Pickle Wheat easily gained the interest of loyal viewers of the long-running reality TV show “Swamp People,” when she was introduced in its 12th season aired in 2021. Being short and young-looking, many could hardly believe how adept she was in hunting apex predators such as alligators. She had a good rapport with her captain, “King of the Swamp” Troy Landry, and they made quite a team. Being new on the History Channel series, people have been clamoring for more of her hunting exploits, and for information on what’s keeping her busy these days.

Get to know Pickle Wheat

Cheyenne Nicole Wheat was born on 21 September 1995, and with her name sounding like “shiny nickel,” it evolved over the years into Pickle, which stuck. She and her brother James grew up in Poydras, Louisiana; her love for the outdoors was brought on by having a family into fishing, hunting and frogging. She was only three when her father, Eddie, started taking her along with him to his favorite haunts, and introduced her to the joy of camping and other outdoor adventures. She’s in awe of her mom, Missie, with her selfless ways of doing everything she could for their family. Missie’s language of love was food, and she was always cooking for them, even making sure she packed enough food for their hunting trips. As a tribute to her, Pickle had the word “Free” tattooed on the side of her pinkie, as her mom always called her ‘my little tumbleweed’ or ‘my little free spirit.’

Pickle came from a long line of pirogue builders, decoy carvers, duck call makers, and trappers. In the early ‘70s, her grandfather used pieces of slate he found at a deserted fort in Shell Beach in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, to make turkey calls. The family has made their own hunting products since then, and the idea of selling them only came when someone bought a duck call at their woodshop. They participated in a local show held at the Los Isleños Museum, and the response they received inspired them to establish their company, Wheat’s Game Calls. It specializes in custom-made devices that mimic animal noises, or sounds to attract animals to the hunters, such as deer grunt, duck, crow and pintail calls.

Her great-grandfather was a legend in St. Bernard Parish, as one of their original alligator hunters. He had an ingenious way of luring alligators in that he would use a pole similar to a PVC pipe, putting one end in the water with the other end positioned under the chin, and would then make a sound that would attract ‘gators to him. Once the ‘gators were within reach on the surface of the water, he would hit them on the head.

Her grandfather, whom she fondly called “pop,” had exceptional talent as a craftsman and machinist, and Pickle was proud to say that his work such as on knives and longbows was museum-worthy. She said, ‘He is the heart and soul of what we do. He’s the reason we “follow the grain.”

About the show

History Channel’s “Swamp People” premiered on 22 August 2010, with over three million people tuning in. The reality TV show was about the ‘gator hunting season in the largest swamp and wetland in the US – the Atchafalaya Basin in South Central Louisiana. It featured well-known alligator hunters including Troy Landry, Bruce Mitchell and Willie Edwards, with Pickle Wheat joining the King of the Swamp on his boat during the 12th season, which started airing on 4 February 2021.

Hunting alligators

According to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, ‘gator hunting would officially commence in the east zone every last Wednesday in August, and in the west zone every first Wednesday in September, with licensed hunters given 60 days to fill the tags they’re issued with. The most common form of harvesting ‘gators involved the use of baited hooks and lines in which an aged chicken leg quarter would be hanging several inches above the water, with the line tied to a tree branch or a pole. When a ‘gator takes the bait, it isn’t able to dislodge the hook inside its mouth.

The line is used to reel it in, and position the ‘gator in such a way that the one holding the rifle would have a clear shot at the most vulnerable spot behind its skull. One had to be a marksman to not hit the skull plate, as it’s very dense and bullet fragments may ricochet. Although the alligator is a large target, it can move very fast, maximum speed of 56kph (35mph) on land, although it’s known to tire quickly, and 32kph (20mph) in the water. This humane way of killing was not easy, as the ‘gator would put up a fight, thrashing around, and one had to be careful not to get caught between its powerful jaws, not take too long as the line could snap during the struggle, and not let the live gator get into the boat.

Alligator parts can be sold for profit, with the skin as the most valuable. Tanneries bought gator skins as it would make for a fine and durable leather that was sought-after, in making luxury items including bags, shoes, and belts. The bigger the ‘gator skin, the more expensive it is, as there would be a wider material to work with.

Also, people hunted alligators to cull their population. When its numbers became overwhelming, it would pose a danger to society, as it would start venturing into neighborhoods in search of food, and attacks on pets and people would soon follow.

Pickle, the ‘gator hunter

As Pickle followed in his great-grandfather’s footsteps, she teamed up with Troy Landry in hunting alligators in “Swamp People.” She grew up around alligators, not having qualms at holding baby gators by their mouth and body or tail, but had since developed a healthy respect for them. Pickle knew how to hunt one, but running lines was new to her.

Season 12 opened with the hunters worried about the overpopulation of alligators in the area. Troy had partnered with his sons, Jacob and Chase, and other hunters in past seasons, but his partnership with Pickle seemed the most enjoyable for the both of them. She said that it was a rewarding experience despite the danger involved. They got along well, and bantered a lot. He gave her nicknames such as “Peewee” and “Baby Girl,” and had fun treating her like one of his children; well, she is the niece of someone with whom Troy enjoyed over 35 years of friendship.

He organized three teams to fill his 500 tags that year, and Pickle served as his deckhand. ‘She doesn’t look much like an alligator hunter. She looked like she should be in third or fourth grade at school,’ he said, but never regretted having her on his team, as she had proven her worth. Despite being short and young-looking, she was actually in her mid-20s at that time, and quite strong. She gets the job done – she could shoot, handle the line with a feisty ‘gator on the other end, and did her share in pulling a dead gator into the boat.

Her first time hunting with the “King of the Swamp”

In Pierre Part, Louisiana, their first catch was an 11-foot alligator. Troy admired her guts in having a deadly tug of war with a wildly trashing gator that was heavier and bigger than her, as it resisted her efforts in reeling it in for Troy to deliver the killing shot; in one wrong move, she could fall out of the boat. She had the chance to use her 7mm-08 Remington Rifle on a ‘gator they spotted in the open water. If she missed, the gator would go underwater, and wouldn’t surface for some time. Fortunately, Pickle was a great shot, and Troy used a Treble hook to haul in the dead ‘gator.

Hunting a nuisance ‘gator

Troy was often called to hunt for nuisance alligators, so when a ‘gator killed an 800-pound horse, he brought Pickle along to catch the ‘gator responsible as they knew it would return, now having a taste for horse meat. They were successful in ridding the ranch of this problem, with Pickle’s idea of adding shavings of the horse’s hooves to the chicken bait.

A battle against Mother Nature as they hunted gators

In season 13, Hurricane Ida packing winds at about 241kph (150mph), was headed to the swamps, and Pickle along with the rest of the hunters was in a rush to harvest as many gators as they could, at least 30 to 40 of them before the storm broke. It might seem a lot, but it was just a small fraction of what his team had to catch; Troy’s team had 500 to 600 tags to fill that year. They were worried that the hunting season would be cut short due to the storm. Their first catch was an 11-foot 400-pound gator, which was a great start, and they continued to fill their boat. Even as the hurricane warning went into effect and the storm was expected to make a landfall in 24 hours, they still ran their lines.

Helping fellow hunters

It was about a week after the storm when they helped out Ronnie and Ashley, who were behind schedule. Hunters were given tags based on the number they caught the previous year, and if they failed to fill all of them, there was a good chance that one would be given less the following year. Pickle and Troy caught several gators, but still had more of Ronnie’s tags to fill. However, she was starting to worry about the bad weather and told her partner, ‘Gotta be honest with ya, ain’t no alligator worth this.’ Troy admitted that he also didn’t like being out when there was a lightning storm, particularly when they were using a 20 feet long aluminum pole, but he said they were too far out to go back, and would just have to run the lines until they were out of the area. With their help, Ronnie and Ashley were back on track – later that evening, Ronnie treated them to crabs and shrimps.

Pickle became captain for a day

She complained about Troy making her wait while he drank his coffee, despite asking her to come early in the morning. He said that he was always worn out, as he was the one doing everything on the boat. ‘If you wanna be captain, I’m gonna make you drive the boat,’ he suddenly told her, and she was beyond excited for a chance to prove herself. It wasn’t the first time they switched roles as captain and deckhand, as they’d also done that in season 12. Nothing’s changed, as Troy said that she was the worst boat driver he had ever seen in his life; she was doing the opposite of what he was telling her to do, particularly in getting the boat in a better position when approaching the lines. He could see that she didn’t like driving the boat, and it was only pride that kept her from saying so. Pickle realized how much work Troy was doing as a captain, and before they finished running the lines, she admitted to being terrible at it, and went back to being a deckhand; it was a good thing that they still caught several gators that day.

What has Pickle been up to these days?

Every hunting season, Pickle would head to Pierre Part to film for “Swamp People,” but as soon as it was over, she returned home. She liked to travel by herself and experience new things, but she also never missed an opportunity to hunt game with family and friends.

Connecting with fans of the show

As she became famous, she made it a point to post vlogs giving updates on how she was doing, as well as host live sessions for some Q&A with fans, as she was eager to meet new people. She was grateful for all the love and support she’s been receiving, and said that being on the TV series was life-changing. Her popularity was good for business as well, and it was making her very busy, selling Pickle Wheat merchandise such as her signature shirts and hats that she wore on the show. She’s actually having a bit of a hard time keeping up with demand, not just locally but also internationally.

Moving into a new home

In her February 2022 Instagram post, she shared that she’d moved into a new place recently, and was busy setting up her new home, as well as the chicken coop in her yard. As she was chasing a chicken around, unfortunately she stepped on a long nail. She didn’t yet have the courage to show how bad her foot was, and just said that it was twice its original size, and that she was limping. Pickle was comfortable walking barefoot even outside her home, as she communed with nature or foraged mushrooms in the woods.

Gushing over Troy Landry

Her social media posts left no room for doubt on how she felt about Troy Landry. Pickle was grateful to have learned so much from him, and the two developed a close relationship that went beyond captain-deckhand. She said, ‘To say we are close friends is an understatement…when you meet certain people in the world, you just know they’re your forever people. He’s one of those for me.’

Dating Chase Landry

Rumor has it that Pickle is dating or has dated Troy’s son, Chase, who appeared as a ‘gator hunter like his father in “Swamp People” since season three. In an episode aired in 2021, Pickle and Chase worked together, taking turns as a shooter, as they went to the alligator-infested part of Cow Island Lake. Chase shared his experience in hunting with Pickle, saying, ‘She’s feisty and she’s a firecracker, but she’s fun. She’s definitely a good sport about it. I enjoyed it.’ They had great chemistry, and did well in filling their tags with Troy content just driving the airboat and leaving everything to them.

Back in 2020, her relationship status on Facebook read, ‘In a Relationship with Chase Landry,’ and there were photos of her with him on one of her hunting expeditions. However, no more photos of them together were posted after that, and some wondered if they’d parted ways. Fans who had followed the Landrys since the start believed that the two were still together, but wanted to keep things private, particularly Chase, as he’s not too keen on publicly sharing his personal life. In fact, it was only through his father’s social media posts that fans learned about the birth of his first child, Riley Blake, in March 2017. The mother was allegedly Chelsea Kinsey, who was his girlfriend of many years. According to some reports, the two went their separate ways after their daughter was born.

Based on her social media posts, Pickle was having the time of her life, as she was living her dream, doing what she enjoyed the most – traveling, hunting, and being with family. As the season finale aired, her fans need not worry that this was going to be her last, as she assured everyone during one of her Instagram Live sessions that they have another season coming.

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