Season 12 of the hit American reality television series “Swamp People,’ premiered on 12 February 2021, and it introduced a new hunter by the name of Pickle. Being petite, she didn’t look like she could reel in an alligator, much less shoot one, but she could and did, and so of course viewers couldn’t get enough of her.

Early life and family

Pickle was born Cheyenne Nicole Wheat on 21 September 1995. Her dad, Eddie, called her by that name until it sounded like ‘shiny nickel’ as the years went by. The word “pickle” was added until it was the only one left, and it became her moniker.

She grew up loving the outdoors, and claims to have been hunting since she was three. Most people thought it was crazy for a little girl to go on fishing trips and hunting camps, but her dad took her anyway.

#picklewheat#swamppeople

Posted by Pickle Wheat from Swamp People on Sunday, September 19, 2021

She would also go frogging with him in a pirogue every summer, and it was one of her favorite things to do, saying ‘There’s something about being out on the water late at night that’s good for the soul.’

Pickle and her dad planted a mulberry tree, and she made mulberry wine almost every spring. It also became their bird-watching tree, as various types of tropical birds would come to eat these berries every year. Her favorite quote of all time has been “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

She recalled that when they were evacuating their home in August 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina, her parents made sure that she and her brother James, would enjoy their ‘road trip’ to Missouri and Arkansas, so that instead of wondering about the toys they left behind, they were focused on fly-fishing, making it seemed like it was one grand adventure they were having.

Pickle got a tattoo of the word “Free” on the pinkie side of her hand, and she said it was for her mom who always called Pickle her ‘little free spirit’ or ‘little tumbleweed.’ She’s grateful for everything her mom did for their family, and said that if there ever came a time when Missie said she’s taking a day for herself, she would likely laugh and ask her what she did to my mom.

Pickle said her grandmother’s a doll, and wanted to have her closet which looked like a boutique. Her grandfather whom she calls pop has an amazing talent, and could make small steam engines, turkey calls, knives, and longbows. She believes that there’s nothing he couldn’t build from scratch as a machinist, saying, ‘He is the heart and soul of what we do. He’s the reason we “follow the grain.”’

They have a family-run business, Wheat’s Custom Calls, making turkey and duck calls.

About the show

“Swamp People” features the lives of alligator hunters in south-central Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin, the largest swamp and wetland in the US. It premiered on 22 August 2010 on History Channel with over three million people tuning in, and viewers were instantly ‘hooked’!

Hunting season officially opens every last Wednesday of August on the east zone, and every first Wednesday in September on the west zone, and it would last for 60 days. Only those with valid hunting licenses were allowed to harvest ‘gators on privately owned lands or public lakes/lands they were granted access to. They could only hunt for as many as the tags they were issued with, and which they must attach to the tail of each gator they killed. It was important for every hunter to tag out before hunting season closes, as an unused or lost one would mean lost profit, and fewer tags issued the following season.

Swamp People

The hunters commonly used baited hooks and lines in fishing gators. A chicken leg quarter aged for two to three days would be perfect bait, suspended a few inches or centimeters above the surface of the water, with the line attached to a pole or tree branch. Once a gator was caught, one would untangle the line and reel it in to help the shooter have a clear shot of the gator’s most vulnerable spot behind the skull. It was difficult and dangerous, as the game of tug-and-war would begin in which the gator would put up a good fight, twisting and turning to escape, and its powerful jaws would bite anything within reach. One needs to be careful and strong enough to control the gator to keep it from climbing into the boat, going underwater, or popping the line. Only after a gator’s dead should it be hauled into the boat. Only those with the experience and skills as well as a healthy amount of caution would prevail in the battle against these wild creatures.

Almost all parts of the alligator could be sold, with the meat for food and the skin bought by tanneries around the world, as it was used to manufacture luxury items. A huge gator was worth more than a small one so the hunters were hoping to capture the big ones, but unless they were hunting in open water, they should dispatch the gator caught by their baited hook and line no matter the size.

Life as a gator hunter

Pickle has been following in the footsteps of her great-grandfather, who was well-known for alligator hunting in St. Bernard Parish. Back in the day, he used a ‘sound pole’ similar to a PVC pipe and placed it in a gator hole. He would then put the top of the pole under his chin and make sounds and it would echo down to the bottom and attract the ‘gator, which when it reached the surface of the water, he would bop them on the head.

Pickle’s turn to hunt gators came as she became part of “Swamp People.” She’d been around alligators her whole life, so she and her brother had been ‘messing’ with gators since they were young. She alluded to hunting them in the past, but not by running lines. Season 12 of the series opened with the hunters worried about the population explosion of gators, meaning that the ‘gators became more aggressive as they were running out of food. It wouldn’t take long for these predators to become a nuisance in the neighborhood, to ease their hunger. Culling them was necessary for the safety of all.

The “King of the Swamp,” Troy Landry, had 500 tags to fill and had three teams to fill them, but was short of a deckhand as the previous one had another commitment.

Pickle, the niece of a friend he has known for more than 35 years, would team up with him. Although there were people who hunted solo, it was better and safer to have someone on board who could help.

When it came to Pickle, Troy said, ‘She doesn’t look much like an alligator hunter. She looked like she should be in third or fourth grade at school.’ Pickle knew she had something to prove because of her size. She’s in her mid-20s, but looked young for her age, however, one shouldn’t underestimate her, as she’s strong and tough.

On her first day at work, she said she had a lot of respect and appreciation for what Troy did for a living, and that she’s willing to do anything he needed her to do. Troy enjoyed hunting with Pickle, as he believed that she brought him good luck, and said, ‘I got a lot of respect for the woman.

Posted by Pickle Wheat from Swamp People on Wednesday, September 22, 2021

She’s doing a very good job.’ Even if he gave her nicknames such as “Cinderella,” “Baby Girl,” and “Shorty,” he was full of praises for her from not being scared in grabbing the lines to getting a ‘gator on her first shot. When he teased her about being pretty, she said his boys were ugly just like him and he would just laugh. Troy appreciated that Pickle said what she felt, and he did the same thing so they got along well. She started calling him Papa Troy.

First catch, first shot

Their first catch of the season was an 11-foot ‘gator – over three metres – and Pickle had to reel it in while Troy shot it. As they were running the line in the canals of Lake Verret, she spotted another 11-foot gator in the open water and took a shot with her 7mm-08 Remington rifle, and Troy used a treble hook to get it. Although Troy made fun of her rifle’s pink case, he was very impressed with her shooting, and no longer teased her about it.

Catching the Freight Train

Pickle and Troy found that one of their lines was gone as a gator broke the branch and popped/chewed the line to escape; Troy said that only something big and powerful could do that, and started calling it “Freight Train.” They set up another baited hook and tied the line to a bigger branch, but the ‘gator broke that as well. They found the branch on the water moving nearby with the line still attached so they had to bring it to much shallow water to fight and shoot it. They finally caught Freight Train, which turned out to be a 650-pound, 12-foot monster, almost 300kgs and four meters long.

Making the boat fly

When their access to Troy’s secret spot was blocked by weeds as the water level had gone down, they had to ‘jump’ or plow through the beaver dam to get to the lines that they had set the day before. Pickle was nervous about what Troy was about to do as it was dangerous – fortunately, they made it to the other side unscathed.

Swamp People

They caught a lot, which made their trip back much more difficult as the boat would be too heavy. Pickle suggested that they unload the small gators on the beaver dam so they could make it to the other side, then load them back up.

Catching gator on land in the Boneyard

They run the line in a place known as the Boneyard in ,which there were lots of tree stumps, Cyprus knees, and knocked-down trees. Navigation in the area might be difficult but Troy said there was a good chance they would find bigger gators. In one of their lines, the gator didn’t stay in the water but went to land. If at all possible, hunting gators on land should be avoided as it could launch at over 50 km/hour. Pickle had to check where the gator went so she went off the boat and Troy followed to shoot the gator.

Switching roles

Halfway through the season, they started acting like family. Pickle suggested she be the one driving, and Troy would be on the bow of the boat putting baits. Troy put on a life jacket, and she took a little offense at that and thought she’d give him a crazy ride.

However, she realized as captain of the boat for the day that she’s responsible for the safety of Troy, who’s getting on in age and having a bit of trouble with his back; they had a better appreciation for what each one did in the boat after that. However, Troy said that he would never let anyone drive his boat again. After a long day, the two along with his grandson went to get ice cream.

Hunting for a nuisance alligator

Troy has been a nuisance hunter for many years, and he took Pickle along when he was called in to hunt a ‘gator that grabbed his friend’s 400kgs/800 to 900-pound horse by the nose and killed it. If the gator wasn’t caught, it would come back and eat the rest of the horses, and they couldn’t let that happen. The two went to the exact spot the horse was killed and then set up bait and a few more along the banks of the horse farm in Belle River. They caught a few but not big enough to be the culprit. Pickle had to get creative and put shavings from the horse’s hooves in the bait to make it more appetizing to the horse-eating gator.

She figured that once the gator had a taste of the horse, it would be looking for more. Sure enough, when they came back, they’d finally caught a 13-foot, 700-pound ‘gator, or four meters, over 300kgs.

Hunting with Troy’s team

They went to Cow Island Lake, a gator-infested place in the bayou described as Jurassic Park, with Pickle, Troy, and his son, Chase, in one airboat and his other son, Jacob, and a friend in another. They only had 15 tags to fill between two teams and Troy was hoping to only catch over 10-foot gators, over three meters They didn’t put out bait but would catch gators in open water. While Troy drove the boat, Pickle and Chase took turns as a shooter, even though the latter has more experience. On hunting with Pickle, Chase said, ‘She’s feisty and she’s a firecracker but she’s fun. She’s definitely a good sport about it. I enjoyed it.’ Pickle believed she and Chase were a good team, and started calling themselves the A-Team.

They filled their tags that day, and celebrated their success in Troy’s home.

Gator-hunting season over

They tagged out, which meant a successful season. Being on the boat with Troy had been a dream come true for Pickle as she learned so much from him. ‘I cannot express enough how overwhelming it is…to have the opportunity to absorb the knowledge that this man has.’ She knew she’s a pain, being hard-headed and all, but he had been very patient with her. Although they butt heads a lot, they got along and loved each other. He said that she acted like one of his kids. She jokingly said that she would put him in an old folks’ home and he threatened to send her back to kindergarten.

During the off-season, Pickle was back home spending time with family and going on adventures with them, such as glamping with her mom and hunting with her brother, based on her posts on her Facebook page.

She has become so popular that her Pickle Wheat merchandise such as her signature hat and shirt that people saw her wearing in the show was selling so well, that they were shipping not just around the US, but also to Australia, Canada and Europe.

She’s looking forward to hunting with Troy, and has said she’ll be in Pierre Part early to enjoy the food at Landry’s restaurant before the hunting season opens.

Personal life

Pickle’s reportedly dating Chase Landry, said to be confirmed via her Facebook page as her status read ‘in a relationship with Chase Landry’ back in October 2020. Based on the photos she posted, Chase joined one of their family hunting trips. It wasn’t clear when they started dating or if they are still together, but this seems unlikely as all posts with Chase have been removed. He was previously married to Chelsea Kinsey and has a daughter named Riley Blake with her.

Write A Comment

Pin It