alligators now they won't be able to catch them at all. He says that it's like a worker getting laid off of his job. He says that he won't get his money and then he won't be able to catch the alligators. Bruce still needs to catch 33 more alligators.

Forty miles away in Myrtle Grove, LaFont and Chauvin aren't aware yet that the alligators aren't biting. LaFont and Chauvin have actually tagged out and have caught all the alligators they were allowed this season. As a result, they are allowed to take some time off. However, LaFont gets a phone call that might change all of that. A landowner has offered him 103 more alligator tags. This could earn the team $10,000 extra for the season. There is a risk in the men taking the extra tags because if they are not able to fill all of their tags, the gaming commission will cut the amount of tags they are allowed to obtain for next year. The narrator says that for many years alligators were hunted without many regulations. By 1967, alligators were near extinction so hunting had to be limited. By the 1980s, the alligator population exploded and hunting was brought back with moderations. This led to the tag system. LaFont says that he's going to think about the decision. LaFont is aware that the alligators start to become scarce towards the end of the season and it isn't an easy decision. LaFont says that 103 tags is a lot of alligators. He knows that someone else will take the tags if he doesn't and he decides to take the extra tags. He says that he is the captain of the boat over Chauvin so he made the ruling on his own. LaFont tells Chauvin that they are going to take the tags and Chauvin is nervous about that. He thinks that it is a crazy idea for them to take the tags. Chauvin isn't happy about the decision, but he bites his tongue and goes out on the water with LaFont. Chauvin says that they need to deal with what they are given and LaFont and Chauvin are back out on the water.

Only one week is left in the alligator season and LaFont and Chauvin have taken 103 more tags. The narrator notes that LaFont and Chauvin are unaware that the alligators are not biting the lines. LaFont and Chauvin get their lines ready and they bait them. Chauvin still isn't thrilled about the decision that LaFont made especially since there is only one week left. The new tags are from an area that LaFont has never fished in. The property is open marshland which is different than the swamps that LaFont and Chauvin are used to hunting in. The narrator notes that alligators can survive in both of these environments. With fewer trees, hanging the bait is harder and both men are feeling the pressure of setting the bait lines. They have to set poles in the water in order to set the bait lines. LaFont sees a big alligator swimming in the swamp and notes that the area is looking promising. Chauvin grabs the sniper rifle and hopes to hit the alligator in open water. LaFont does not want that to happen because they need to set more lines. As the sun goes down, LaFont and Chauvin still have thirty lines to set, but Chauvin wants to go home. LaFont wants to get more lines set up in the bayou before they go back. The narrator notes that the bayou is a dangerous place in the dark. LaFont says that the swamp can be a very dangerous place at night and it's possible for people to get lost if they don't know where to go. They finally set their last line at a willow tree. LaFont notes that to catch the 103 alligators they need a good start.

Eighty miles west, Junior is dealing with a very big problem. He knows that the hunt has stopped and he still has over 40 tags left. He is scared of not tagging out. Junior thinks that he knows why the alligators aren't biting and he blames it on the full moon. Junior states that during the full moon, alligators are able to see the hooks and string so they won't bite. Junior decides to figure out a new plan. He is going to hunt the alligators with his treble hook out in the open water. Junior says that he uses a treble hook to snag the alligators and he makes it efficient because he knows how to catch an alligator like that. He searches the map for open water locations and found spot that he hasn't hunted in his territory. Junior knows that he needs to see the success to believe it.

Since alligators feed at night Junior has to go out in the dark in order to find the alligators in abundance. Junior heads into the new territory and hopes that he sees the alligators. Junior says that he sees things in the swamp many people would miss. At night, most creatures actually see a human before the human sees them. Some carps actually jump into the boat because of the motor humming. Junior says that a fisherman just needs to drive past in order to catch fish, but he wants to see alligators. He uses his spotlight to look and he spots a wave. He knows that there is an alligator out there and he is able to spot it. Junior is able to judge the size of the alligator just by looking at his head and he knows that it's a big one. Junior is amazed at the amount of alligators that he sees and there are several of them. Junior is ready for tomorrow and he will use his treble hook to catch the alligators.

The next morning, Bruce is hoping that the warmer weather will bring better luck. Bruce knows that the alligators are affected by the weather and when a cold front comes in they quit biting. Bruce's lines came up empty yesterday, but hopefully things will change for him today. The next morning ends up bringing more bad news. Bruce sees more of his lines are empty on this day. However, he does see a line that's under the water. While it has some slack, there is a chance that a small alligator is on the other line. Bruce pulls on the line, but it's just an empty bait line that sunk. Bruce is very disappointed.

LaFont and Chauvin go back out on the water to see if the new territory pays off. LaFont hopes to get thirty alligators today to get a big start on the 103 tags that they obtained. LaFont sees that the first line is down which means an alligator might be under the boat. LaFont pulls on the line, but it turns out to be tangled around a tree branch. The next line shows nothing as well. LaFont and Chauvin are starting to feel nervous as each line turns up empty with no alligators. LaFont and Chauvin are finally learning that the alligators have stopped biting on the lines. Chauvin thinks that this is voodoo. The narrator notes that Cajuns are superstitious and they are always trying to figure out why the alligators aren't biting. LaFont sees buzzards in the tree and starts to get really concerned about that sign. LaFont and Chauvin are still not having luck as they continue to check their lines. Chauvin is worried that they haven't caught a single alligator. He knew that it wasn't a good idea to take the extra tags and now they are paying the price.

The next day, Junior gets out on the water to use his treble hook to catch the alligators. Junior, Willie, and Malcolm head out with their new treble hooks to catch the alligators in open water and Junior knows that there are alligators to catch. Junior says that with the full moon they need to get the alligators with the hook. They see an alligator nest with baby alligators on the shore. Above the waterline, female alligators will build nests for their newborn out of sticks, leaves, and mud. The sun will heat the eggs. Junior notes the baby alligators and states that it's hard to believe that they will grow up to be anywhere from eight to ten feet long on average. The narrator states that baby alligators are about a foot long when they are born, but they can grow another foot by the time they are one. Willie knows that the alligators are making noises as a distress call to their mother. The narrator states that alligators are among the top territorial reptiles and are aggressive when protecting their young. Junior sees the mother alligator approaching and the crew gets away before she attacks them. Despite being desperate for alligators, Junior respects the honors of the swamp by letting the female alligator live so she can raise her young. They head out to the middle of the water and spot bubbles in the water. They know an alligator is there. Willie has to time tossing the hook perfectly. Willie's first throw is a success and he snags an alligator. Willie pulls the alligator towards the boat, but the hook detaches from the alligator's mouth. Junior is angry, but they spot it again. Willie tosses again and he is able to get the alligator back on the hook. However, the tail was hooked so the alligator is able to throw it off. Junior realizes that if they can't master the treble hook they are going to be in trouble.

In Hammond, Bruce fears that he has to return to the house empty for the second day in a row. Bruce still needs fifty more tags. He rounds his last bait line and notices that something is hooked on it. However, when he gets to the hook, he realizes that it isn't an alligator. It's a catfish, but it's something that he can use. Bruce says that he has something good to eat and he knows what he's going to eat. Bruce takes the catfish home and starts to carve it up. Bruce knows the secrets to getting everything he can from the catfish. Bruce says that he cuts strips off of the belly and puts it in his pipe to smoke. The fish has six pounds of catfish for dinner he can use for him and his wife, Janet. Bruce worries about the alligators disappearing and he tells Janet that he really needs to catch them. After lunch, Bruce makes some lines for tomorrow. He realizes that he is running out of time and needs to use better methods. He plans on hanging his bait lines higher so only alligators can reach it. Bruce says that the tide is coming back up so they need to hang the hooks higher and desperate times are calling for desperate measures.

Seventy miles away, LaFont and Chauvin regroup after a terrible day on the bayou. They have five days to catch 103 alligators. Chauvin is turning to his secret remedy, Shake n Bake, to see if they can catch the alligators. LaFont says that this might help them catch the alligators. They pour the Shake n Bake into the bucket. Chauvin says that his grandfather showed him the Shake n Bake and he wants to use it to see if it works. The alligators cannot resist the smell of the Shake n Bake and he knows that it will get the alligators excited. The two are going to reset the lines and hope that the alligators start to bite.

Junior and Willie spot a large alligator in the open water and they start to go after it. When they lost a ten foot alligator earlier, it brought down the spirits of Junior and Willie. Willie is determined not to let this one get away. The alligator is a large one and starts to pull on the boat. Willie tries to pull it in but the alligator is able to get loose. Junior knows that there aren't many times where they get second chances with an alligator. Junior says that if they don't take the opportunity to catch and kill the alligator, they might not get another chance. Junior and Willie decide to wait and see if they alligator resurfaces above the water. Junior says that it could take anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour, but they will wait it out.

Seventy miles away, Bruce checks his lines to see if the higher bait lines will pay off. He needs 58 more alligators and he hopes to catch a dozen to stay on track. The tide is lower and he's hoping that this worked out. Bruce sees one of his bait lines is down and he thinks that his luck has changed. He thinks it's a large alligator and he finally spots it up on the shore. It is dangerous for Bruce to be out by himself hunting on the shore because if he is hurt there is nobody to help him. Bruce gets on the shore and starts to pull the line up out of the water. Bruce ties off the line and uses the boat to pull the alligator out into plain sight. The trick works and the alligator is exposed. Bruce grabs his gun and shoots the alligator in the kill spot. He is very happy to get the huge alligator out of the water. He ties the alligator's mouth shut in case it isn't dead yet and brings it up. The narrator says that an alligator's jaws can bite down with over two thousand pounds of force. When the alligator is killed, control of the jaw is weak so Bruce ties it shut to protect himself. The alligator is over ten feet long and Bruce thinks that his luck is about to change.

LaFont and Chauvin continue to set their Shake n Bake lines to catch the alligators. The narrator notes that if they can't catch the alligators, they will lose out on thousands of dollars. He sees that they can be penalized in next year's hunt. They approach the area and find that the line is still hanging. All of the lines are starting to turn up empty and they realize that the Shake n Bake might not be working. They are really starting to get devastated and LaFont realizes that this could be a disaster for him and Chauvin. Their plan to lure alligators with the Shake n Bake has failed. Time is running out on the day and the season so they head to the last canal. On the first line, LaFont sees movement in the water where the line has been baited. They see that an alligator is on the line. LaFont realizes that it is a nice alligator and Chauvin gets the sniper rifle. Chauvin feels pressure to fire a perfect shot. LaFont pulls the alligator out of the water and Chauvin gets the rifle ready. He fires and the shot is a direct hit. The curse is broken and they finally catch an alligator. Chauvin and LaFont are excited about their catch, but they need to know if there are more alligators. They see another alligator on their second line and catch it. As they head down the last canal, they realize that their luck has turned around and they catch several alligators. They even find one alligator that's already dead on the line. The Shake n Bake is proving successful and Chauvin and LaFont bring in a season high of 35 alligators. LaFont is glad that Chauvin reminded him of the Shake n Bake. Chauvin realizes that while he did think of the extra tags as a bad idea at first, he realizes that now they might be in really good shape. He is glad that they got the Shake n Bake on the lines and hopes they can catch the rest of the alligators they need.

Junior and Willie still don't have alligators inside their boat for the second day. They have still had no luck with the treble hook and they are in a holding pattern waiting for a large alligator to resurface. They finally spot the alligator sticking out of the water. Willie gets the treble hook ready to throw and he hooks the alligator again. Willie holds the alligator tight and he thinks it's an eleven foot alligator. The alligator dives under the boat and Willie pulls hard to get the alligator back up. Willie is having a lot of difficulty and Junior takes the shot. It's a success and they get their alligator. Junior doesn't even have to restart the boat before another alligator appears. Willie throws the line and is able to snag another alligator. The rope is burning in his hands, but Willie hangs on tight. The alligator comes up fighting and Junior takes the shot. They have another alligator and is a ten footer. Junior and Willie are able to hook plenty of alligators and are pleased with the success. The day turns out to be great for Junior and Willie and their boat is filled with seven large alligators.

Elsewhere, LaFont and Chauvin blow off some steam by attending a Fishing Rodeo. They do some partying to celebrate. LaFont says that it's nice to take a break and he knew that Chauvin needed one. Chauvin states that while LaFont is his step father, he feels like LaFont has always been his actual father. He says that LaFont taught him everything and they do everything together. Chauvin says that alligator season is all work and no play, but they finally got a chance to get away and have some fun. LaFont busts out his favorite dance move, The Alligator Roll. Everyone has a good time watching the Alligator Roll. The episode ends with everyone dancing and having a good time.

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