A local hunter is currently filming episodes for a reality TV series set in St. Charles Parish.
Wayne "Kip" Benoit, 50, is the subject of the new series, however, the specifics of the production are being kept under wraps until it gets closer to its scheduled run early next year.
"All I can say at this point is that itís a series on a major network. Itís slated to air in January," Benoit said. "It will be on things we do around here and it will be outdoorsy. Itíll be in the area, whether it will be back of Lake Salvador crabbing or catfishing in Lac Des Allemands, weíll be around here."
The Boutte resident already recorded footage in the area a few weeks ago and plans are in action that will bring the production crew out at least two more times over the next few months.
"Itís a good production. They are pretty meticulous. Youíve got three cameramen and an audio guy," he said.
This will not be Benoitís first time on the little screen. In January 2012 Benoit hosted an episode of Brotherhood Outdoors on the Sportsman Channel.
"I hosted a gator hunt. The host of the show was my guest I guess you could say," he said. "We did good. We caught an 11 footer, a 10 footer and some other nice big alligators."
Benoit is a Taft native who can trace his roots back in the parish over several generations.
"My great-great grandmother and great-great grandfather where the first couple married in the Holy Rosary Church parish whenever that was way back then," he said.
Hunting has been a way of life for Benoitís family since he can remember growing up their cattle farm.
"You just pretty much all year long would eat rabbit or something like that," he said. "You lived off the land even though every one was a welder or this or that you were catching a turtle or gators or frogs or fish or something."
It was not long before Benoit followed in the footsteps of his ancestors and began hunting as well.
"As far back as I remember we were always after something. Whether it was nutria, coon, or whatever. As soon as I could make my way back in the woods a little Iíd catch them," he said.
He runs down the list of game available to hunt locally including dove, quail, duck, deer, alligators, coyotes, nutria and wild boars.
Years later the evidence of a life lived in the outdoors is evident throughout Benoitís home. His airboat is parked in an offshoot of Grand Bayou in his backyard along with numerous other boats and all terrain vehicles gathered on the property. The centerpiece of his living room coffee table is a meticulously carved wooden gator statue that rests on a coyote skin. Guns are propped up in the corners of the house or on racks hanging from the walls and stuffed trophies are on display throughout including multiple deer heads, alligator heads and even a bobcat.
But one deer head in particular sticks out from the rest. The head of a monster buck is mounted on his living room wall.
"This one is from Saskatchewan," Benoit said. "The taxidermist said it has a 27 inch neck, that it was the biggest body heís ever ordered."
Benoit took the trip as part of a trade for hosting a hunt in St. Charles Parish.
"It was a one time trip. I took a bunch of guys gator hunting and we ended up with a trade hunt type deal. It was enjoyable. Everyone should make a hunt somewhere if they can. Itís worth doing. Itís big land up there," he said.
Although Benoit has a soft spot for deer hunting it is his alligator hunting that sets him apart from most. He first learned how to hunt alligators in his late teens before getting his first gator tags at age 20. Now, 30 years later, he has greatly increased the number of tags he holds.
"I started off and I had four tags then it ended up getting to eight tags then 12 tags and 20 something and now I am up to 48. I get them every year and I fill them all," he said.
In August 2005 Benoit had another deal with a production crew who was to come out and film his alligator hunt that year, however, Hurricane Katrina stopped that from happening.
"It completely wiped that out with everything in shambles," he said.
Instead of hunting gators in his airboat Benoit found himself helping with evacuation efforts immediately following the hurricane.
"I actually took my airboat and went to the Superdome and took patients out," he said. "They were all ICU patients from University Hospital and Charity Hospital. We loaded them up in airboats and took them to an ambulance."
This year he is again scheduled to film during hurricane season and this time he is hoping it will go through so he can show the world the passion for hunting that exists in St. Charles Parish.
"I huntÖducks deer. Itís all we do! You just live for the winter," Benoit said.
He said even if the show becomes a runaway success it is unlikely he would ever leave the area.
"I did sign for a series. How successful it will be, you never know. I think it will be positive. I hope it will be," Benoit said. "This is home, in the lakes and the river thatís all Iíve ever done."
|Wayne ďKipĒ Benoit sits in his airboat that is parked in the bayou behind his home in Boutte.|