It’s not an understatement that alligator hunting is not an occupation for everyone. Besides the obvious fact that you must have some experience to be able to track down and catch such a dangerous animal, it’s obvious that a lot of people aren’t courageous, or foolhardy enough to even give it a try anyway.
Of course, this is not the case with the guys from “Swamp People”, a History channel show which premiered in 2010, and has kept high ratings and a very loyal audience over the years.
While the obvious attraction of the show is the whole danger factor that hunting ‘gators entail, viewers have come to care about the cast members and their life just as much. It’s due to this that it’s often worrisome when a hunter suddenly stops appearing in it, such as in Junior Edwards’ case, who surprisingly left “Swamp People” in its sixth season.
So what happened to him and what is he doing now? Keep with us to discover it!
What Happened To Junior Edwards?
To understand why Junior Edwards was left out of the show, we should go back to 2016 when “Swamp People”s sixth season finished airing. As it happened, prior to this many executive changes were made to the show, leading to the incorporation of new producers who weren’t very keen about keeping things as they were. As a result, not only was Junior Edwards fired, but so also was his family, in addition to Liz Choate, Joe LaFont, Tommy Chauvin and others cast members who were in the series from the start.
While the news of their exit was surprising to say the least, the real drama was yet to come. Besides Liz Choate’s accusations that History channel and the show’s production company was trying to censure her and other cast members from telling the truth about their firing, Junior also had some things to say about it.
On Facebook, he denied that he or his family were asking for a pay raise, which was initially rumored to be the reason for their exit.
Although it’s unknown who exactly spread that gossip, Junior hinted that it was a family who appeared in the show who said it. He also pointed out that History had only informed them their contract hadn’t been renewed and that they didn’t have further information on the topic.
What Is He Doing Now?
After such an uncomfortable situation, it was clear that the show’s cast weren’t necessarily very friendly with each other. Even more, Junior Edwards pointed out that after spending an entire life in the swamp, his family didn’t ‘need a camera’ to follow them around to keep doing their job.
Considering all of that past drama, Junior’s return to “Swamp People” seemed an improbable possibility.
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However, in 2018 Junior confirmed on Facebook that he was open about joining the show again. In his words, he had received many requests from fans wanting the original cast members’ to return to the show, to which he answered that while History will always have the upper hand in that decision, if the audience was ‘loud’ enough in their requests, the network could consider it.
However, it wasn’t until the 12th season of “Swamp People” premiered in 2021, that Junior Edwards finally made his return to the series. It’s unknown if this TV comeback, which also included the expert gator hunter Liz Choate, was caused by the fans’ efforts to bring the original cast back in the show or if it was a way of compensating them for the production’s past decisions that affected them. Anyway, it’s nice to see them back.
What Happened To Junior’s Son?
If you watched “Swamp People” from the start, you might know Junior Edwards and his entire family spent a lot of time tracking and hunting down alligators. The business was a family thing for them, and a way of spending time together, even if the activity was dangerous to say the least.
Sometimes Junior’s wife Theresa took part in his ‘gator-hunting trips, but more often than not it was his sons Randy and Willie who accompanied him. For his part, Willie was the only Edwards who wasn’t fired back in the sixth season, but many people wondered what happened to his brother Randy following his exit from the show.
Unfortunately, Randy was killed in a car crash in September 2018. The news of his sudden death was posted by his family, who asked for people’s prayers and respect during that hard time.
Following police reports, the accident happened when Randy lost control of his 2002 Chevrolet, striking a car pole which made the automobile overturn and eject Randy out of it. Though it remains unconfirmed, it’s supposed Randy had been driving under the influence, and wasn’t wearing a seat-belt.
At the time of his death, Randy was 35 years old and left behind a wife and three kids, his parents and brother.
Who Is Junior Edwards?
A native of Bayou Sorrel in Louisiana, it’s only normal that Junior Edwards would follow the local tradition of hunting ‘gators. Dating back to centuries ago, the activity not only represents many family’s source of income, but has also become a tradition, but is tightly controlled to keep the ‘gator population at a manageable level.
— Swamp People (@SwampPeople) August 3, 2014
In Junior’s case, he has managed to make selling ‘gator hides and meat his family business as well. However, when he’s not hunting, he’s either in the swamps occupied collecting ‘gator’s eggs for selling, or fishing and hunting other animals. While it’s truly difficult to basically live off the land like he does, Junior is normally a humble person. Even when he re-tells the story of one his limbs being almost bitten off by an alligator, he does so with a sense of humor and not much of an ego, a very interesting part of his personality which is probably why he gained the favouritism of “Swamp People”s fans.
While not a lot is known about Junior Edwards’ childhood or education, his hunting feats compensate for the lack of personal information about him on the internet.
Whether it’s that he hunted a 35 feet-long gator by himself, or that he’s been close to losing his life in the swamp more than a few times, facts surely speak louder for himself than words ever could.
Debut On TV
If there’s something that the past decade taught us, it’s that reality TV has a place for everyone. While at first the genre was mostly focused on celebrities and survival experts, nowadays you can find almost every lifestyle on TV thanks to it.
While History has its own brand of reality television well established, “Swamp People” is one of those shows which have our loyal attention for being unique. The same could be said about its cast, as you couldn’t find men and women elsewhere, able to do what the show’s hunters do.
In this particular regard, when Junior Edwards introduced himself in the show’s first season, we just knew he wasn’t like any other guy.
He ended up proving us right by catching ‘gator after ‘gator with unrelenting will.
Just to name only one of his most memorable feats in the show, we should go back to the third season, when he and his son Willie caught ‘Big Bertha’, a 12 feet-long alligator who they’d had their eyes on for a long time. Though the animal was fierce enough to give them a hard time, it was a shock to discover it turned out to be a male gator.
While Junior has too much of a temper while in the swamps, his hunting feats during the following seasons ended up increasing his popularity.
While we don’t know much about Junior Edwards’ parents, it’s undeniable that he’s thoroughly a family guy. Junior’s wife Theresa was introduced along with their sons back in the show’s first season, and subsequently appeared in it until their exit at the end of the sixth season.
Are you a fan of Junior and Willie? Click “LIKE” if you are, and find out all about them here: http://histv.co/6GT (©AETN / Photo Credit: Zach Dilgard)
As the only one who continued appearing in the series, Willie was quite successful while doing so. His appearances in the show along with the family business, which encompass the Edwards’ ‘gator hunting and commercial fishing activities, are the main source of income of his young family.
Besides their fishing business, Junior, Theresa and Willie tried their luck in the tourist field as well. For a couple of years, they actively offered tours and guided fishing trips through Louisiana’s Atchafalaya River Basin. In addition, they released a merchandise line which was sold in larger quantities to local shops. However, considering the business’ website has been inactive since 2015, it seems that their small project either wasn’t as profitable as they hoped, or they just lost interest in keeping it active.
Salaries for reality TV stars are notoriously difficult to ascertain, virtually secret when it comes to these types of shows, as usually the whole ‘reality’ premise stops networks and production companies from allowing their stars to reveal too much off-camera about what happens, particularly as there’s no standard contract or salary for the cast.
In the case of “Swamp People”, details about the show’s budget are mostly kept in the dark. While it’s only rumored that some of its cast members earn around $25,000 per episode, not a lot is known about Junior Edwards’ salary.
So how rich is he? Despite the lack of information about his income from the show, we can estimate Junior Edwards’ net worth at around $500,000, resulting from his fishing and hunting businesses, which apparently are active all year round.
Is “Swamp People” Fake?
Despite being one of the most successful TV genres of the last decade, not a lot of people really trust reality shows that much.
No one can fault them though, as more often than not these types of shows have either over-dramatic premises or showcase situations which are not very believable.
Regardless of that, there are still many reality shows which are trustworthy enough for us to watch, without trying to dissect them in search of errors. In this category we could safely include “Swamp People”, despite it not necessarily being 100% real.
When you watch the show, you might notice that the way it’s edited, musicalized and camera angles are perfectly set to make us believe that something bad is surely about to happen. However, even with the fact that there are wild and extremely dangerous animals involved in the whole thing, most of the time the tracking and hunting down ends up well.
While the over dramatization it’s obviously seen as unnecessary for many, it’s guaranteed that what we’re seeing on the show is absolutely real. Of course, the way it looks on screen is more interesting than it actually is in real life, but that’s just the so-called magic of television on display, and it doesn’t mean the series is fake.
Is ‘Gator Hunting Profitable?
Would you put your life at potential risk just for a hobby? While the answer might be affirmative from people who practice highly-demanding sports and activities alike, this doesn’t necessarily apply to the guys in “Swamp People”. It’s a known fact that even if the show’s hunters’ profession puts them in danger all the time, they don’t do it just for fun or the experience, but for the money.
However, even if this gives off the impression that they earn a lot from hunting gators, this isn’t exactly true. As reported by New Orleans Public Radio, the price of unprocessed alligator was $7.50 per foot – a third of a meter – in 2018, though the animal must be over seven foot-long for it to be marketable.
Right now you might be wondering, if they don’t do it for the experience or the money, then why do they bother? The truth is that while no one really becomes rich by selling alligator hides nowadays, the hunters still can make enough money out of it for the year ahead, but which is focused on their other jobs or businesses to provide for their family.
Is The Show Still On Air?
If you have lost track of what has been happening recently with “Swamp People”, then we have some good news for you. The show is still on air, and by the looks of things, it will continue to be renewed for more seasons.
Besides the recent return of Junior Edwards to the show, the cast has been more or less the same since the seventh season. Well-known hunters like Jacob Landry and Bruce Mitchell haven’t left the show, while new faces such as Ashley Jones, Ronnie Adams and Destin Choate have joined in recent seasons.
A nice novelty in the show is Junior’s grandson – “Little” William Edwards – who has gained popularity since he joined “Swamp People” in its 11th season, making it obvious that the Edwards family still has a lot to give to the show for the foreseeable future.