Giles Island draws big names from around the country for hunts

Published 12:01 am Sunday, January 8, 2012

“Swamp People” star Troy Landry shows off the nine-point buck he killed at Giles Island Hunting Club. Landry is accompanied by hunting club manager Jimmy Riley. (Submitted photo)

NATCHEZ — Two stars of the TV show “Swamp People” climbed out of their boats, left the swamp and headed into the woods of one of the Miss-Lou’s local hunting camps a couple of weeks ago to try their luck at nabbing a big buck.

Troy Landry and his son Jacob paid a visit to Giles Island Hunting Club and both TV celebrities left with a nine-point trophy buck.

The Landrys were not alone as big-name visitors to the island, however. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant also made an appearance at Giles Island and also killed a nine-point buck.

“Gov. Phil Bryant killed the biggest buck of his life on the island (a couple weeks ago),” club manager Jimmy Riley said. “He said, ‘I’m going to hang this dude in the governor’s mansion in my office with other animals killed in Mississippi, and we’re going to promote hunting in Mississippi.’

Riley poses with Gov. Phil Bryant showing off the nine-point buck Bryant killed on Giles Island. (Submitted photo)

“I am pretty proud of that.”

A majority of the big names that visit the island to hunt are from hunting TV shows, Riley said, but occasionally Giles Island will host athletes like Jim Kelly, Bubby Brister and Jake Peavy, media entrepreneurs like the founder of Bowhunter Magazine M.R. James and once the camp even hosted swimsuit model Petra Nemcova for a Sports Illustrated swimsuit photoshoot.

“It’s always fun to have celebrities in the camp,” Riley said.

Riley said sometimes it is difficult to couple the excitement of the other guests with the need for the celebrities to have their personal space, however.

“We have to talk to them about how they want to handle autographs, we know they are used to it, but we ask them, ‘How do you want to do it? Do you want a big autograph signing or what?’”

Riley said Major League Pitcher Jake Peavy just took several baseballs into his room, signed them over the period of a couple of days and gave them to other guests.

“Troy Landry you can just hit him up anytime,” Riley said. “He’s just who you see on TV. He’s not having to act one bit. He’s the same man, a fun-loving guy. He told me, ‘I’m going to ride this Swamp People TV show as long as it will go.’”

Riley said Landry was willing to sign anything people brought to him, including boat paddles and hats.

Of the celebrity guests that hunt on Giles Island, Riley said Peavy has been one of the most interesting.

“Peavy is kind of a character,” Riley said. “He liked to have fun, and it wasn’t always necessarily in the most appropriate manner.”

Riley said Peavy enjoyed playing his guitar and felt comfortable wearing just his underwear to go grab his morning coffee.

“It was a good thing we didn’t have any women in the camp,” Riley said.

Riley said the staff does a good job of working through the excitement to ensure all the guests have a great stay.

“We are really so busy, and we know we have a job to do,” he said. “It’s exciting that we do a good enough job that they want to come here. It says a lot for the crew of Giles Island about the job we do.”

Riley said the TV exposure the camp gets through Mossy Oak programming has helped lure celebrity hunters toward the camp. He also said word-of-mouth publicity hasn’t hurt either.

“The hunting industry is kind of a small group compared to the rest of the population,” he said. “Especially with social networking, it’s hard to hide.”

Riley said the camp does not attempt to attract celebrities, it just happens on its own.

“It’s not a focus,” he said. “We’ll take anybody. Anybody can hunt Giles Island as long as they have cash or a credit card.”

Riley also said outside of autograph requests the celebrities are treated the same as all other paying guests.

“We pretty much nip that in the bud in the beginning,” he said. “We do everything fair and square. We draw for hunting areas, and it’s the luck of the draw no matter who you are.”

Riley said every hunter is treated like someone special when they come hunt at Giles Island.

“The atmosphere on Giles Island is just a good ole’ boy hunting camp,” he said. “It’s a weekend experience. We hunt hard, but everything is fun. We take the work out of it for the hunter. All they have to do is hunt, eat and sleep, and we do everything fair and square. We didn’t want this thing to be who has the most money kills the biggest buck.”