Local resident creates booming swamp tour business

Lifelong St. Charles Parish resident Randy Young, 49, became a business owner with his swamp tour company Ragin’ Cajun Airboat Tours in 2020, after managing a similar Jefferson Parish-based swamp tour company for seven years.

In spite of the 2020 COVID shutdown that affected his business for several months, after just three years, his young company has grown quickly to include two St. Charles Parish locations. He operates from his main hub on Highway 90, and now also from his recently acquired second location on Highway 3127. At the heart of his business are a fleet of 15 airboats operated by 18 tour guides, including himself.

Each of his two locations offers a different experience to guests. His Highway 90 location features standard airboats seating up to 10 people along with a few larger airboats seating up to 17 guests. The Highway 3127 location includes slightly smaller passenger boats, but with a more traditional swamp tour environment.

“Our location on [Highway] 3127 is cypress and gum swamp, so you’re going to get a different experience there – that’s what I would call a swamp tour,” Young said. “Highway 90 is more of an airboat tour and is a little bit more adventurous.”

Young’s Highway 90 location features around 2,000 acres of private property, consisting mostly of marshland with live oak and willow trees but few cypress trees.

“It’s completely shut off and there’s no public access, which makes it really unique,” Young said. “It allows us to kind of cultivate everything that’s here to our liking; It’s our own little zoo.”

Safety, Young said, is a major principle he runs his company on, something he stresses every Friday in weekly safety meetings with his team of guides, along with regular water safety drills. He focuses on guests having a fun, educational but safe experience, rather than a speedboat thrill ride.

“There is a huge misconception that airboats are speed boats,” Young explained. “Most people from other parts of the country call them fan boats, but they’re not built to go fast.”

Young said guests on his tours can expect to see all sorts of wildlife, including snakes, turtles, migratory birds depending on the time of year, deer, pigs, possums, armadillos, rabbits, raccoons, and most importantly – alligators.

“Anytime a guest sees a 10- or 11-foot alligator, they light up…make no mistake, that is the star of the show,” Young said of his tours. “People look forward to seeing them, but there’s also [when] we pull up to a little family of raccoons; those generally draw some good cheers as well.”

After acquiring his Highway 3127 location in April of this year, Young is currently hard at work expanding his business. He plans to soon offer traditional covered boat tours with narration at his new location. He recently placed an order for a few covered boats, and now awaits delivery.

“I’m praying that will be a reality…hopefully by next summer, with the way everything is going right now to get boats built,” Young said, with current vessel delivery times estimated to be around 12 to 18 months.

Young said he may one day also develop a live animal exhibit, hoping to create more of a natural, free-ranging environment using fencing rather than cages.

For St. Charles Parish residents that have not previously been on an airboat or ever taken a swamp tour, he offered an open invitation.

“I would say for anybody that reads this, take it from me – be a tourist in your hometown,” Young suggested. “And that doesn’t mean you have to go to the city of New Orleans or Harrah’s Casinos – there are things right here in your own backyard that you have taken for granted your whole life…get your kids out for an hour and a half on the weekend or weekday when they’re bored to death during the summer – you’d probably be amazed.”

For more details on Young’s swamp tour operation in St. Charles Parish, go to www.ragincajunairboattours.com  or contact Ragin’ Cajun Airboat Tours via Facebook.


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