Hunting alligators is clearly a job most people weren’t made for. Besides the obvious danger which entails facing such a wild species, most families who dedicate their life to it have been doing it for generations, building on a centuries-old tradition which we only get to see thanks to shows such as “Swamp People”.
Although it won’t ever be possible to know all the inner workings of ‘gator hunting through our TV screens, we surely won’t ever get tired of all the adrenaline-inducing scenes “Swamp People” gives us.
Seeing how much the audiences love “Swamp People”, it’s not surprising there was a huge uproar when the fan favorite hunter Bruce Mitchell suddenly left the show in 2018, and didn’t show any signs of returning.
So whatever happened to him? Why did he leave the show, and what is he doing now? Will he ever come back to “Swamp People”? Stay with us to know all about what’s up with Bruce nowadays!
What Happened To Bruce?
Given his good-humored personality and Southern charm, it wasn’t surprising at all that Bruce Mitchell became one of the most popular and well-loved characters in “Swamp People” since its debut in 2010. However, that came to an end when he left the show after the ninth season wrapped-up in 2018, not giving much of an explanation about his upcoming absence, besides saying that he wanted to spend more time with his family.
Although Bruce remained quite active on social media during his hiatus, a huge number of his followers still missed seeing his hunting ‘gators escapades on TV. Fortunately for all of us, in 2021 his fans’ wishes were answered when Bruce’s return to “Swamp People” was announced for the show’s 12th season.
Besides his return to the series, Bruce has evidently been busy with his online business, guided tours, and sharing videos on his YouTube channel and official Facebook page. As seen on his social media, not only is he still hunting ‘gators in the swamp, but is using his free time cooking his favorite Louisiana-style recipes, traveling, and just having a good time.
His Online Shop
Unsurprisingly, Bruce Mitchell’s appearances on TV gained him unbelievable fame, at least in his native Louisiana. Achieving the status of a local celebrity turned-out well for Bruce financially, allowing him to grow his personal brand through his online shop Bruce The Alligator Man.
You’d be shocked by the wide number of activities his web site offers, starting with guided tours on Lake Maurepas and Lake Pontchartrain while on board the Go Devil, the same boat in which Bruce catches alligators. While these tours allow people to see Louisiana’s wildlife in the swamps and bayous, it’s in no way a hunting service. Bruce and his friend Ronnie Adams also teamed up with a Louisiana plane company to offer air tours over the swamps, allowing his fans to share some quality time with him, while supporting local tourism.
Besides his online services, his merchandise shop offers a wide variety of accessories and clothing, fashioned in a very Bruce way, making it all the more attractive to his fans who sure enough have never got tired of his overalls and hats. Years ago, Bruce’s South La Swamp Heritage Museum was open to the public, but unfortunately the business is now closed.
Social Media & Public Life
Bruce Mitchell’s presence on social media and as a public figure has exponentially grown since his debut in “Swamp People”, serving him well in growing a stable and loyal audience on a variety of platforms.
One of Bruce’s most beloved projects is undoubtedly “Bruce Front Porch”, his YouTube and Facebook live cooking show, which centers mostly on Cajun style food. Bruce’s recipes don’t usually lack on the seasoning, spicy side, often including alligator meat or something he’s fished himself. His streaming schedule is mostly random, giving his followers a spontaneous and friendly experience proper from the Alligator Man himself.
Bruce’s growing audience on Facebook and Instagram has allowed him to promote several products as well, including clothing brands, events and businesses based in his hometown of Hammond, Louisiana. As if that wasn’t enough, Bruce can be booked to appear in public events all around the US, including festivals, food events and even parties. All in all, it’s pretty evident that Bruce has made good use of his fame.
Who Is Bruce Mitchell?
As uncommon as this practice is in other places, it isn’t rare to find people living near Louisiana’s bayous dedicated to hunting alligators. Bruce Mitchell isn’t an exception to this rule, having learnt the craft since his early childhood in Ponchatoula, Louisiana.
As the oldest of five children, the young Bruce split his time helping take care of his siblings, and learning how to catch gators with his grandfather, who also owned a strawberry farm. However, Bruce didn’t dedicate full-time to alligator hunting until 1980, when he moved to the property owned by his wife Janet’s family, the popular Kliebert’s Alligator & Turtle Farm.
Since then, Bruce’s expertise in harvesting and hunting a wide variety of reptiles has grown, to the point he nowadays creates a wide variety of products for sale, such as necklaces, scratches, ornaments and artifacts with the skin and teeth from these animals, while keeping himself away from directly selling ‘gator meat and other consumable products.
While “Swamp People” might give the impression that Bruce spends most of his time focused on catching animals in the swamps, the truth is that he has many other hobbies to keep him busy. Besides cooking and managing a thriving online business, Bruce’s favorite past-time activities are gunsmithing, collecting knives, camping in the wilderness, and biking.
As you might have already noticed thanks to “Swamp People”, and his posts on social media, Bruce Mitchell is a dedicated family man, but less known is the fact that his family’s history in Louisiana is quite interesting.
On his Mitchell side, Bruce’s grandfather John was the first of the clan to establish himself in the Ponchatoula area in the early 1900s.
There he grew-up and dedicated most of his life to harvesting strawberries, a market for which the area is well known. However, Bruce’s mother’s family were established in the area already.
On his part, Bruce met his then-future wife Janet Kliebert while in high school, marrying at 20 years of age in 1980. Janet’s family also has a long history of ‘gator hunting, allegedly establishing the first ‘gator farm in Louisiana in 1962, thanks to the efforts of Janet’s father Harvey Kliebert. Since the Kliebert’s Alligator Farm opened to the public as a tourist attraction in 1984, Bruce has been contributing to it as a guide and hunter.
Regarding their children, Bruce and Janet welcomed their first daughter Lorraine Michelle in 1981, followed by Janice Marie in 1984. They’re now also proud grandparents to two little girls from Lorraine’s side, meanwhile Janice is quite busy working on her career in a health-related field, also managing Bruce’s online shop on the side.
Career On TV
Prior to debuting on TV, Bruce and his family have been long-time fans of History channel.
That’s why when he was invited to be featured in a show focused on the ‘gator hunters in the southern swamps, he just couldn’t say no.
During his time in “Swamp People”, Bruce teamed up with Ron Methvin, who left the series with him in the ninth season, but didn’t return with Bruce 2021. Regarding his relationship with other hunters in the show, Bruce revealed in a question and answer post on his website, that the only co-stars he already knew prior to “Swamp People”s debut were the Landry family. However, he didn’t become very close to any fellow hunter through the show, even though he admits to doing their best ‘to help each other’ when needed. The same can be said about other reality stars from History, except for “Ax Men”s star Shelby Stanga, who has been friends with Bruce for years, given that they live just five miles, eight kms from each other.
Bruce has also appeared in “Serpent Invasion”, a “Swamp People” spin-off premiered in 2020, which focused on several hunters’ efforts to restrict the growth of Burmese pythons in the South.
His Hunting Partners
As seen on “Swamp People”, Bruce usually hunts with Ron Methvin, but things are quite different off-camera. As Bruce states on his website, not only does he usually hunt alone on board his Go Devil 20ft long boat, but he wasn’t acquainted with his partner prior to the show: ‘Ron was hired to be on “Swamp People” same as I was. I just got lucky enough that he was put with me as a ‘gator hunting partner’.
True enough, Ron is quite an interesting man himself. His background as a former Army veteran who served in Afghanistan served him well in helping out Bruce, which surprisingly was also a way for Ron to accomplish his dream of appearing on TV: ‘For a real working man, this is probably as close as I’m going to get to it, so I figured I’d better jump on it’, he said to Houma Today in 2017.
Besides being an avid outdoorsman, in the 1990s Ron served in Louisiana’s National Guard, passing on to work as a correctional officer, supervisor and as an investigator in the narcotics department.
As well, in 2004 he became the sheriff of Lafourche Parish, later on becoming sargeant. All in all, it’s evident that despite changing Bruce’s hunting routine quite a lot, Ron perfectly fits into their team as long as it lasted.
What Happened To Nick?
All good “Swamp People” remember Nick, a young man who in the second season joined Bruce Mitchell’s team, and was taught the craft by him. Unfortunately, his run with the Alligator Man was short lived, not returning for the third season, and leaving the audience quite confused about his disappearance.
However, there’s a good reason for that, as he was arrested for hitting a female police officer at midnight of 23 September 2011. Reportedly, Nicholas Payne, who was only 26 years old at the time, had been causing a ruckus outside a private residence in Louisiana, promptly attracting the attention of police officers.
Although Nick and his alleged wife apologized to the police, and assured them that they were going inside the house, the police were called again later, and just as the officer was issuing a summons, Nick hit her in the chest and fled.
Nick was arrested in the morning for battery and resisting an officer, charges he had been arrested for in previous years. Nick was given a $10,000 fine for his most recent crime, but as TMZ reported, he had apparently already been left out of “Swamp People” before that last incident.
Once described as a ‘huge patriot’ by Ron Methvin, it’s unsurprising that Bruce Mitchell does his best to contribute to his country, through several charities, such as Quad Veterans, an organization focused on helping out homeless veterans.
The Mitchell family also supports the project Adventures Enabled, an online series which took severely wounded war veterans on physically enduring trips and challenges, all powered by Wounded Warrior Outdoors, an organization meant to provide therapeutic treatment to these former soldiers.
Other patriot charities Bruce contributes to are Support Our Troops and the Fort Polk Home Of Heroes, in addition to other health-related organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association, which focus hits close to home, given that the Mitchell family has lost several members to this illness.
What Happened To His Dog?
Although Bruce Mitchell is known for preferring to hunt all alone while cameras are off, it wasn’t always like that. For over a decade, he was accompanied on his ‘gator catching escapades by his loyal side-kick Tyler Boo, a lovely canine who loved eating zebra cakes, and was always ready to board Bruce’s boat on a single word of command.
Tyler’s story with the Mitchells started in 2001, when he was gifted to Bruce’s daughter Janice after being rescued from a shelter. It was Bruce who ended up taking care of the dog, surprisingly keeping him indoors for as long as he was a puppy, ending up with Ty learning to eat exactly the same food as Bruce.
Once Tyler was let outside the house, he became Bruce’s best partner-in-crime, and happily joined his adventures until April 2014, when he died of heart failure after three years of battling the disease. To commemorate Tyler, several messages and tributes were sent to the Mitchells, and even the History channel posted a video in Ty’s honor.
The story about his beloved dog and some others, are what make Bruce’s status as a “Swamp People” fan-favorite unsurprising, leaving no unanswered questions as for why he eventually was taken back by the show. Long may he serve again in the ‘gator-catching role.